Cycles of Social Networking Sites

It is interesting to see how Social Networking (SN) sites evolve.

Friendster took off like a rocketship when it launched. It was out of control – everyone was on it and everyone was talking about it. Then techonology problems (like an excruciatingly slow site) caused it to fall off a cliff. But, if you look at the graph below (from Alexa), they are reemerging…

Friendster

Orkut, Google’s venture into SN, also took off with a ton of press about Orkut Biakutten. Everyone I knew logged on, added all their friends and then, maybe 6 months later, everyone got tired of it and stopped. Primarily because there was no point.

But Orkut is *huge* in certain places. The well known one is Brazil, but they are actually also huge in India. All the evidence is anecdotal. Go to most any Indian blog and you will see mentions of Orkut. I also get a fair amount of messages from Indians on Orkut. Actually, looking at the Alexa numbers, there’s been an incredible spike as of Q2 of 2006. Why?

Orkut

And comparing Friendster versus Orkut, you can see that Orkut has clearly taken off.

Friendster vs. Orkut

Here’s an interesting blurb from ZDNet News (from July ’06):

In May, Orkut had 210,000 visitors in the United States, up 85 percent from the year earlier, according to ComScore.

Worldwide, Orkut enjoyed more popularity. It ranked fifth in May by ComScore’s measure, more than doubling its visitors for the year to 33.7 million. In contrast, MSN Spaces doubled its visitors to 101 million, and MySpace grew 250 percent to 74 million, according to ComScore.

Wow — US traffic is smaller than a speck of dust. Incredible how significant international growth is.

The only SN site that seems impervious to cycles is the juggernaut, MySpace.

  • Krishna

    MySpace might be taken down by

    (1) Litigation- Hey, it’s US based. All it takes is one judge/jury to go a little crazy

    (2) Legislation- that’s how the gaming sites have gone to Zero in the US. The authoritarian crazies (people like Hillary on the Left who want to ban games, and a ton of people on the Right who are just religious control freaks) might well pass laws to “protect” people from themselves

    (3) Privacy- when people wake up to the fact that the details of their lives are valuable and sharing them freely is an invitation to disaster

  • Shripriya

    Hi Krishna,

    Re: 1, not sure this is a huge issue. First, what’s the litigation about? Yes, this can happen, but for copyright? (there’s You Tube, which is a far bigger target).
    Re: 2, I think this is very different from gaming (which is against the law in the US. Even if you disagree, there is such a law). People expressing themselves (which is what most of MySpace is about) and artists promoting themselves doesn’t really lend to legislation in my book.
    Re: 3, I agree with you that this could be an issue. People don’t realize that the online stuff lives forever. And as they realize this, they might be more careful. But I believe the genie is out of the bottle on self-expression — the internet enables this like no other time in history and people will make the tradeoff of privacy versus creativity. But you’re right, there’s way too much information out there.

    Good discussion – thanks for your post!