Test of corporate Google+ accounts scaled back

A planned trial of accounts for organizations is being scaled back, but Google hopes ultimately to launch the Google+ feature for all comers sooner, in a few months.

Ford Motor Company's corporate Google+ site now has a prominent "test account" label.
Ford Motor's corporate Google+ site now has a prominent "test account" label. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

After first accelerating its plans for Google+ corporate accounts, Google said last night it's scaling back immediate tests of the feature.

Google launched Google+ three weeks ago with a focus on individuals, already exceeding 20 million users by one count, but the company now faces demand for accounts that businesses and other organizations can use. Google opened a sign-up sheet for those that wanted to participate in a test and got so many replies that Google Docs couldn't accommodate everyone and the company had to open a second document.

Google, no doubt keenly aware that the dominant social-networking company already has such an offering with Facebook pages, responded. Last week, Google product manager Christian Oestlien said Google was "accelerating our development plans" for Google+ corporate accounts. That meant Google would pick a number of business accounts this week and launch them next week.

In a follow-up Google+ post last night, though, Oestlien backtracked on that point:

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.

In an accompanying YouTube video (see below), Oestlien added, "We've basically decided we can't limit a test period to just a few of the thousands of organizations that applied." Ultimately, though, the corporate accounts will arrive sooner, he said.

In the meantime, Google has resumed its practice of deleting corporate accounts on Google+.

Among the victims were Google+ accounts for Mashable and Sesame Street, Search Engine Land reported.

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Ford Motor's account, though apparently offline for a time yesterday, is back up and running. Beneath the Ford logo, though, is a prominent "test account" label. Apparently it remains in the tiny handful of testers.

Google advises that corporate users now find an individual who can represent the company on Google+ if they want to stay engaged.

Dell Chief Executive Michael Dell has been employing that strategy, hanging out in Google+ video chat rooms and soliciting opinions about whether Google+ hangouts would be good for Dell sales and support.

Updated 3:28 a.m. PT and 10:34 a.m. PT with detail from the YouTube video and to correct Christian Oestlien's name spelling.