SAN FRANCISCO Google Inc will shut down its early social-networking service, Orkut, which was launched ten years ago but has failed to put Google ahead in what has become one of the Web's most popular businesses.
Google said it will shut down Orkut, which is widely used in Brazil and India but hasn't caught on more broadly, on Sept. 30, to focus on its other social networking initiatives.
The company declined to say how many users Orkut has.
"Over the past decade, YouTube, Blogger and Google+ have taken off, with communities springing up in every corner of the world. Because the growth of these communities has outpaced Orkut's growth, we've decided to bid Orkut farewell," Google said in a post on the Orkut blog on Monday.
Orkut was launched early in 2004, the same year that Facebook Inc, now the world's No.1 social network with 1.28 billion users, was founded.
The service's shutdown comes as Google's social networking plans remain in question. In April, Vic Gundotra, the head of Google's social networking services, left the company.
Gundotra oversaw the 2011 launch of Google+, a social networking service similar to Facebook. Gundotra said in October that 300 million users visit the Google+ web page every month.
Google has increasingly sought to position Google+ less as a social networking "stream" that competes with Facebook, and more as a means of establishing a unified "user identity" system to improve Google's various Web properties. Last year, for example, Google began requiring users of its YouTube site to sign in with their Google+ identity before posting comments about videos.
The company said it would preserve an archive of all Orkut "communities" that will be available from Sept. 30.
"If you don't want your posts or name to be included in the community archive, you can remove Orkut permanently from your Google account," Google said.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)