With the 3G iPhone being released to over 70 countries this year--including Brazil and India--one has to wonder whether or not Google is busy creating an iPhone interface for Orkut, since some of their "siblings" (i.e.Gmail, Google Reader, and Google Talk) have specialized "iPortals" for their users.
While building an iPhone interface for Orkut would be awesome (as it would give users a lot more functionality than the mobile site), the Orkut team may want to consider going beyond the iPhone and focus on creating a "smart phone" friendly site, as not everyone is into the iPhone (note: yeah, some people think the Touch Diamond is better).
With more social networks creating smart phone friendly versions of their sites, it would be in Orkut best interest to do the same--and help take mobile social networks to the next level. Here is my view on how Google could do this.
- GPS "Friend" Mapping
Since many of the upcoming smart phones are including GPS as a feature, Google may want to consider resurrecting Orkut friend maps (which they previously disabled) within Orkut.
Instead of simply listing where people are located, Google could enable a feature that lists your current position within your country, or at least notify you when your friends are nearby (similar to what Dodgeball does, without the annoying "friend of friend" alerts).
This would be a "killer feature" within Orkut, and with one company already building something similar for the iPhone, having an interface within Orkut would make the site really popular--at least in Brazil and India.
- Video/Photo Albums
Most smart phones (and even basic phones) come equiped with a built in camera that allows users to take both images and video. Even though the iPhone lacks video (unless you hack it of course), it does do an awesome job of taking pictures.
If Google considered developing a smart phone version of Orkut, they may want to give users the ability to upload images and video (note: perhaps via YouTube) within their respective albums, as it would make building ones album a lot easier and more fun (especially since they have enabled tagging of Orkut albums).
- Hyperlink Calling
One of the cool things about the iPhone is that the Safari browser automatically "hyperlinks" most phone numbers, enabling you to simply tap on the number in order to talk to your friend, a client or even a local business.
Since many users list their phone numbers on Orkut (note: be sure to use a digital number, unless you enjoy hearing spammers on your voicemail), Google should make it easier to contact users by hyperlinking the phone numbers for smart phones, a feature that is currently not available for Orkut's basic mobile site.
Even though it would be really cool for Google to launch an iPhone only site for Orkut (something I would enjoy), it would be even better for them to develop a smart phone friendly site instead (or at least as an alternative).
(Image Screen Shot via TestiPhone.com)