Orkut preparing to take on Facebook

Orkut taking on Facebook is like David v. Goliath 2.0, but in the 2.0 version, David’s family has a ton of money with which to purchase him state of the art weapons.

Business Week has a long 2-pager on the future of Orkut talking about the opening of the Orkut platform a la Facebook (via TechCrunch. Here’s the part that I was most interested in, though:

Orkut itself could conceivably become a hub for accessing multiple social networks in one place, a concept demonstrated by another Google-funded Carnegie Mellon group last year in a project called Socialstream. “We don’t know what they will use,” cautions Brad Myers, project adviser and a professor of human-computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon.

But there are signs Google sees wisdom in a concept like Socialstream. In September, Orkut introduced an array of new features, some similar to those offered by other social networks. One addition was Updates from Your Friends, a box that alerts users to new photos or links to YouTube videos their friends have posted. Another was Feeds, which enables Orkut’s pages to display information posted on other sites—such as a blog from Google’s Blogger or Six Apart’s LiveJournal, or photos from Google’s Picasa and Yahoo’s (YHOO) Flickr.

If Google can integrate Orkut with it’s other services (like add a status update that synchs with your GoogleTalk status, or allows you to microblog from GoogleTalk), then it will certainly become more compelling. They certainly have some of the right ideas. And they have best-in-class office/productivity apps for just about everything except To Do lists. But will their push for sociality be to build Orkut into Socialstream, which would be a best-in-class social network app?

It’s funny cause I started this post in the morning, and by afternoon… More social networking developments for Google. Jaiku has been bought out by Google. Now, we all know that I am a fan of Jaiku despite only having 2 friends who use the service. But, once again, here’s the interesting part for me:

we’re eager to go beyond what’s there today, and build something completely new for you to enjoy. Take this as an invitation to join us on a journey to reinvent how you communicate and stay in touch with the people you care about.

The most obvious way that I see to read that is that they’re going to build a Jaiku app for the gPhone operating system. The second most obvious choice is they’re going to work on building Jaiku into Orkut to serve as Orkut’s News Feed. If it is the latter, then hopefully they’ll find a way to limit feed items by groups (as Facebook will be doing sometime soon). But first, Orkut will have to add the concept of groups to their current privacy areas of “friends,” “friends of friends,” and “everyone.” Perhaps the Communities play some part in the privacy settings, but I’m not familiar enough with Orkut to know.

The funniest part of the acquisition, though, is all the people on Twitter who are now fighting a Twitter v. Jaiku war via Tweets. Clearly a lot of people don’t know enough about Jaiku to realize that they can just throw their Twitter RSS feed into it and only have to update in one place. I’m sure that’s part of the decision process that led Google to buy Jaiku instead of Twitter. A very small part of the process, but part of it nonetheless.


Posted on October 9, 2007, in Facebook, Google, Longform, Social Networking, The New Web and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Orkut preparing to take on Facebook.

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