The Innovative Failure

Considering the influence of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, one would wonder if these sites are the pioneers of online socializing. The truth is that multiple platforms have contributed to the progressive evolution of the social media landscape, and one of such platforms is Orkut. In case you are wondering what Orkut represents, you are definitely not alone. Orkut was launched in January of 2004 by Google and the platform played a significant role in driving socializing and connecting with friends online.

Orkut was an in-house independent project commissioned to curtail industry competition that is fast becoming over-saturated at the time. In its early years, Orkut recorded remarkable success and archived its primary goal of becoming the most visited site. Nine Months after launch, the platform surpassed 2 million accounts, despite it being strictly on invitation. By 2007, the platform recorded over 65 million active users, became a massive breakthrough in the United States and spread virally across Brazil and India.

The catalyst to Orkut’s extinction

Through the Orkut platform, users can search for a contact or reunite with old friends, make new acquaintances, and create specialist communities. However, several events in Brazil and India dented the platform’s reputation, leading to a rising debate about the level of safety and privacy on the platform. Orkut was considered a medium that promoted hate toward religious communities, illegal drug dealings, and child pornography. The platform also experienced a high rate of fake profiles, cases of kidnaps and murders allegedly planned on the platform. Additionally, there was a mountain of litigations against Google Orkut’s parent company, especially in India and Brazil. The issues mentioned above, combined with intense industry competition, especially from Facebook and the failure to evolve and integrate products, constituted the decommissioning of the platform by Google, which led to its ultimate extinction.  

The problematic nature of Orkut platform

Google treated Orkut as a side business from the unset, not giving it the required attention or sufficient investment, which created deficiencies that competitors explored. Orkut users do not have the freedom to navigate different websites, forcing users to go through the registration process to glance through or log in. Orkut made no provisions to promote businesses and there were no like, share or entertainment features on the platform. Whereas Facebook has features that allow users to navigate different websites within its platform, promote enterprise, receive real-time news and entertainment.

Unlike Facebook, Orkut found it very difficult to optimize its platform and provide users with an easy to navigate and mobile compatible platform. While Facebook used a simple web language called PHP, Orkut used ASP for the front-end and JavaScript for the back-end, which resulted in challenges integrating apps to the existing platform. In addition, the Orkut platform became very slow and took longer than usual to load, which led to increased frustration from users. That frustration led to users shifting to platforms like Facebook to satisfy their social media preferences.

Finally, considering the recorded success of Orkut, it is unimaginable that such a platform fell through the cracks. What could have constituted the decommissioning of a platform that registered approximately 2 million users shortly after launch? What drove users to pursue alternative platforms for socializing, news, and entertainment needs? The answer lies in Orkut’s inability to evolve, monitor industry trends, keep users engaged, and integrate products for convenience. WeChat is a typical example of a platform that consistently evolved and integrated products that kept users engaged, thus eliminating users’ notion of pursuing alternative platforms to satisfy their needs.

One thought on “The Innovative Failure

  1. jbirdkickz

    This was a great case study, Success! When I read about Orkut I thought the same that they were not able to keep up with the times, so to say. It was due to this lack of interest from Google that ultimately led to its failure. If there was a solid management team dedicated to the success of the platform from the get-go, I bet a lot of this could have been avoided. I did not know about the suspicious activities that took place on the platform so that was interesting to read in your post. You clearly went above and beyond to find more information about the fall of Orkut.

    All in all, great work!

    Jesse Snow


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