Orkut, the social networking service Google launched back in 2004, miraculously survived multiple rounds of spring cleaning despite the fact that it was never a huge hit outside of Brazil, India and a few other countries. It was always just a matter of time before Google was going to shut it down, however, and that day has now come.
On September 30, 2014, Orkut will be officially shut down. At that point, users won’t be able to log in anymore, photo export to Google+ will be unavailable, and all the APIs and other tools will go down, too.
Until September 2016, however, Orkut aficionados will still be able to export all of their data using Google Takeout. If you still want to see what Orkut was all about but you don’t have an account yet, it’s sadly too late to do that now. Sign-ups for new accounts have been disabled.
Orkut was one of Google’s first attempts to launch a social network. It never caught on in the U.S., but it did find its niche in countries like Brazil, where — for a while at least — it was the most popular social network. It wasn’t until 2012, for example, that Facebook finally overtook it there. In India, Orkut wasn’t able to hold on quite as long. There, it fell to Facebook in 2010.
Today, 50 percent of Orkut users are still in Brazil, 20 percent in India and just under 18 percent are from the U.S.
As far as active development goes, it looks like most of that stopped around 2012. The site still features Google’s old menu bar, and it looks like Google Talk never got any upgrade there either. After all this neglect, the site definitely looks a bit antiquated by now, so it’s no wonder that Google now wants users to move over to Google+ instead.
That’s not a bad record for a Google service that started out as a 20 percent project, but Google says that as YouTube, Blogger and Google+ have taken off (though some people may argue about the success of Google+), “the growth of these communities has outpaced Orkut’s growth.” Google says it wants to focus its “energy and resources on making these other social platforms as amazing as possible for everyone who uses them.”