Forgive us for not noticing sooner, but last week Google’s social network Orkut announced that it is rolling out a complete redesign. The new site is faster and, like every other social network these days, puts the activity stream front and center. Orkut has actually reduced the number of pages so that the most popular actions can all be done from the home stream. For instance, there is now in-line commenting for status updates, photos, and videos. And the various notifications (“friend requests, testimonials, community requests or birthday announcements”) have all been consolidated onto the homepage as well.
Orkut also now has video chat, in addition to regular text IM. Access to other Google properties such as Gmail, maps, and search are now integrated at the top of the homepage. Profile pages are more customizable, and photo uploads are faster.
The changes come at a time when Orkut is seeing major encroachments by Facebook in its strongest markets of India and Brazil (despite its efforts to make it hard for Orkut users to switch).
Google’s social network definitely needs a refresh. In September, it attracted 51 million unique visitors across the world, down from 54.5 million in July, according to comScore. Facebook is about six times larger than Orkut worldwide, and even Twitter recently surpassed it with 58.4 million global visitors just to Twitter.com.
Can the stream save Orkut, or is it too late?
Hat tip to reader Anand Srinivasan