Google scrambles to accelerate Google+ business profiles

Google+ chief Vic Gundotra says the company "screwed up" by not anticipating the demand

Demand for Google+ business profiles has reached white-hot intensity, prompting Google+ leader Vic Gundotra to acknowledge the company has been caught off guard, but pledging a fix is being fast-tracked.

Google+ is currently designed only for personal profiles, except in the cases of companies hand-selected to participate in a test program for the development of business profiles.

As such, Google has been deleting unapproved Google+ business profiles, prompting a series of critical posts on Thursday from search engine expert Danny Sullivan, editor of the Search Engine Land blog, whose business profile was among those removed from the site.

In a comment to one of Sullivan's posts, Gundotra wrote that Google should have anticipated the frustration among those who want a Google+ business profile. "This is my fault. I prioritized other things first. So when Danny says Google screwed up, he is right," wrote Gundotra, a Google senior vice president of engineering.

"We prioritized making a great experience for people first. None of our internal models showed this level of growth. We were caught flat-footed. This growth is very enticing for people/brands who crave an audience. We are doing all we can to accelerate the work to properly handle this case. Please give us just a little more time," Gundotra added.

In a post Thursday night, Christian Oestlien, a Google+ product manager, wrote that tens of thousands of organizations applied to be in the Google+ business profiles test program, and that Google hopes to allow for the creation of business profiles in the coming months, sooner than originally planned.

"Your enthusiasm obligates us to do more to get businesses involved in Google+ in the right way, and we have to do it faster," Oestlien wrote.

"In the meantime, we ask you not to create a business profile using regular profiles on Google+. The platform at the moment is not built for the business use case, and we want to help you build long-term relationships with your customers. Doing it right is worth the wait," he wrote.

Google will continue to disable business profiles, he wrote, adding that a work-around is to "find a real person who is willing to represent your organization on Google+ using a real profile as him-or-herself."

Google+ is the company's answer to Facebook. Currently in a limited beta test and available by invitation only, Google+ is believed to have between 15 million and 20 million members already, and growing as quickly as Google allows it to.

Although Facebook is by far the world's most popular social network with 750 million members who increasingly spend more and more time on the site, Google is betting that Google+ offers enough improvements to encourage a massive migration of users.

In particular, Google maintains that Google+ has privacy settings and a content sharing mechanism that is easier and more effective than Facebook's, and that people will feel more comfortable sharing and interacting on Google+ than they do on Facebook.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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