(Hat Tip: TechCrunch and Search Engine Land)
Unless you have been living a geek free life, you have probably heard about Google closing down Dodgeball, Mashup Editor, Jaiku (which will live on in the open source wilderness), as well as choking uploads to Google Video and removing support for Google Notebooks.
This wave of shutdowns surprised many people, causing some to wonder if Google will close down other popular (yet expensive) services--Orkut included.
While it is impossible to know which services Google may shut down (unless one is a Googler themselves), here are a few reasons why I think the search engine giant may decide to keep Orkut alive instead of killing it off in order to survive the upcoming recession.
- Orkut has influence: Despite failing in America, Orkut is very popular in both Brazil and India. If one were to look at global trends, Orkut comes in 9th place (according to comScore) when it comes to unique visitors.
If Google ever did shut down Orkut, there would probably be a lot of outrage in South America and the Indian subcontinent (which would hurt the Google brand over seas).
- Potential for profit: With Orkut now running Google Adsense throughout forums, searches and (unfortunately) profiles, Orkut may just be creating a little wealth for Google (if not paying for most of the costs to keep the servers alive).
Orkut may also be able to generate some extra cash by entering the VoIP arena (with some help from Google Talk and GrandCentral).
Note: Orkut also has a third option, but I'll save that for another post. ;-)
- Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers!: Orkut is one of the few non search Google services that has a large following of third party companies or (as Steve Baller of Microsoft likes to call them) developers, developers, developers, developers!
Thus far Orkut has almost 2,000 Orkut apps created by third party companies or hackers, not to mention countless GreaseMonkey scripts and Firefox extensions (with hacks for Google Chrome hopefully along the way).
Unless Google desired to inspire frustration among its geek community (at least overseas), they probably would not kill off Orkut unless the companies financial existence was seriously threatened with extinction.
Even though Google may decide to cut even more services in the future (like Google Knol which is Google's version of Wikipedia) I do not see the search engine giant killing off Orkut--at least in the near future.