Rediff has launched what appears to be a fairly basic social network called Sociali. While Rediff has told WATBlog that it is just a sandbox for testing applications by developers for their developer platform, also called Sociali, the site does have the functionality of a basic social network. We’d reported on the launch of Sociali in July.

I just signed up for Sociali, and to start off, I was given the option of importng my data from Orkut (Google’s social-net), and/or add friends from email (a way to get more users on board). The site allows users to write on another users wall/send scraps, and maintain both personal and professional profiles. Like I said – a basic social network. The additional functionality comes from applications, which this will indeed work as a sandbox for – Rediff currently has 13 applications active on the network. I searched for some people on Sociali, to get an idea of how many have registered, and it appears that Rediff has ported user profiles from Connexions to Sociali.

Opportunity:
I think the success of Sociali as a social networking site depends entirely on its integration with other products in Rediffs portfolio. This can work in two ways –

Firstly, a users Sociali profile page can be his window to the content and communities he has subscribed to on Rediff. This will make content discovery easier, and increase interaction among users.

Secondly, it will allow users to discover others – for example, if a user with a Sociali profile comments on a news story, others can discover more about him via his Sociali page – comments on other news stories, videos uploaded on iShare, blog posts on iLand. These interactions around content can be a far richer experience for users, than merely identifying users from their friend circle, which is the norm on social networking sites.

Challenges

While Rediff does claim to have 12-12.5 million users, how many of these are active? While it won’t be much of an issue to getting a userbase for Sociali – as evident from the fact that they’ve ported users from Connexions to Sociali – getting users to use the site instead of Orkut, Facebook or Hi5 will be an issue. Frankly, I’m suffering from Social Network fatigue, and now only using Twitter.