Orkut, the social network, from Google was once the dominant force in social media space. In the year 2009, its popularity in countries like India and Brazil outnumbered its nearest rival Facebook by a wide margin. In Brazil, for instance it had 27 million users compared to 4 million users of Facebook at that time. However by the year 2011, Facebook had surpassed its user base by a distance. Google recently announced its decision to shut down Orkut on 30th September, this year.
So why did Orkut fail? The primary reason that most analysts feel is the interface. Orkut introduced an open lousy public chat room in the form of scraps, whereas Facebook provided a cleaner interface with newsfeeds where users could decide what they want to see. Incidentally, in its initial years, scraps and testimonials that users wrote on Orkut were the primary reasons for its popularity. In addition to this, the process of joining a community in Orkut was far more cumbersome than the simple easy to use like button in Facebook. Concern over privacy was another major issue though it seems to plague both the social networks equally.
The actual reason for Orkut’s failure was its inability to evolve. Google somehow missed the potential of social media and focused all its efforts towards building the search engine. Moreover, Orkut did not generate any substantial revenues either. In later stages of its lifecycle, Orkut tried to emulate Facebook, but by then it was already too late. Facebook on the other hand, was always focused on building a credible revenue stream, which today is beginning to compete with Google’s Adsense. Facebook further evolved itself from being just another social network to being an ecosystem of applications and a marketplace where consumers could connect with marketers and businesses. For any business to succeed in the social media space it is important to develop and build a sustainable revenue model. If we consider LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, they have been able to create their own distinct share in the advertiser market. Google failed on this front in case of Orkut. It only hoped, that just like YouTube did not generate any revenue in its formative years, Orkut too will follow suit and make money eventually.
To make matters worse, Google, rather than fighting back Facebook conceded defeat by launching Google+ and integrating it with all its available solutions. It launched parallel platforms like Buzz, Wave and Schemer clearly indicating its disarray and inability to take on Facebook with a unified effort. The writing, therefore, was always on the wall for Orkut. Sadly, though Google seems to have not yet learnt the lesson.
To some extent, Orkut is reminiscent of Windows98 based desktop computers whereas Facebook can be compared with new-age tablet PCs. We used Orkut in numbers and loved doing so, we still love it but we will never use it again.
Adieu to the world of scraps![/sociallocker]