Google (NSDQ: GOOG) owned social networking site Orkut is apparently planning to do the Facebook thing by opening up its Application Programming Interface (API) for developers around November 5, reports BusinessWeek. Google has refused comment. Third party applications are believed to have led to a 28 percent increase in Facebook’s user base between May and August. Chances are that Google will allow developers to host Orkut apps on their own servers. Businessweek speculates that such a feature will allow the creation of a widget that makes Orkut accessible via Facebook…well, that’s already happened, since an IIT student has developed such an application for Facebook, called MyOrkut. There are some security issues, though.
Tim O’Reilly, however, writes that facebook applications tend to be rather top heavy – that 84 of the 5,000 applications analyzed have 87% of the traffic. This, writes Chris Anderson, could be due to herd mentality, the fact that a majority of the applications are useless, and that there’s a limitation to the number of applications one can install, because of limited screen size.Can’t imagine why an application like ‘What’s your stripper name?’ would be valued at $2 million.
Orkut has a sizable Indian user base – around 6.5 million users, as per former Google India head Ashish Kashyap. The site has undergone a revamp in user interface, and incorporated Indian languages. They’ve incorporated updates on friends (news feeds) and we’ve heard from sources that there are mobile plans using SMS…which is significant since given mobile usage amongst Internet users in India is likely to be very high. BW also suggests that Google may also leverage their recently acquired mobile social network Zingku with Orkut. The story claims that in Asiapac, Orkut’s traffic has exceeded that of News Corp. (NYSE: NWS)owned Myspace, and pegs Asiapac usage at 11 million visitors a month.
Facebook has been steadily gaining momentum in India, spurred on by its privacy features and simple user interface. Orkut, on the other hand, has been plagued with ‘scrap spam’, and negative publicity over sensitive issues. Not surprising that Google India MD Shailesh Rao spends around 40 percent of his time interfacing with the Indian government.