Google: Business version of Google+ is coming

IT execs asked to wait for a more business-friendly version of Google+, which Google says could come later this year

Google is telling IT executives to hold on, perhaps until later this year, as it prepares Google+ for the rigors of business.

In blog posts this week, Google officials explained that the new Google+ social network, unveiled just last week, simply isn't yet ready for enterprise use.

"We have been watching Google+ take shape over the last week and we've seen some really great companies get involved," wrote Christian Oestlien, a developer on the Google+ project, in a blog post (registration required).

"But frankly," Oestlien added, "we know our product as it stands is not optimally suited to their needs. In fact, it was kind of an awkward moment for us when we asked Ford [Motor Co.] for his (or was it her?) gender!"

In a video blog post, Oestlien asked companies and organizations to hold off using the consumer version of Google+ for business purposes. He did note, though, that Google will undertake tests with a small group of businesses and brands to see how their users interact with them via the Google+ circles and the news stream functions.

"Right now, we're very much focused on optimizing for the consumer experience," he said. "But we have a great team of engineers building a similarly optimized business experience for Google+. We are very excited about it and hope to roll it out later this year."

Ford, which claims that it loves social media, was quick to jump on the Google+ bandwagon. Now, however, the automaker finds that it will have to back off on its early plans for the social network.

"While we're disappointed that we need to curtail our corporate activity. Ford has a longstanding relationship with Google and we look forward to helping them test out Google+ for businesses," the company wrote in response to a series of comments on its Google+ stream.

"In the meantime, we'll be fanning out here as individuals and engaging with the community. We respect the relationship we have with Google and we will work with them in whatever way they ask of us on Google+," the company added.

In a response to the Ford statement, Oestlien said, "You guys have been amazing. Thank you. We can't wait to work with you to figure out the best way to have great iconic brands like yours deeply involved in Google+."

Ford's specific plans for Google+ aren't clear.

Craig Daitch, a social media manager at Ford, noted in the same comment string that he wants to make sure that Ford has a place in the new Google+ social ecosystem.

"We are engaging with our fans on Google+ and we will continue to do so," he wrote. "Our intent wasn't to break rules or violate terms of service with our profile. We genuinely are excited about the opportunities to build an audience with our fans and customers through a new social network. Our intent is what it always has been at Ford in regards to social media -- constantly test and learn. We would like to utilize all of the features Google+ provides but are staying respectful to Google's requests that we wait for their business profiles."

Ford, which has received both positive and negative responses to its Google+ work, is asking users how they'd like to see the company utilize the new social network.

One person requested that Ford set up a Hangouts session with a car designer. Others sought to get pictures from Ford events or information on the company's plans to update onboard computer and navigation technologies.

Another corporate user, Richard Binhammer, who works on Dell's communications team, said he simply wants some clarification on the Google+ plan for business. "I'd like to know whether Google is enforcing its position about brands or not... so that we at Dell can play by the rules!" Binhammer posted.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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