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Google+ opens up to enterprises and apps

Catching up to Facebook, feature by feature

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As promised at last week’s Web 2.0 Summit, Google has opened its social networking site to enterprises, via integration with Google Apps.

The move will see hundreds of companies pouring onto the social network and setting up business pages. Over the next few days customers of Google Apps for Business or free customers will get access to Google+. Mountain View is also opening up the service to universities that use Apps for Education – from the prestigious Notre Dame to Loughborough University in the UK.

“For those of you who’ve already started using Google+ with a personal Google Account and would prefer to use your Google Apps account, we’re building a migration tool to help you move over,” blogged Google Product Manager Ronald Ho. “With this tool, you won’t have to rebuild your circles, and people who’ve already added you to their circles will automatically be connected to your new profile.”

The tools would be rolled out over the next few weeks. Ho acknowledged that the company had hoped to have these features available sooner, but that they had proved more difficult to integrate than had first been thought. Part of the problem has been the rapid growth of the service, with Google saying it had exceeded all expectations – but then, it would say that.

Google is planning a whole range of communal working tools for the service, and as a first stage has released Creative kit, a basic photo editor. With over three billion photos on the website, in part due to Android phones automatically uploading them, Google is clearly looking for a prettier experience.

For consumers, Google+ now has a visualization tool to see how information spreads on the network, dubbed Ripples. Clicking on a public posting shows the rate of interest in a post, and who the key influencers have been since its creation. Expect marketing people to be firing a lot of discussion test balloons on the site while they try out new ideas and harvest data.

Both Apps users and businesses have expressed displeasure over the delay in this kind of linkage, considering how well Facebook has developed business integration. At last week’s conference, Sergey Brin and Vic Gundotra were asked pointed questions on the topic, and promised action within days – but it’s clear Google still has a lot of catching up to do. ®

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