As one of the world’s leading technology companies, Google has made many attempts to join the ranks of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even SnapChat with its native social media platforms. However, just about every attempt, including Orkut, has been a massive ‘fail’ for Team Google.
Here’s the breakdown:
Orkut, Google’s initial attempt at social networking, came into existence in January 2004. It was shut down a little over ten years later in September 2014. Named after the founder (and then Google employee) Orkut Buyukkokten, Orkut quickly gained popularity across the globe. Most significantly, Orkut became the most frequently-visited website of the year in both Brazil and India by 2008. Much like Facebook, the basic idea was to connect with old friends while making new ones online.
- Zero Privacy – Everyone can see each other’s profiles.
- Peeping Tom – Orkut informs the profile owner of each and every visitor.
- No Business Mode- Unlike Facebook, Orkut did not accommodate the creation of business pages.
- Snail Speed- Super slow loading time, especially when compared to Facebook.
- Dismal User Experience.
- Lack of Interesting Features.
Part micro-blogging tool and part messaging platform, Google Buzz allowed its users to share photos, links, updates, videos, and even comments with a select group of friends or the public. Each of these shares would be categorized as ‘conversation’s within the account user’s inbox.
Buzz was rolled out back in February 2010 and a mere 8 months later, Google called it quits. The chief reason behind Buzz’s failure was Google’s shortsightedness on the privacy side of things. A major flaw that became apparent early on was the public disclosure of the user’s most frequent contacts. Another serious privacy flaw was the publication of the user’s exact geographical location while posting through Buzz’s mobile-version.
- Several design & delivery issues that compromised the user’s privacy.
- The team was unable to build authentic communities around Buzz.
- A Sloppy User Experience.
Part- Slack and Part- Google Chat, Google Wave was designed as a real-time collaboration tool for working professionals and students. Among the promised advantages was the ability to co-edit documents with multiple team members at the same time. The basic layout stayed close to familiar territory for Google; it essentially looked like the inbox of any generic email app. It was promoted as the ultimate group brainstorming tool, especially for teams that work remotely and across multiple timezones. There were some great ideas behind the creation of the tool but Google dropped the ball during the execution. Google announced Wave’s shutdown in August 2010 and the service waved for the very last time in April 2012.
- Invite-only Membership.
- Confusing interface that jammed multiple windows within a single browser window.
- Difficult to spot the latest message in a wave as it was often buried at the bottom. A user would have to manually scroll down to locate the newest message.
- The live typing feature, giving other users a preview of what’s being typed, could not be turned off.
- Inadequate or Misdirected Marketing Attempts.
As a messaging platform, Hangouts was meant to be Google’s answer to competing services from rivals like WhatsApp Messenger, iMessage, and Facebook Messenger. It offered instant messaging, VOIP and video conferencing facilities to its users. Not only that, Hangouts combined aspects of pre-existing products such as Google+ Messenger, Google Talk, and the Hangouts feature within Google+. The messenger service was also supposed to support the company’s very own telephone service called, not surprisingly, Google Voice. Despite the unimaginative branding, Hangouts achieved substantial success with its target consumer base. Need proof? One billion installs were recorded on Android devices. Google Hangouts was formally launched in May 2013. In 2017, the company revealed plans to provide Hangouts Meet (for video conferencing) and Hangouts Chat (for instant messaging) for businesses. The shutdown of the original,consumer-only version of Google Hangouts began back in October 2019 and will end in 2020.
- Trying to do too much at the same time.
- Unclear branding and overlapping features.
- Hangouts flooded multiple devices with alerts and notifications.
- Needed a separate plugin to run video calls for some browser combinations.
- Focused on migrating users towards the paid, enterprise version of Hangouts bundled within GSuite.
Unlike the other social media tools and platforms previously mentioned here, Google Plus was designated as a social media network from the very start. The shutdown of Orkut, Google Buzz, and Google Wave led up to the creation and launch of Google Plus in 2011. Some industry experts believe that Google was more interested in learning its users’ interests and preferences rather than running a full-scale social network.
- Low Consumer Adoption and Engagement Numbers.
- Significant Software Design Issues.
- Major Data Leak.