Facebook Overtakes Orkut In India

Facebook has powered past Orkut to become the number-one social networking site in India, according to comScore. The Palo-Alto based company recorded 20.87 million unique visitors in July 2010, a massive leap from 7.47 million in July 2009.

Orkut was close behind with 19.87 million unique visitors last month but growth has stalled – this is only a modest increase from the 17.07 million recorded last year. Twitter also saw strong growth off a lower base, rising from 987,000 unique visitors in July 2009 to 3.34 million a year later.

The traffic statistics are for internet users aged 15 and over who accessed the sites from home or work. It excludes visits from public computers such as internet cafes or access from mobile phones or PDAs.

More than 33 million internet users in India visited social networking sites in July,84% of the total internet audience. India now ranks as the seventh largest market worldwide for social networking, after the U.S., China, Germany, Russian Federation, Brazil and the U.K. The total Indian social networking audience grew 43 percent in the past year, more than tripling the rate of growth of the total internet audience in India.

This demonstrates a trend for Facebook to become the dominant social networking site in most countries. India is a key market for social networking because it has 1.14 billion people and its population is expected to overtake China some time this century. India also has a rising middle class, growing computer usage, and democratic liberties such as freedom of speech.

I’m not surprised that Facebook would overtake Orkut because it makes sense for educated Indians to use the social networking site with the greatest international popularity. A large percentage of Indians speak fluent English and many Indians would know people in the U.S. or Britain, which both have large Indian expat communities.

It’s bad news for Google, which owns Orkut, and pretty much any social network that competes directly with Facebook. Google has been desperately trying to get on top of the social media trend and has launched products such as Buzz, which didn’t seem to get much buzz after the first week or two. But how can they compete when they can’t even beat Facebook with their own social network? Orkut had more than double the number of Indian users than Facebook a year ago and now it’s firmly in the number-two position – how long before it’s an also-ran? Google is now talking about launching a “Facebook Killer” but all that seems to be happening so far is that it’s getting killed by Facebook in the social web.

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