Philip Rosedale originator of Second Life is onto creating new technologies for simulations of reality.
Philip Rosedale left Second Life to to be able to work on new exciting things. Second Life is based on closed concept of virtual world (walled garden) hosted on private servers. From what I've seen so far and read about goals with High Fidelity I got a feeling like they are thinking beyond web 2.0 as many people reference the improved internet or internet of things (all devices connected and interactive). Their goals are to develop technology for WEB 3D or something that enables internet technology like evolution of emersed of virtual world.
I would give Second Life from 5 - 15 years more before other improved virtual world technology is developed. There is an opportunity for Second Life to extend its life if its updated and well taken care for. When its ready to retire its content and communities will have an opportunity for a more or less smooth transition to new different-purpose virtual world platform.
Can concepts, solutions and content from Second Life be exported to new virtual platrofm? We will see...
It looks like HF wants to break out of limits of privately hosted virtual world and develop technology that would enable decentralized virtualization. It reminds me of how internet works. People can join the internet and participate with their websites through web server (most widely used is APACHE web server software based on free source endaviours). Nobody owns the internet but there are some pretty powerfull and strong corporations that profit from it tremendeusly - they own the INTERNET BACKBONES. High Fidelity could be creator and facilitator of such backbones.
Philip Rosedale's approach to team bulding and work sharing reminds of free source communities. If that stayed with Second Life then it wouldn't have the problems it has.
Keeping it as much as possible open is a very successful concept for accumulation of talented developers who are inspired and motivated to create the history.