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ComScore: Facebook has passed Orkut in India

Social networking use in India--one of the Google-owned Orkut's strongholds--is now slightly dominated by Facebook.

U.S. Department of State

New ComScore figures show that Facebook now has a traffic advantage over social network Orkut in India, one of the Google-owned site's long-lasting strongholds and a major target for Facebook.

Use of social networks in India grew 43 percent from July 2009 to July 2010, the numbers show. More than 33 million people in India (15 and older) are now using social-networking sites. That's 84 percent of all Internet users in that country. Traffic firm ComScore found that with 20.9 million users in India, Facebook now has a slight edge over Orkut, which has 19.9 million users. Facebook grew 179 percent in India in the past year; Orkut grew 16 percent.

Something that should be taken into account is the fact that ComScore's numbers chart only home and work Internet use, which excludes mobile access and public computers at Internet cafes or libraries. As Facebook continues to make inroads into international markets--where more computing activity takes place on mobile devices or at communal connections--statistics about its growth will be less reliable if they're restricted as such.

Orkut, founded in 2004 as a side project by a Google engineer, never made much of an impact in the U.S. But it gained big followings in India and in Brazil, where it remains so popular that Facebook has had difficulty making inroads there.

Last month, right after Facebook reached 500 million members worldwide, ComScore analysts pointed out its biggest potential areas for growth. In the Asia-Pacific region overall, ComScore said, Facebook only has 17 percent market penetration.

On a related note, the same set of ComScore numbers found that while Twitter remains significantly smaller than Facebook in India (3.3 million users), it's growing faster. From July 2009 to July 2010, Twitter usage in India grew 239 percent.