Orkut was quietly launched on January 22, 2004 by Google, the search engine company. Orkut Buyukkokten, a Turkish software engineer, developed it as an independent project while working
at Google (required by its policy). Some discomfort with this exists among users and potential users of orkut, especially since Google's other noteworthy product of 2004, the Web-based email client Gmail, had servers scan emails for keywords in order to deliver advertisements targeted at them, which sparked an idea that Google was "reading your email".
While previously working for Affinity Engines, he had developed a similar system, InCircle, intended for use by university alumni groups. In late June 2004, Affinity Engines filed suit against Google, claiming that Büyükkökten and Google based orkut on inCircle code. The allegation is based on the presence of 9 identical bugs in orkut that also exist in InCircle. Originally, the orkut community was felt to be elite, because its membership is by invitation only. However, at the end of July 2004 orkut surpassed the 1,000,000 member mark, and at the end of September it surpassed the 2,000,000 mark.
While the intended invitation method was e-mail between two acquaintances, invitations to orkut are obtainable via the web with a bit of diligence or eBay, just like Gmail invites.
Orkut's use as a social tool is complex, because various people frequently try to add strangers to their own pool of friends, more often than not just to increase the number indicating their number of friends next to their name in their profile. Many "add-me" communities exist, solely for this purpose. A large number of bogus, cloned, fake, invisible and "orphaned" profiles also exist.
As of September 13, 2006; there are 27,733,124 users on orkut.
Speed and reliability
As of September 2006, orkut often is unavailable, producing a "Bad, bad server. " error message — behavior consistent with that of an underpowered server under heavy load. The outages tend to occur during the day hours in the Americas, home of more than 80% of orkut users.
Orkut was very popular in Iran, but the website is blocked by the government. As they say, this is due to national security issues, as orkut users have the ability to spread messages rapidly, but the government says it's due to Islamic ethical issues about dating and match making. To get around this block, sites such as "orkutproxy.xom" (now defunct) were made for Iranian users. Other websites such as Groups likw Yahoo, Google have communities dedicated to receiving updates on the newest location of Iran's orkut proxy. Though it was once possible to bypass governmental blockage of orkut, the site has closed its HTTPS pages on all anonymous proxies. Now it is almost impossible for ordinary users to visit this site inside Iran.
In August 2006 UAE followed the footsteps of Iran in blocking the site.
Demographics of orkut
Brazil - 64.43%
USA - 13.58%
India - 8.90%
Pakistan - 1.83%
Iran - 1.28%
UK - 0.71%
Japan - 0.55%