If you’re saying to yourself right now, “what in the world is Orkut”, that’s exactly why Google is shutting down it’s first foray into the social networking space.
Orkut was actually released 10 years ago, during the heyday of Myspace and before Facebook was available to everyone in the world. The social network was designed to help users meet new friends and maintain relationships with old friends. It was named after the Google employee who created it Orkut Büyükkökten.
Had the social network caught on the way that Google had hoped it would have beat Facebook to the punch, however it did not. Orkut was out years before Google+ and even Google Buzz as well. For those not keeping score, Google Buzz was Google’s alternative to Twitter and a predecessor to Google+.
Orkut hung around for ten years though, partially because it did moderately well in South America.
Like Facebook and Google+ Orkut allowed users to upload pics and share videos via YouTube. There was also a way to do status like updates and chat with other Orkut users using Gtalk integration.
Like Myspace, Orkut allowed users to change their page to a theme of their choosing from official Orkut themes to themes developed by third parties and other users.
Orkut also had some features that predated things like Tinder. Users could add people to their “crush” list if they had a crush on them. Both users would be informed if they booth crushed each other.
All of these features weren’t enough to generate the usage that Google was hoping for.
In an email to Orkut users that Google entitled “A Farewell to Orkut” the company said:
“YouTube, Blogger, and Google+, have taken off, with communities springing up in every corner of the world. Because the growth of these communities has outpaced Orkut’s growth, we’ve decided to focus our energy and resources on making these other social platforms as amazing as possible for everyone who uses them.”
Google is officially closing Orkut down on September 30, 2014. They are creating a general community archive of Orkut on the same day and Google advises users who don’t want to be part of the archive, to deactivate their account prior to September 30th. Orkut users will have until September 16, 2016 (so almost two years) to export their Orkut data via Google’s Take Out service.