Google To Shutter Orkut Social Network

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Launched in 2004, the same year as Facebook, Orkut only caught on in Brazil and India

Google is to shut down Orkut, a pioneering social networking service that gained a wide user base in Brazil and India, but was overtaken by rivals such as Facebook elsewhere.

Orkut was founded in 2004, the same year as Facebook, by Google engineer Orkut Büyükkökten, under a programme that allows Google staff to spend 20 percent of their time on independent projects. (Other widely successful products, such as Gmail, have emerged from this “20 percent” scheme over the years, although according to some ex-Google staff this policy, officially known as “Google Innovation Time Off,” is no longer very effective.)

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Competition

“Over the past decade, YouTube, Blogger and Google+ have taken off, with communities springing up in every corner of the world,” Google said in a blog post. “Because the growth of these communities has outpaced Orkut’s growth, we’ve decided to bid Orkut farewell.”

The site will close as of 30 September. Google declined to say how many users Orkut has. In a rather obvious sign that the company was scaling back its commitment to the service, the announcement of Orkut’s demise is first post on the Orkut blog in nearly two years.

Google has made multiple efforts in the social networking domain, with Google+ as its latest effort. However, Vic Gundotra, the head of the company’s social networking services, left the company in April, raising questions about Google’s current social offerings. Gundotra said in October that 300 million users visit the Google+ web page each month – but this still trails behind Facebook’s 1.28 billion users.

Google has increasingly positioned Google+ as a unified user identity across all its products, and last year began requiring YouTube users to sign in with the social service in order to post comments.

Archive

Google said it will offer users the option of exporting their Orkut profile and other data for the next two years, but isn’t offering an option for migrating directly to Google+.

“We are preserving an archive of all public communities, which will be available online starting 30 September, 2014,” Google stated. “If you don’t want your posts or name to be included in the community archive, you can remove Orkut permanently from your Google account.”

Recent Google efforts have focused on a wide range of areas, from smart cars to affordable smartphones to Glass, the Android-powered spectacles, which recently launched in the UK.

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