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Google Shutters Orkut, its First-Ever Social Media Site

Google Shutters Orkut, its First-Ever Social Media Site
By Jennifer LeClaire

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Orkut was Google's early effort at a social network -- and it wasn’t wildly successful. Orkut never really got traction outside of a few countries such as Brazil, where it had a large following. The launch of Google+ and Facebook's global conquest have apparently convinced Google to shutter the service, said analyst Greg Sterling.
 

Search giant Google is doing away with a social media property that may not mean much to Americans, but does mean a lot to Brazilians. Google is shutting down Orkut on September 30, 2014.

Orkut is an online community that, in its own words, aims to make social life more active and stimulating. Orkut promised its users a way to “maintain existing relationships with pictures and messages, and establish new ones by reaching out to people you've never met before.”

According to stats on Alexa.com, 4.7 percent of visitors to Orkut were from the United States, while 51.7 percent of visitors came from Brazil, and 13.3 percent hailed from India.

Built as a “20 percent” project 10 years ago, Orkut marked Google’s first entrance into social networking. Google engineering director Paulo Golgher likes to think Orkut helped shape life online before people really knew what “social networking” was. But it’s all about to come to a screeching halt.

Spinning the Shut Down

“Over the past decade, 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 bid Orkut farewell (or, tchau),” Golgher said. “We'll be focusing our energy and resources on making these other social platforms as amazing as possible for everyone who uses them.”

By waiting until Sept. 30 to shut down the social networking service, Google hopes members have plenty of time to manage the transition. Google, for example, is creating a way for members to export their profile data, community posts and photos using Google Takeout, a project by the Google Data Liberation front that allows Google product users to export data to downloadable zip files.

“It's been a great 10 years, and we apologize to those still actively using the service,” Golgher said. “We hope people will find other online communities to spark more conversations and build even more connections for the next decade and beyond.”

Orkut members have taken to Twitter to express their dismay and rehash old memories. @ViditSince tweeted, “I will miss orkut..i made my 1st GF thru it …” Meanwhile, @Shilproy tweeted, “#Google’s announcement to shut down #Orkut made me sad. It was the 1st site to connect me wid old friends, FB came much later. :(.” And @SirJadeja quipped, “Come on guys. It’s time [to] write Testimonials for #Orkut.”

All About the Money?

We caught up with Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, to get his take on the social media shut down. He reminded us that Orkut was Google's early effort at a social network -- and it wasn’t wildly successful.

“It never really got traction outside of a few countries such as Brazil, where it had a large following. The company's launch of Google+ and Facebook's global conquest have apparently convinced Google to shutter the service,” Sterling said.

“That necessarily leaves existing users frustrated and dissatisfied. However, Google's policy has been to discontinue initiatives without sufficient scale and/or revenue," he added.
 

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