Google’s social ambitions

October 9, 2007

So Google owns a social network called Orkut. I’ll forgive you if you didn’t know that as it’s not the best known of the social media darlings of the moment, that accolade sits with the Facbook, MySpace and Bebo’s of this world.

However, Orkut is actually doing really well, organically growing in markets around the world where even Facebook doesn’t really get a look in. Orkut is doing really well in both Latin America and the Asia-Pacific regions. In Latin America they command double the traffic of Facebook and MySpace combined with approx 12 million monthly visitors. In Asia-Pacific they command 11 million visitors per month and have recently taken the lead as the most popular social network. In the US however they receive just 600,000 visitors per month, although that is climbing.

Business Week has a good article on Google’s social ambitions which muses that they will be releasing a new set of API’s for Orkut (around November 5th) and some of their other services, allowing developers to build on these and turning Orkut into a platform (similar to Facebook). Google may take a slightly different tack to Facebook though and open up much more transparently, allowing developers to create much more value from applications than purely poking or throwing things at Facebook pals. Orkut may see apps such as one that allows users to see who is online of their friends on Facebook and vice versa. There’s also talks of Orkut and Google Maps mashups, GMail and Calendar apps etc. Sounds much more useful than Facebook already!

Of course the article mentions Socialstream too, which I blogged about in August. That’s the biggy! Get this kind of cross platform social network integration working and you’re onto a winner. Make your social network the hub for it and you will see immense growth (in my opinion).

I wouldn’t write Google off quite yet. Orkut has a lot of potential and Google have the tools and the muscle to make a big dent in the other social networks traffic graphs!

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