Instapundit recently reported
Last week Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. agreed to pay $580 million for Intermix Media, owner of the popular community website Myspace.com which had 17.7 million visitors in June. The announcement came just days after News Corp. formed its Fox Interactive Media unit.
Which shows that the phenomenon of community websites for social networking is starting to become big business. This article relates what it calls "Facebook Frenzy" about Facebook.com, which apparently has become the most popular community website in university campuses.
Facebook is an Internet sensation at campuses across the nation. Constantly updated by its 2.8 million registered users at more than 800 colleges and universities, the Facebook takes the local malt shop social nexus of the 1950s and makes it universal.
Started by three Harvard sophomores in February 2004 as an online directory to connect the higher education world through social networks, the Facebook now registers more than 5,800 new users a day.
Hughes said Facebook turns a profit, mostly from advertising. He refused to disclose the private company's earnings.
Other networking community websites include Friendster.com which claims 19+ million profiles and blogs, meetup.com and hi5.com. Other differentiated networking sites are linkedin.com and rize.com, which promote professional and business networking as opposed to social networking. Sites like Flickr.com and Multiply.com emphasize the use of blogs and photologs.
As nearly everyone knows, Orkut is Google’s entry in the crowded “social networking” field. Orkut seems to be relying on the combination of the powerful Google brand combined with an invitation-only policy to create interest in a service that otherwise would be regarded as late to the game. Like other social networking services, which are designed to connect people who want to date, make friends, or do business together
However, for reasons that at this point are unclear, Orkut.com has become a site that is for all practical purposes a "Brazilian" site. As of this date, about 75% of the users state their country of residency as Brazil, and even this understates the number of Brazilian users since Brazilians living all over the world have also joined the site while registering under their country of residency. The second largest number of users are from the U.S., at about 5%. Posting in Orkut's forums is now done in Portuguese in most of the communities.
Due to the amount of Brazilian users and communities in the Portuguese language, users from other parts of the world have become upset with the service, which had English as its default language. Some went as far as to start online communities and discussion groups dedicated to complain about this phenomenon.
The reasons for this phenomenon apparently follows the Brazilian Internet Phenomenon. Services such as weblogs and photoblogs are now very popular with Brazilian users as well. For example, it's not hard to see Internet searches within the Brazilian territory returning several results pointing to weblog entries. That is seldom seen in other parts of the world. The popularity of such services in Brazil intrigues many people, making this phenomenon worthy of study.
In order to understand the scale of the Brazilian Internet Phenomenon as it relates to Orkut, I put together the following statistics comparing the numbers of users in Orkut to Brazilian and U.S. internet users
Population of Brazil 181.8 Million
Population of U.S. 296 Million
# of internet users in Brazil 17.9 Million
% of population 9.9%
# of internet users in the U.S. 200.9 Million
% of population 67.8%
# of enrolled college students in Brazil 1.5 Million
% of Population 0.8%
# of enrolled college students in U.S. 15 million
% of Population 5%
% orkut users of college age 18-25 54%
Approximate total of # of orkut users 7.5 Million
% of orkut users from Brazil 73.8%
# of orkut users from Brazil 5.5 Million
# of Brazilian orkut users as % of Brazilian internet users 30%
It is clear that the Brazilian Internet Phenomenon in Orkut is massive as represented by the huge % of Brazilian Internet users that are members of Orkut. I can understand why Americans have migrated to other forums, but it is still somewhat inexplicable to me why other countries have not claimed stakes in Orkut (i.e. Mexico), or why there is not a similar forum of Brazilian origin, with Brazilian advertising. I would think that any Brazilian internet company would kill to have anything even close to the success of Orkut and that at the same time had paid advertising.