Orkut – named after its creator Orkut Büyükkökten - was one of the first social media services out there. It came out even before Facebook did!
It provided users with some well-known options - having an account, adding friends, sharing activities, pictures, or videos, sending personal messages, etc. It also had some innovative for its time features, such as customizing themes, having ‘crush lists,’ or rating your friends.
It was popular in Brazil and, to a lesser degree, in India.
In June 2014, Google announced the shut-down of Orkut: “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,” as cited by Reuters.
There are many reasons Orkut didn’t succeed on the social media stage. Most of them could be summed up in one word – Facebook. Even though Zuckerberg’s network launched a month after Orkut, it quickly became popular with users everywhere. Orkut, on the other hand, had a much more limited range of users.
With time Facebook proved much better as well. It was simple and reliable, offered privacy features, and a self-updating News Feed – something Orkut didn’t have.
Google’s social media started with a user-friendly design. As time went by, however, it turned more and more complicated. This affected negatively not just navigating the site, but the time it took for it to load. Furthermore, it never adapted to the demand for mobile-friendly sites.
Finally, Google started investing more time and resources in their new social network, Google+, which launched in 2011. They didn’t put much effort into developing or marketing Orkut further, so it never really became global.
All this considered, the shut-down wasn’t all that surprising.