The current number of sims is 27,735 according to the Second Life Grid Survey. That's more than the number there were at the start of the year according to an article by Daniel Voyager, 27,659. But there is one small detail with the statistics: the number of private sims.
As most residents know, some sims are outright owned by Linden Lab while the majority are run by private residents. At the start of the year, January 1, 2023, there were 18,370 private sims and 9289 Linden-owned sims. By July 2, the number of private sims had dipped to 18,330 and the number of Linden owned once had rose to 9360. As of the last report in November 19, the number of Linden run sims had once again risen, to 9542. But once again, the amount of private sims dropped slightly, to 18,193.
So there are 177 fewer private sims and 253 more Linden-run sims than at the beginning of the year. This trend isn't necessarily a bad thing for Linden Lab. While private sims do bring in a lot of money, $210 USD a month, the Linden Home sims on Bellisseria can hold plenty of Linden Homes, and plenty of Premium residents, who pay $12 each a month. And then there's the money they spend, of which the easiest way to get is to buy Linden dollars. On the other hand, private sims can be used to create great and interesting builds, which can attract curious people to Second Life by word of mouth.
So will these trends continue? Time will tell.
Sources: Daniel Voyager's Blog, Second Life Grid Survey