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Google says Orkut not late to open up

Friday, 2 May 2008 - 4:06am IST
Google Inc compared to the US-centric Facebook, as its stable applications are culturally and geographically suited for Orkut users.

Launches OpenSocial applications to add games, music videos


NEW DELHI: Google Inc, the web search and related advertising leader, said it is “not late” with the launch of OpenSocial applications on its social networking portal Orkut, compared to the US-centric Facebook, as its stable applications are culturally and geographically suited for Orkut users.


Last month, Google opened up Orkut for third party developers by launching OpenSocial applications that allows users to add games, music etc. to their profile page.


“I don’t think we are late compared to Facebook. We wanted to be sure that the platform is stable for consumer launch. We launched the platform in November last year for developers, so that they could start building OpenSocial applications,” Google’s product manager Manu Rekhi told DNA Money.


OpenSocial provides a common application programming interface (API) platform for social applications across multiple websites, with standard JavaScript and HTML, developers can create applications to access a social network’s friends and update feeds.
 
Rekhi said that many Orkut applications are built for India-specific users such as Bollywoood and cricket applications, which doesn’t make sense on Facebook.


Rajat Agarwalla from Kolkata, who invented Scrabulous, the fifth-most popular application on Facebook, which boasts of 3 million registered users, will launch the application on Orkut “next week”.


“We will be releasing Scrabulous and ChessPro on Orkut next week and I believe it to be equally successful on Orkut, if not more,” Agarwalla said from his Kolkata office.


India and Brazil has the largest user base for Orkut, whereas Facebook boasts of heavy usage from the US and the UK. Many experts believe Facebook to be the pioneer in the third-party application within social-networking space, and making money from it. Websites such as Engage.com, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo, Salesforce.com, and XING etc have already started implementing OpenSocial.


However, the Palo Alto, California-based Facebook is not part of the OpenSocial platform, yet, but Google is open to work with Facebook.


“We talk to everyone including Facebook, so we would be very happy and welcome if Facebook wants to be part of this,” Rekhi said.


The open social trend took off some years back, especially after Youtube allowed users to upload Youtube videos on their websites. Facebook put more structure to third party applications development. 

However, Facebook critics see its structure as walled garden, where what happens on Facebook tends to stay within it.

“So OpenSocial is going one step further saying that walled garden should not be there, so this is more progressing,” Rekhi said. 


Orkut, which went live for third party application last month, said it is launching applications slowly.


“We have 28 application launched and have hundreds of developers building on sandbox. Half of the applications were by Indian developers, and their quality is world class,” Rekhi said.


Orkut supports a developer sandbox where they can write applications using OpenSocial. Developer can expect their application to go live on Orkut in 4-5 business days after all the testing, approvals and security checks.  On the other hand its rival Facebook has over 20,000 applications on its platform with 140 new applications added per day.

Orkut had the first-mover advantage in India and almost got everyone within the 18-30 age segment on board, however, Facebook has slowly started to eat away Orkut’s market share in India, and is attracting more users on its site.


Facebooks boasts of 70 million active users and its fastest growing demographic is those 25 years old and older, while, Orkut has more than 60% users from the age group of 18-25.
 
Orkut has development centres in India, Brazil, the US, and a small team in Zurich.


vivek_s@dnaindia.net




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