Google is known for closing down older sites as time goes on as the company did with its Google Reader last year. Now, the company’s back to close down another site that has been rather silenced for some time, its first social network site, Orkut. Google announced plans to shut down Orkut, its first attempt at building a social network.
Orkut was first released in 2004, several weeks before the debut of Facebook which is now the indisputable king of social networks with more than 1 billion monthly active users.
“Orkut was Google’s first foray into social networking,” Paulo Golgher, Orkut engineering director said in a blog post. “Orkut helped shape life online before people really knew what social networking was.”
The platform will be formally closed on September 30, after which users will be unable to log in or export their photo albums to Google+. Orkut grew out of Google’s 20 percent initiative which allowed employees to use a fifth of their working week on side projects. Orkut started few days before Facebook comes into existence and once it was more popular than Facebook. However, Facebook due to continuous improvements become the leader of social network.
Orkut’s user base consisted of Americans (18%), India residents (~20%) and Brazilians (~50%). Google’s reason for shutting down Orkut may have a lot to do with pushing people towards Google+, YouTube, and Blogger with the financial resources used for Orkut being better allocated elsewhere.
“It’s been a great 10 years and we apologize to those still actively using the service. We hope people will find other online communities to spark more conversations and build even more connections for the next decade and beyond,” Google Engineering Director Paulo Golgher wrote on the Orkut Blog.
Though the service never really caught on in America, it was the most popular social network in Brazil until 2012, when Facebook finally took over. Google actually moved Orkut headquarters to Brazil in 2008. As of May 2014, nearly half of Orkut traffic originated from Brazil.
Starting today, it will be impossible for newcomers to create a new Orkut account. Existing users can access the service as normal, however, Google says the three-month period should give the community time to manage the transition. Orkut enthusiasts can also export their profile data, community posts and photos using Google Takeout.
Orkut communities can still be accessed through an archive and profile data can be downloaded through September 2016.
The Orkut app will be removed from Google Play and the App Store later today. You can find out more about the changes and how its user base will be affected in the coming months here.
As it bids farewell to Orkut, Google will focus its energy and resources on continuing to build up YouTube, Blogger and Google+. The recent departure of Google+ head Vic Gundotra has sparked rumors that the less than successful social network could be headed for a similar fate, though the company has denied them. “Because the growth of these communities has outpaced Orkut’s growth, we’ve decided to bid Orkut farewell,” Golgher wrote.