Facebook leapfrogs Google's Orkut in India

Mountain View supports split personalities

Facebook’s popularity has overtaken Google’s Orkut in India, where Mountain View’s social network site had previously – and somewhat surprisingly – reigned supreme.

According to new figures from web traffic outfit comScore, Facebook edged ahead of Orkut in the past year with one million more users in India, where social network usage has shot up 43 per cent since July 2009.

Facebook pulled in 20.9 million users, while Orkut grabbed 19.9 million. Mark Zuckerberg’s company saw usage of its site leap 179 per cent in India in the past year. Orkut, meanwhile, grew by only 16 per cent in the country.

“The social networking phenomenon continues to gain steam worldwide, and India represents one of the fastest growing markets at the moment,” said comScore Asia-Pacific veep Will Hodgman.

“Though Facebook has tripled its audience in the past year to pace the growth for the category, several other social networking sites have posted their own sizeable gains.”

However, the comScore figures don’t give an entirely accurate picture of exactly who uses what social network in a given country, as its numbers exclude access via public computers and mobile phones or PDAs.

What the stats do show is that Google’s Orkut, which has failed to gain traction in the US since launch, is now losing its core market in India.

In related news, the Chocolate Factory said yesterday that it had tweaked Orkut to help users create different groups of “social circles” online.

“Social networks treated people from different groups like they were all the same: they were all ‘friends’,” wrote Google's Victor Ribeiro in a blog post.

“So we asked ourselves: does it need to work this way on the internet? Can we reproduce our groups of friends from real life on the internet? The answer is ‘yes!’ Starting today, we will change the core function of orkut so we can share and interact with different groups of friends on the internet just like we do in real life.”

Google said the changes to Orkut would be rolled out to its user-base over the next few days and added that there was “more to come”.

The company has of course been busily scooping up social network outfits from outside the Googleplex in a clear move to build a Facebook-wannabe site that isn’t tarnished by some of Mountain View’s high profile misfires in that market.

It’s less clear whether those tech firms bought by Google will have their code bolted onto Orkut, or if the company will create a shiny new social network site from the ground up. ®

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