Bangaloreans look back at Orkut nostalgically, but say it didn’t adapt with the times

Remember that time when walls couldn’t be posted on, you had to leave a ‘scrap’ for your friend and you were judged by the kind of ‘testimonials’ your friends wrote for you?

Yes, rewind to circa 2005 when young Indian adults got their first taste of social networking with Googles Orkut. For the Noughties generation, the Internet had just stepped out of its ICQ phase, chat rooms were the new rage and web cameras had opened up a world of opportunities. Along came Orkut with its simple skyblue interface, allowing you to create a whole new virtual avatar for yourself.

This week, a good decade later, it took everyone by surprise when Google announced the decision to shut down the service. Those who hadn’t deleted their Orkut profiles received, on Saturday morning, a message to this effect in their inbox. Google said it has decided to focus energy and resources on newer platforms. Even those who had long abandoned Orkut are nostalgic. As Meenu Kallingal, a Bangalore-based 29-year-old lawyer, puts it: “It’s like your first love.” When Orkut was launched in 2004, its largest user base was in the United States. In a few years, most of the US crowd logged out, opting first for MySpace and then Facebook. By 2006, Brazil and India had the largest user base, so much so that the entire Orkut operations were moved to Brazil. The reason for Orkut’s popularity in these emerging markets, experts say, had to do with the fact that it functioned optimally at low network speeds.

While Facebook slowly started eating into Orkut’s pie , it wasn’t until 2010 that Facebook officially overtook Orkut in India, with 20.8 million users, compared to Orkut’s 19 million (according to Commscore reports). As of May last, 14.9 per cent of Orkut’s users are from India, second only to Brazil which accounts for 48 per cent. Tinu Cherian, a digital media professional said, “It was the first social media networking site, that made us realise that it was possible to connect with friends, relatives and everyone else virtually, ” he says. However, he adds, that the reason people logged out was that Orkut refused to adapt with the times.

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Goodbye, OrkutOctober 11, 2014

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