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English is not my mother tongue. I've read an article with these sentences. I have no idea if the phrase "perfect storm" is supposed to be positive or negative.

“Social gaming is sitting on perfect storm,” add Relan, “And the storm revolves around three basic areas-mobile, internaional[sic] and Facebook.” TechCruch

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3 Answers

The key element of the (much overused and irritating, IMO) metaphor here is that of a synergy of forces leading to a release of energy much greater than any of its individual contributors would ever generate. It may be that the speaker is ignoring the "storm" part, i.e. that the energy release is destructive, but possibly not; it's not uncommon to notice that transformative new media are broadly destructive to the old media they replace.

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A "perfect storm" is not normally good news for anybody but the storm itself, but it appears that the speaker being quoted is using it in a positive sense. Social gaming, in this metaphor, would be the storm rather than something that would be subject to the storm's force. It was probably not the best way to phrase it, but an off-the-cuff statement given during an interview is not normally subject to a lot of editing and revision.

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This particular usage originated with Sebastian Junger in his non-fiction book The Perfect Storm, published 1997, about an actual event now known as the 1991 Perfect Storm - only it wasn't called that at the time, since the expression hadn't yet been coined.

Wikipedia's definition is as good as any...

A "perfect storm" describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances aggravate a situation drastically.

OP's cited usage is at least quirky, if not misguided. In all normal contexts, anything described as a "perfect storm" is likely to have catastrophically bad consequences. One commonly hears it today in hypothetical scenarios beloved of TV "documentaries", where the impact of some potentially foreseeable disaster can be made far greater by imagining that several unlikely circumstances might all arise at the same time.

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