Google’s social networking platform Orkut is all set to get a make over by the end of this fortnight. Despite making several attempts, including giving away free movie tickets, the site continues to see a decline in popularity, if Alexa figures are anything to go by (though we don’t endorse Alexa, it can be used for comparative purposes). It ranks ninth in India, six places lower than Facebook, and more interestingly, having also been superceded by Twitter, which is eighth. Ouch.

Three reasons why I think Orkut is on the decline, and where Google messed up:

– Not open-social: With the integration of the social sharing element in most parts of the web, especially media sites, a majority of which have embraced Facebook and Twitter, Orkut just hangs in limbo, having missed the “Open Graph’ opportunity. Which was the last media site you saw integrate ‘sharing’ Orkut?
– Not global enough: The other issue is that hardly any web based tools have integrated Orkut, primarily because Google had taken a regional approach with it, targeting only Brazilians and Indians, overlooking the fact that the web is all about being glocal.
– Indifferent Google support for Android: Why didn’t Google use the Android opportunity to push Orkut? The Orkut Android app was launched around a year ago, but it should have been there in Android to begin with. If GMail can, then why not Orkut?

Still, for the benefit of those who care, here few changes to Orkut, some of them facebook-ish: a navigation bar at the left which will link to the most commonly used features (screenshot), a larger profile picture view, a new full-profile view displaying the user’s info, interests, badges, testimonials and recent photos & videos (screenshot), and a Facebook-like full screen slideshow integrated picture browser (screenshot).

Open house: What do you think? Is Orkut a lost cause? What should Orkut do?