If you were an early Orkut member and you’ve logged into it in the last few months, you’ll notice it’s been “hijacked.” Ok, that’s perhaps a strong way to put it, but Orkut’s American userbase in the last few months has slowly diluted and given rise to a new kind — millions of Brazillians and Indians — who now use it like Americans use MySpace/Facebook and Europeans’ Bebo. The social network which was way ahead of its time back in 2004 has stayed the same over the years — until now.
Rolling out in the next few days will be a new look for Orkut. The revamp features a lighter, brighter, and a more up-beat feel, similar to Facebook and Bebo. The overall layout of content and structure is still very much the same, but you could call it “Orkut 2.0” — that is, more rounded corners, shadows and Ajax. 😉 Check out the official blog posting here.
Before calling it out as a change which hardly anyone cares about, I think it’s worth noting the fact that Orkut is among the top social networks worldwide in terms of pageviews — both according to ComScore and Alexa. And let’s not forget, the demographic Orkut attracts from Brazil and India is a really large one — the combined population more than triples that of the U.S., and with growing Internet penetration, there’s likely a lot of opportunity in this market.
Additionally, this change leaves for another question: whatever is going to happen to the Google-funded SocialStream? Pete Cashmore predicts an eventual integration right into Orkut, but the way SocialStream looks to be — more of a social network aggregator than a social network itself — I think it’s more likely to come out as a separate Google offering with tight Orkut integration. Let’s see.