Ah, the power of those emerging world eyeballs. According to commenters and tipsters, a big thing that could be crashing Facebook today is a new feature that allows people to link their Orkut profiles to Facebook via Facebook connect. (Screenshot on this post.) Jaimin Rajani of Tech.nolicio.us tells us it has only been live about an hour.
This is important for two reasons: Brazil and India. Orkut is still by far the dominant social network in Brazil for the simple reason that that’s where everyone’s friends still are. And while Facebook has surpassed Orkut in India, Orkut is still a strong number two.
While, most people have identities on multiple social networks, most of us rely on one core service to organize our social lives more than the others. And because of the hassle of filling out a new profile, adding all new friends and importing photos all over again, changing social networks is hard. This is a big reason Friendster kept its lock on Southeast Asia as long as it did– although in places like Indonesia that too has been eroded by Facebook in the last year or so.
But for whatever reason, Orkut has been stickier, despite Google not putting a lot of work behind keeping it competitive. Not anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brazil and India are rivaling Indonesia as Facebook’s second largest audience in a few weeks.
From what I can tell, the swarm caught Facebook by surprise and I imagine it caught Google by even more surprise. For a company so intent on going social– did they just bungle two of the huge markets where they had an edge? We’ve called both companies for comments and will post more when they get back to us.