Business – Orkut gets facelift; India, Brazil behind makeover
Bangalore, Oct. 30 Conceding to popular user demand and feedback, Google has given its social networking site Orkut a facelift. And much of the engineering behind the revamp (which promises user a faster and easier experience) has come from India and Brazil, which account for a chunk of Orkut’s global user base.
Orkut has 80 million active users (those who log in at least once every 30 days). A major part of that is from Brazil and India, probably due to the huge youth population in these countries, says Mr Mr Rahul S. Kulkarni, Product Manager at Google.
The make-over comes at a time when competition in the social networking space is heating up with many players such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
On whether growing competition prompted Google to go in for an overhaul for Orkut, the company says it’s not bothered by what competition does.
Driven by user feedback
“The new Orkut is driven by user feedback and research for the last several months on how people use social media and the kind of interactions users have on networking sites,” says Mr Kulkarni.
Apart from a new look and feel, Google has packed Orkut with more features and functions. The new site has a prominent ‘user bar’ on top which displays the user’s status and other personal details such as e-mail.
The site also integrates youtube seamlessly so that users can view videos within the Orkut environment without opening new pages.
Video chat, faster photo upload, video testimonials, face detection and typing text in various colours are other new features.
The new Orkut will rank friends based on some inbuilt logic and gives updates on them based on importance.
“This feature is based on our research insight that people don’t want to interact with a stream of thousand people but want to interact with 15-20 people they really care about each day,” says Mr Kulkarni.
The revamped site is by-invitation only. Google has sent out initial invitations to a set of active users and engineers who will in turn invite others to the network.
On why it took the company so long for the revamp (Orkut was launched in 2004), Mr Kulkarni says Google believes in intensive research and is not interested in “putting up a pretty picture out there.” “What we have done with the new-look Orkut is a complete revamp of the front-end architecture. We have created an infrastructure online that enables us to add features easily. Going forward, you will see lot of action and features in Orkut in terms of the product and what the users can do.”
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