For all the grief Google gets for not understanding social networks, people often forget that it owns a pretty big one, Orkut. While Orkut is much smaller than Facebook worldwide, it does dominate in at least two large countries: Brazil and India. But that soon may change.
India looks like it is about to fall to Facebook. In May, 2010, Facebook attracted 18 million unique visitors in India, compared to Orkut’s 19.7 million (comScore). In the past year, Facebook grew 177 percent from 6.5 million Indian visitors, compared to 35 percent growth for Orkut. When the June numbers come out, Facebook may very well surpass Orkut in that country. Indeed, Google’s own Trends for websites shows Facebook edging out Orkut in India last month.
Facebook has been pouring a lot of resources into India, and is currently hiring 500 people there. It is a major global priority for the company. Brazil, however, is still safe for Orkut, with 29 million visitors a months versus only 8 million for Facebook.
But Google is no longer pinning its social networking hopes on Orkut. It has moved onto other things like cloning Facebook with its not-so-secret Google Me project. Well, it might not be a complete clone, if the ideas of one Google researcher are any indication.