John Battelle, at PC Forum this week, reports that:

A pretty lengthy discussion of the role of social networking in their businesses, including Orkut. Eric [Schmidt, Google CEO] acknowledges that Orkut was strategic to Google's ability to know more about its users so as to provide better service to them, and when it comes out of beta, it'll be integrated in some way into Google.

(emphasis mine)

Now my Why Google needs Orkut piece doesn't seem quite so conspiratorial anymore, does it?

Posted by jzawodn at March 22, 2004 11:05 AM

Reader Comments
# Danny Sullivan said:

Absolutely, Google could (and probably will) use Orkut data to refine and personalize results in the way does. Eurekster is the service that launched days before Orkut and which actually does search refinement now, rather than potentially might be used for it in the future.

However, Google could get personal data without Orkut. Tomorrow, Google could unveil some Google News customization options and probably pull in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people who would give away some personal data to organize news as they want it. Similarly, they could let you set up a stock portfolio, do search tracking/alerts over time or other enticements.

In fact, Orkut is a bad strategy to follow, if you are serious about serving your users. Invite only? As you said in your original post, that might make some Google users feel special. But plenty of Google users already feel special. They'd sign up just to be part of whatever Google club was launched. Being exclusionary isn't necessarily a draw; in fact, it's more a drawback if the goal is to know more about your users overall. You want all of them to participate.

Orkut defintely promises potential. But it's a much more complicated way than necessary to get this data. As for being "integrated," that sounds to me like a reference that Google may embrace it more in the near-term with its own branding, rather than keeping it almost at arms-length, as it does not. But ultimately, I'm sure we will see the Orkut data help flow into the long-promised personalization at Google. Heck, they've been buying personalization companies since 2001. Time to see them start using it.

on March 22, 2004 11:56 AM
# wag said:

Do people really spend time using Orkut? It just seems like a goddamned waste of time compared to say doing work. try again, Eric.

on March 22, 2004 12:47 PM
# Manish Jethani said:

Orkut sucks. :) That's the most intelligent thing I can say about it.

on March 22, 2004 12:53 PM
# Matt said:

Anyone want to send me an invite so I too can feel the love that is Orkut...

on March 22, 2004 03:16 PM
# Terry Lambert said:

[Sorry, no email address - it won't let me obfuscate it; I'm easy to find anyway]

Most useful statistical information is non-demographic.

By this, I mean that the utility of the information is based on its
locality. Consider the most abundant examples of the "relationship
marketing" genre today, which are split between direct relationships,
such as those in you large chain supermarket "club card", and the
frequency marketing relationship cards, for example, those used by
Subway ("Sub Club - buy 8, get one free").

The frequency marketing cards are totally unrelated to any demographic
data whatsoever: they don't identify an individual to the merchant.

Now consider consider "club cards". They aren't generally used except
for statistical purposes, and for "rewards" programs -- the moral
equivalent of a slot machine pay-off.

As an example, it would be trivial to data-mine the information which
is theoretically associated with your "club card" to see if you were,
for example, lactose intolerant, or allergic to wheat gluten, and then
flag "out of the ordinary" purchases at the register.

In fact, we see this today with credit cards: make a purchase with a
credit card that you would never ordinarily make; I've done this. If
your card company is one that uses data mining (e.g. VISA), then the
card will be declined, the clerk asked to call the card issuer, and
then asked to put you on the phone to them to verify that it's in fact
you making the purchase.

Does this happen with "club cards"? No. Safeway doesn't decide to
bring back your brand of bottled water merely because you quit buying
bottled water from them at all when they replaced that section of their
shelves with nothing but "Safeway brand" water, and Albertsons doesn't
have the clerk warn you at the register that the product you are buying
this time, unlike all previous purchases, contains peanut oil.

Likewise, the demographic information collected by Google for Orkut is
far less useful for real marketing purposes than the statistical and
much more immediate association with the Schelling points you are
engaging when you pick a certain set of search terms. Your association
to your search terms is more immediate, and more useful to them.

Like the supermarket "club card", what they care about, what they should
care about, is your likely response to the ads they associate with the
search response. In other words, it's your immediate reaction that has
value to them.

Measuring your anus isn't going to get them where they want to be, any
more than any of these other social networking companies are going to
get there by attempting to instrument your life.


Because they are collecting the data, the better to sell you, not the
better to serve your needs -- they are doing it to serve *their* needs,
not yours. Unlike the credit card companies, there's no overriding business
reason, such as having to at the costs of fraud to stay in business, to do
this for you.

And if you don't think this is true, buy something wierd with a credit
card at the mall, and then go to Safeway or Albertsons, or whatever
supermarket you go to where you have a club card, and buy something
weird there. And se which purchase gets flagged for your benefit.

on March 23, 2004 02:29 AM
# Michael Heraghty said:

At the time of the Orkut launch, Google said it had no plans to merge Orkut into the engine at this time.

But, two days ago, Eric Schmidt said he absolutely has plans to integrate Orkut into Google's search engine.

This *after* everybody had volunteered their information.

on March 26, 2004 10:52 AM
# akaraman said:

need invite for orkut

on October 2, 2004 08:46 AM
# AKIN said:

I need invite for

on October 2, 2004 08:48 AM
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on August 27, 2005 11:01 AM
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