Case Study: Top 9 Reasons Why Google Shut Down Orkut in 2014

Orkut was founded by Orkut Büyükkökten, a Google employee, in 2004. After dramatic twists and turns, the popular social networking site made its sad and final exit in 2014. 

Orkut, one of the oldest social networking sites, was in many ways, going into its impending oblivion. Orkut’s existence was highly untenable with the emergence of several primary and other user-friendly social networking sites. It wasn’t doing enough to beat its competitors. 

The Google-owned social site provided several features to its users, but these were of no use in front of its main competitor, Facebook. Orkut’s Non-business friendliness and cumbersome account operating procedure were a couple of other vital reasons behind its downfall.

Orkut Vs. Facebook And Others – What Went Wrong

Privacy Concern: One of the biggest drawbacks of Orkut was ‘profile visitors.’ On Facebook, when you visit someone’s profile, then it remains anonymous. Most social networking sites keep such information secret.  But, Orkut immediately notifies a user when another user visits their profile. A user’s contact information is also explicitly shown on their profile, which can be easily seen or accessible to by another Orkut user.

News Feed: Facebook’s news feed is intuitive and smart. It shows you the latest news feed from your friends and FB pages that you follow or like. Your latest news feed automatically appears on screen chronologically, with the latest news feed being shown on top.  Even on Twitter, too, you can see the latest updates from your following list. No such facility was provided to Orkut users.  

Coding And Designs: The success of Facebook lies in its simplicity. Mark Zuckerberg-owned social networking site with over 2.40 billion users worldwide uses the simple PHP coding.  Contrarily, Orkut was utterly based on Javascript and ASP. The combination of Java and ASP made it complicated for users to handle their profiles easily and use Orkut’s available features. 

Page Creation: Orkut didn’t support the creation of separate pages that FB does. You can use Facebook for creating your own profile and page too. These days, the Facebook page is the easiest way to promote your products and services worldwide. Orkut wasn’t much business-friendly, and it didn’t provide any such facilities to its business users. 

Game Support: Facebook now supports multiple games that you can play using its platform. Be it online Ludo or candy crash; you can play many games anywhere and anytime using Facebook. But, you couldn’t play various online games from your Orkut handle. 

Worldwide Followers: Orkut’s followers were mainly based out of India, the US, Brazil, Japan, China, and the UK. Facebook, on the other hand, dominates the social media platform with around 40% market share across the globe. Facebook is hugely popular in almost all countries except China. Being an undemocratic nation, China doesn’t allow unrestricted use of social media on its land. 

Slow Speed: Facebook is much speedier as compared to Orkut. Call it a matter of time; but, we mostly use our Orkut profiles using 2G/ 3G network speed with much difficulty. It was quite a jarring experience to use Orkut in those days. Other social sites like Facebook and Twitter could be efficiently used at 2G/3G speed.

Lackluster Renovation: Ever since the launch of Facebook in 2004, the social media agglomerate has added newer and newer features to its products. Facebook, along with its sister concerns, Instagram, and WhatsApp, is making its platform simpler, user-friendly, and attractive.  But, Google wasn’t doing enough up-gradation on Orkut. In its 10-year life-span, Orkut saw just a couple of renovations – both failed to revive its reputation as a potent social networking site for socialites, influencers, and the youth.   Its first redesign enabled new updates from friends box, total friends count, and multiple languages support. Simultaneously, its second redesigned version helped any user with a Gmail user id and a password to easily sign in to their Orkut profiles. Thus both these major up-gradations were of not much worth to Orkut’s users. 

Multiple Website Access: Through the Sign in with Facebook option, any FB users can log in to various compatible websites. But, Orkut, in its decade-long existence, hadn’t provided any such facility to its users for getting easily accessed to other sites. No doubt, Facebook is now creating itself as a significant player for multiple site access using its credentials.  

Towards Orkut’s Last Few Days

A few years back before its untimely demise, Orkut tried to boost its image among Indian users. It started supporting multilingual conversation through which users could easily communicate in their own mother tongues. But it was short-lived, as Facebook and Twitter also started providing this option to their users.  Apart from India, Brazil, and the US, Orkut was quickly losing its relevance years preceding 2014. In 2010, Orkut started losing out to Facebook in terms of the user base.  According to ComScore, Globally, Orkut had 18.68-million registered users in September 2010 compared to Facebook’s overwhelming 24-million users’ base for the same period. With a steep decline in its follower base and inability to withstand the cut-throat competition from its rivals, Facebook, Twitter, among others, Orkut’s closure was imminent. 

It was only a matter of time – when Google announced its final closure in 2014.

The Final Word

Orkut surrendered itself to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and others, when it should have fought hard. You can blame it on Orkut for its lack of innovation, but somewhere, Google wasn’t too ambitious about it either. Historically, Google hadn’t been too keen about its social networking sites and messaging apps, with many of them making a mysterious entry and quick exit in a short time. 

Orkut wasn’t alone. Google also closed down its Google Talk (Instant messaging app) in 2017, Google Plus (G+), another social networking site, a couple of years later, in 2019.  Google is so busy with YouTube, search engines, and office-applications (alternatives to MS Office; Google Doc, Spreadsheet, and Slides). It hardly focuses on its other products and services.

Who knows, Google Hangout may also follow the same route that those apps did. Hangout is already losing momentums with each passing day, and it doesn’t have the same craze anymore that it used to have four-five years back!

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