Google’s Second Chance with Orkut?

Orkut is a social networking site which was created on the 24th January 2004 by Orkut Büyükkökten. Mr Büyükkökten at the time was a Google employee, which entitled him to spend 20% of his working hours on his own projects- of which Orkut was one. During its primary stages Google did not perceive Orkut to hold any value and so it didn’t invest any of its resources into it.

orkut's logo

Even without the backing of Google, Orkut still managed to become the most popular social networking site in many developing countries such as India, Estonia and Brazil. So what stopped it from becoming Facebook? The main flaw that drove away its users was speed- it simply didn’t have any. As Google didn’t invest in any new servers; when it was released in the States, Orkut simply wasn’t ready to operate on such a scale- and the network couldn’t keep up with the influx of users.  Marissa Meyer, Google’s number 4 executive explained that the slow service didn’t cause a problem in the developing countries as their bandwidth was to slow to notice; so until 2011, Orkut remained the favourite social networking site of the developing world.


a graph showing orkut vs facebook







So if Orkut is now being over powered by social networking giant, Facebook- why has Google suddenly gained so much interest in it? Over the years, Google has obtained over 400 million users, and has become the most popular search engine according to online traffic statistics. But the amount of information that their database holds about its users is diminutive compared to its competitors like Yahoo, MSN and AOL. Google’s main revenue comes from advertising and last year it reached (US) $42.5 billion- but with advertising becoming more targeted and personalised Google needed to acquire a more detailed database. Instead of pestering its users, both existing and potential, to register to use its service, it acquired Orkut- which came with a ‘piggybank’ of information about its users.


Although it was never Google’s intention to improve Orkut to such a point that it would overtake Facebook, they have kept it going as a social networking site. To differentiate itself from the others Google developed Orkut into an invite only site. This aimed to make people feel more special and distinct. In addition, to integrate Orkut more, Google have designed a badge which is given as a reward to Orkut members who also have a Google+ account.


Google’s future plans for Orkut are not evident, however it has been suggested by a few sources that Google might be interested in using Orkut to refine its search results for its users. These rumours origin from news that Google tried to purchase Friendster, shortly after Eurekster launched its social network service that specified in refining search results.