Google+ Google

Social phenomenon Google+ (or Google Plus) now has over 20 million users, according to comScore, but it will be a while before businesses hop on board.

Earlier this month, Google+ had to pull the plug on Business Profiles as the pages of the social networking service were not optimized for businesses.

According to Christian Oestlien, Google+'s product manager, Google+ is currently "focused on optimizing for the consumer experience". However, "we have a great team of engineers building a similarly optimized business experience for Google+," he said.

Google has started a pilot run for Business Profiles by opening an "Entity Profile" application, which saw a flood-rush of companies, nonprofits, bands and other entities that wanted a piece of action in the fledgling social network.

However, Google isn't apparently prepared for the overwhelming response.

"With so many qualified candidates expressing intense interest in business profiles, we've been thinking hard about how to handle this process. Your enthusiasm obligates us to do more to get businesses involved in Google+ in the right way, and we have to do it faster. As a result, we have refocused a few priorities and we expect to have an initial version of businesses profiles up and running for EVERYONE in the next few months. There may be a tiny handful business profiles that will remain in the meantime solely for the purpose of testing how businesses interact with consumers," Oestlien said in a blog post.

"Doing it right is worth the wait. We will continue to disable business profiles using regular profiles. We recommend you find a real person who is willing to represent your organization on Google+ using a real profile as him-or-herself," he said.

Meanwhile, Google+ will select a limited number of business partners for a test period, he added.

And, Google+ has already begun acting tough. For instance, the profiles of the blog Search Engine Land, as well as Ford and Sesame Street, were all deleted. Some, like the blog Mashable, escaped the axe because it was transferred in the name of the site's CEO, Pete Cashmore. The page already has over 109,000 followers.

Google's move has left many businesses bitter and Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Land, didn't hesitate to say that it smacks of favoritism.

"I know you have great plans to have super wonderful business profiles eventually. But if you're going to only let a "tiny" number of businesses operate before that, then you taint them and yourselves with favoritism," Sullivan wrote on an open letter.

"Don't try to put the genie back in the bottle. Restore the business profiles you have closed. Drop the rule you silently added that blocks business profiles. Let businesses use profiles here just as regular people do. Works just fine on Twitter. Then upgrade those accounts when you're ready.

"If you're really into doing things right, that's what you should do. Otherwise, you're just further doing it wrong," Sullivan wrote.

According to Andrew Lipsman, vice president of industry analysis at comScore, Google has witnessed a great start with Google+ but it will need to work hard to keep people active and engaged on the network.

In other words, Google+ needs to be business-ready very quickly or it will risk losing having big businesses as its users.

Chris Murphy of InformationWeek has an interesting take on Google+.

According to Murphy, Google "thinks of the consumer first--and probably second and third. The enterprise/business market is a tag-along business, and you will not get the goodies first."

Murphy said, "This is a logical strategic decision -- advertising is 97% of Google's business, "other" (which includes enterprise customer licensing) is 3%, or a slightly north of $1 billion-per-year business. But you also get the sense at times like these that the consumer focus is simply part of Google's DNA."

However, Murphy added, "Google isn't indifferent to the needs of business."

"Google's consumer-first approach can indeed produce creative products for business use. Just go in knowing where you stand in Google's line," he said.

Meanwhile, Vic Gundotra, Google's vice president of engineering who is overseeing Google+, has acknowledged the lapse, saying "We should have anticipated brands and people who want a following would be very frustrated when we didn't have proper profile support."

"This is my fault...We prioritized making a great experience for people first. None of our internal models showed this level of growth. We were caught flat-footed," Gundotra said.

The Google+ team, he added, is doing everything "to accelerate the work to properly handle this case."

Is Google guilty of favoritism? Does it care about businesses? Leave your comments below.