India seeing decline of Orkut and the rise of Facebook: Opera mobile statistics

It’s something we always knew, but just in case you wanted confirmation — mobile browser firm Opera has just delivered it — Facebook is the new Orkut for Indians.

Orkut, which unexpectedly became a hit in India (and Brazil) has found its going tough of late, particularly as users are spending more and more time on Facebook. Opera, which manages around 60-65% of the web traffic from mobile phones in India, concurs:

“While Orkut is declining in India, and Facebook taking over, it remains strong in Brazil,” it says in the May edition of its “State of the Mobile Web” report.

Analysts have always been puzzled by the intriguing popularity of Orkut in India and Brazil — practically the only two big countries where the platform became a big hit. However, hit by a lack of innovation (a news feed, for example) Orkut use has been on the decline while users are turning to Facebook more often.

Interestingly, Google, which owns Orkut, has just launched a jazzy social networking site called Google+ to take on Facebook.

Facebook also offered a finer grained control over privacy compared to Orkut, though most of the features that separated the two have now been bridged.

Facebook and online video are the two big ‘climbers’ on the State of Mobile report, prepared by the firm after analyzing which sites are opened by users on the mobile phones.

Unlike other browser companies, Opera redirects all the surfing done by its customers to its central servers located in a few places around the globe. Once the request for a page is made by the mobile phone, the Opera Mini browser sends the same to its nearest central server. The server then fetches the web-page and ‘simplifies’ and compresses it for better viewing on the mobile phone.

Due to this, Opera has a unique insight into what consumers around the World are doing on the mobile web. It is estimated to account for around 60-65% share of mobile web browsing in India.

India, it said, remains at number three in terms of the total Opera Mini users. In countries like the US, which has a large iPhone population, Opera Mini is less dominant as most iPhone users typically browse using the native browser, though the trend is starting to change.

The number of page views per user in India went up from 390 in May 2010 to 430 this year, it said.

In all, 113.5 million people, or about 6% of its total mobile subscribers, use Opera and 63.3 billion pages were served on a global basis during May — an average of around 560 pages per person per month.

Latin America was the strongest in terms of growth, with page views in the top 10 Latin American countries increasing 15 times in one year and users jumping around 5 fold and data increasing ten fold.