4. Google launches a social network
Why it didn’t make sense: Ignoring the fact that Google is a software company known for its search engine and other practical online tools, it already took a shot at the social network phenomenon with its Orkut service back in 2004. Even though it had a short head start over Facebook and Twitter, Orkut was never able to gain any traction except for in Brazil. Realising this, Google eventually shifted the entire Orkut endeavour to Brazil in 2008, where it is managed since. The failure with Orkut did not seem to dent the software giant’s enthusiasm, as it would go ahead and launch its Google+ social network in 2011. Facebook, Twitter and MySpace had all sprung up from dedicated companies, yet the multitalented Google would now be taking them half a decade later with its Google+ service.
The result: The one advantage Google had this time around as opposed to Orkut was the popularity of its Gmail service, which allowed for near instantaneous integration with Google+. Combined with word-of-mouth and media exposure, Google+ has grown to host 500 million registered users. While this is nothing like the one billion users Facebook has, it is the same amount as Twitter and significantly more than the 25 million MySpace has. To Google’s credit, its new social network managed to outperform its first attempt at building an online community, namely Orkut with its 33 million user base. While users have not abandoned Facebook en masse to jump aboard Google+, it still managed to do well for itself considering Google’s lack of heritage or experience in social networking.