Humble beginnings to a worldwide phenomenon. This statement can very aptly summarize the short journey of social networking Goliath Orkut and Facebook. These humble beginnings have emerged as a gift to mankind, helping unite innumerable friends and relatives who were lost, or simply drifted apart.
Orkut was internally commissioned by Google to their developer Orkut Buyukkokten in 2003 as their social networking platform, and was launched on 24th January, 2004. On a totally antagonistic scale, Facebook was developed by Mark Zuckerberg, a sophomore at Harvard University, just to help students get to know each other. Though Facebook was launched a month after Orkut, and Orkut having the backing of a major software giant, Facebook has all but overtaken Orkut.
Orkut has a more regional appeal. In December 2009, 51.09% of its users were Brazilian, followed by 20.02% of Indian users. Facebook, on the other hand, has a more uniformly distributed user base. Thus, its starting popularity may have been slow, but Facebook’s growth is more rapid, being global rather than regional. This is made obvious by the fact that in May 2010, while Orkut recorded a growth of merely 3.4%, Facebook recorded a whopping 15% growth. Facebook has also emerged as the most popular photo and video sharing website in India, ahead of even Youtube!!!
The most glaring differences which make Facebook an immediate international favorite are many ‘tabbed’. There is the most obvious interface difference. Facebook offers much more information on a profile home page, while maintaining its visual aesthetics. There is no need to have a Google ID for Facebook. This is convenient because getting an easy to remember Google ID has become a herculean task these days, thanks to the array of services offered by Google, and their humongous user base. Also, finding people on Facebook is comparatively easier, as an individual can also make friend suggestions to another person, in addition to the suggestions algorithm integrated with Facebook. Orkut lacks the human touch, and depends solely on its algorithm, which very easily overlooks an emotional connection, and thus can skip some suggested profiles.
Facebook has taken social networking to a completely new level by providing interactive online games. These games provide an added facet to connecting with people one doesn’t know. Then there are numerous interesting applications which can keep a user riveted for hours on end, as opposed to the interactively bland Orkut experience. Facebook offers much more than social networking, it offers social intermingling.
I have been using Orkut for more than three years now, and Facebook for just a year, yet Facebook manages to happily surprise me even today, while Orkut has not changed much. It is this change and innovation which is spurring Facebook to greater heights, and it is simply a matter of time before Facebook dwarfs Orkut.