Is Orkut.com Really Dead As It Is Made Out To Be?

It has always been a popular topic to gossip about in this part of the world – Is Orkut.com, the much famed social network from Google which, at one point in time was synonymous with social networking in countries like India, really dead? A recent post from TechCrunch shows some stark realities of this much loved social network – Facebook.com, the new David in the story is really on his way to complete dominance at least in India where Orkut.com once ruled it all.

Coming from India, I have always had a special liking for Orkut and really don’t like Facebook scoring higher in popularity. This is despite the fact that I use Facebook much more frequently than Orkut. The migration from Orkut to Facebook has been happening at a rapid place in India and to a lesser extent in Brazil, where Orkut still holds a respectable lead. It is generally believed that the demise of Orkut is now just a question of when.

But is Orkut really dead? Is Google secretly enjoying success with the social network without many of us actually realizing it? I would rather make my point from these graphs below that show the website traffic trends from several third party tools like Alexa, Compete and Google Trends over the past one year.

Orkut traffic growth

Google Trends on the other hand shows a more gradual growth trend.

Orkut growth

There are two important points to note from these three graphs. Firstly, none of these graphs show a drop in traffic as it has been often claimed. The growth has been on the rise over the years. Secondly, there is an unexplained spike in growth around the October-November months of 2009 on all the three graphs.

As regular users of Orkut may readily point out, this was the period when Orkut introduced a drastic redesign of the website – when the universal sober blue of Orkut gave way to trendy bright colors. The redesign also saw Orkut introduce new Facebook like updates to the user’s homepage that was until then just used to display account information.

Orkut’s design change definitely seems to have worked since there has been a marked spike in usage since then. But how is it that Orkut’s usage seems to be on the rise despite the fact that regular users are migrating to Facebook? The answer is simply that Orkut is fast adding new members to its website and this growth is seemingly faster than the rate at which users are migrating. It needs to be noted that smaller towns in countries like India have only recently started seeing proliferation in internet usage. With its simple user interface and integration with Google’s own login system, Orkut definitely seems to be the platform of choice for these new users to connect to their friends and family.

Here is reassuring thought to all those who’ve loved Orkut – This social network is simply not going away anytime soon.

Social Gmail Not Just About Sharing Status Messages

Google is likely to make an announcement regarding “social services” in a few hours. The blogosphere is already abuzz with rumors about Gmail, by letting people share links and messages can be a Twitter killer.

If the rumors doing the rounds are to be believed, it would simply mean assorting all the GTalk status messages from users and displaying it the way Twitter displays tweets. While this can be something powerful, it is definitely something that Google would buzz about before making a launch.

So, what could be expected in today’s launch? Our assumption is that it could be much more. The Gmail window serves an important function of delivering the latest emails; something that is too important to many users to be tinkered around with status messages. What we see is an aggregation of the users’ social network activities – including Facebook, Twitter, Orkut as well as messages from Gmail on to one platform. The simplest place to begin would be iGoogle which is already the users’ customized homepage which could now be the one-stop to aggregate all of the users activities.

As should be obvious, it is entirely speculation and our own take on what could be coming. What are your views on this?