Home Orkut + Dodgeball: Why Google Will Merge Them

Orkut + Dodgeball: Why Google Will Merge Them

I’ve been hearing whispers that Google will integrate their social network Orkut with the mobile social networking app they acquired
last year, Dodgeball. While it’s not rocket
science to make the connection between the two products (both are social networking), the
reasons to join the two are becoming more compelling… Here are some of them:

1) Social networking has been the biggest thing going in 2006 (MySpace, Facebook,
Bebo, etc). And it looks like mobile will be big next year. So SNS + Mobile seems the
logical sequel.

2) There is also the trend of meta-social networks, like Marc Canter’s PeopleAggregator. It was actually the latest
New Scientist magazine which rang a little bell in my mind about this. An article called

Living Online: This is your space
(full article not online yet unfortunately)
concluded by saying that an individual’s identity will be managed by a meta-network,
which we will carry with us “in small wireless devices so that our virtual identities
become seamlessly integrated with the real world.” That online/offline balance is one of
the main things mobile Web has going for it. So meta-SNS + Mobile is another trend I
think we’ll see emerge…

3) Peter Dawson pointed me to Mihai
Parparita’s blog, who has a great post entitled Facebook meets
. In it Mihai writes:

“…I thought it would be cool to syndicate my Dodgeball check-ins into my Facebook profile, via
their blog (i.e. RSS feed) to notes import feature. It worked pretty well […] and it’s
sort of neat that these two social networking sites are open even slightly, allowing such
co-mingling of data.”

So co-mingling of SNS data, to borrow Mihai’s neat phrase, is another trend that is
hotting up.

4) Demographics are similar between Orkut and Dodgeball. All evidence points to Dodgeball being used mostly by young people. In Brazil, home to 65-70% of the
Orkut user base, it is mostly 13-30 year olds who use Orkut. And in my recent Top Web Apps in
post, it was established that Brazil is a sophisticated Web market (at least
in the main cities).

In terms of mobile usage, Brazil is nearly at 100 Million users
according to a recent report:

“The number of Brazilians owning mobile phones rose to 94.9 million in August, up 2%
from July, according to preliminary figures released Monday by telecommunications
regulator Anatel. Brazilian mobile phone ownership rose more than 20% when compared with
September of 2005, when the number of mobile phones was 78.9 million.”

While obviously Orkut + Dodgeball is not all about Brazil, it’s probably a good pointer to how
complementary the two services are. However I imagine Google will target the US market
first, as they always do.


While there’s no firm evidence yet that Orkut will merge with Dodgeball, I believe
it’s just a matter of time. John Battelle even kind of predicted it back in May
2005, with this comment: “What is Dodgeball? I dunno, but is seems like Orkut + Mobile
done right, I think.”

In any case, the high level trends point to it happening soon: SNS + Mobile; meta-SNS
+ Mobile; Co-mingling of data between SNS; similar demographics.

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