While I spend a lot of time on Facebook and perhaps too much time talking about it, I’d entirely missed Robert Scoble’s exhortation to Google about getting Orkut into shape. Like Facebook, it holds the potential for becoming a networking platform but to date it’s received minimal development. How typical of Google. This is what Robert said about Orkut:
Google has the best mobile app on my mobile phone too. Maps, if youâ€™re on the iPhone, but if youâ€™re on Nokia the Mobile Google app suite is really great. Lots of you, I know, are on iGoogle, which looks a little bit like Facebookâ€™s profile page. Lots of you are using other things from Google. Picasa, for instance. Or customized Google searches. Or Google Reader. All of which would really benefit from having a Google Identity System.
So, could Google redesign Orkut, make it nice looking and functional (one of Facebookâ€™s greatest attributes) which would appeal to people like me who are looking for the next shiny thing to use functional identity system and application delivery platform that gets everyone excited.
Yes. And if Google got it’s act together on issues like Open ID (I too am fed up of multiple logins across multiple services) then it would leap frog the competition. Atlassian, which makes enterprise class wiki supports OpenID through its Crowd solution so why not Google?
In comments to an earlier piece of mine, Neil McIntyre said:
The popularity of Orkut in the developing world is astounding to me. It has taken hold so strongly in India and Brazil, I wonder why Google hasnâ€™t done more to promote it in North America and Europe.
Precisely. I suspect that folk who use Google apps would be out of Facebook in a New York minute.
I checked out Orkut and guess what? In India, there is a group for Chartered Accountants that has 12,919 members. That beats every accounting related Facebook group by a country mile. What makes Orkut so different in this context?
Orkut has good old fashioned forums. I’m not a fan but I can see why they make a difference and why they’re so popular. More to the point, I wonder how long it will be before someone somewhere develops an open platform (ie anyone can add apps) that is tailored for the business community. While all attention is on Facebook as a consumer platform, the business market is way bigger by value. Someone’s missing a trick. Microsoft anyone?