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Facebook Will Dominate Orkut In Social Networking In India – Was There Ever Doubt?

It’s been well known across the web, that no matter how popular Facebook is, there are two countries where Orkut still dominates – India and Brazil. Around a year back, WATBlog had posted an article on how Facebook was coming close to overtaking Orkut. Over the last one year, the migration from Orkut to Facebook has been steady.

If Alexa’s stats are anything to go by, the time spent on Orkut has steadily been decreasing – down by 10% in the last three months.

There are a few reasons I believe Facebook will trounce Orkut.

  1. The popularity of a social networking site is not just based on how many people it has, but how frequently they engage with others on it. Over the last 2 months, my Facebook feed had around 300 annoying updates every day. Compared to today, when I finally checked my Orkut account (after over 3-4 months) and there were 2 updates.
  2. Talk about Social Networking online and it’s Facebook. By cleverly eliminating Orkut from the global scenario and restricting it to a few countries, Facebook clearly dominates. In India, we may not blindly follow the West when it comes to tech, but we definitely take strong hints. If the past is anything to go by, what is trending in the West eventually becomes popular in India too (number of Twitter users in India – anybody?)
  3. Development – Where’s the development on Orkut. A look at the Facebook blog and Facebook seems to be tweaking something every month. A new notes feature, the new Facebook Questions (not launched for everybody), new privacy features (mild fiasco that), Geolocation. The point is, Facebook seems to be working on their product, while Google seems to be attempting to create a dent in the social networking sphere with a variety of tools – Buzz, Wave, Orkut. I think Buzz is pretty good, despite all the lashing it’s got. With Orkut and Wave, the less said the better.
  4. Google Me – a new supposed competitor to Facebook – which is a good indication of the fact that Google no longer hopes for the second coming of Orkut.
  5. Facebook recently offered free access via mobile on a few providers in India. Again, from personal observation, the percentage of “Posted from Facebook Mobile” seems to be increasing. There have been advertisements from network providers like Aircel on Airtel on TV and on the radio touting the same.

A comscore study in April showed that Orkut was still leading.


A few more stats :

  • India has the second largest user base for Orkut with 20 million
  • Facebook attracted 18 mn unique visitors in India in May
  • Orkut had 19.7 mn unique users in May
  • Facebook grew 177 per cent last year
  • Orkut grew 35 per cent last year

However, all of the above is moot if there’s no user engagement and retention. That’s the reason the new Google tie-up with Zynga will focus on social gaming. Farmville which became famous on Facebook is now moving out to other mediums. But people spend hours on Facebook playing Farmville and other social games.

Take a look at any new brand promotion on TV or the radio. Check out any new movie and how they promote it online – chances are there’s a Facebook page, quizzes, and some even venture out into social gaming.

My news feed on Facebook is liked to my Twitter Feed (which in turn is linked to my Google Reader shared items). I end up getting a lot of content through my Facebook feed. Reports (from February) show that Facebook drives 44% of social sharing. The now ubiquitous Facebook Like button is a simple click away. Content is also essential from a financial perspective. Good content on a site leads to more retention –> more benefits for advertising.

Any one seen a “Share on Orkut” button?

Though a recent news article in the Business Standard reports how Orkut will continue to innovate in India, and introduce a mobile platform for Orkut, I doubt it will make an impact.

The above may seem a hot-potch mashup of opinion, and I apologize for being unably to summarize my views more succintly. Here’s a small summary:

Why Facebook will Dominate Orkut in India eventually:

  1. Content
  2. More user Activity
  3. Lack of Innovation on Orkut’s part
  4. Mobile – early mover advantage + tie ups
  5. Google’s new product implies less focus on Orkut
  6. India is not China, a close knit social network will not work here.
  7. Facebook’s new features (Questions, Locations, Facebook Credits) will generate new interest leading to more buzz about the product.

Feel free to disagree.


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