Slideshow: Top 15 Google Apps ForBusiness
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Maybe the reason Google has struggled to succeed in social media is that it keeps snubbing some of its most loyal fans.
The introduction of Google+ has revived interest in Google's ability to become a player in social media, with granular control over different circles of contacts that might even make it useful for business collaboration--if only the company's product planners would stop working at cross purposes. Google+ is only the latest service to snub the users of Google Apps, the online service for businesses that allows them to use their business domain with Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and other Web applications. Google Apps is the company's core cloud computing offering to small businesses, large enterprises, and universities, many of which use it to support student email accounts.
Even before Google stopped issuing new invitations for Google+, Google Apps users who tried to sign up were confronted with an error message ("Oops!") informing them that Google+ requires a Google Profile. Google Apps users, some of them paying customers, get the same brush off if they try to use the +1 button Google introduced earlier this year.
Google Profiles are a prerequisite for any of these social features, but they have yet to be enabled for Google Apps accounts. Google Buzz, last year's supposed Facebook-killer, had the same issue. When Buzz was announced in February 2010, Google promised to have it working with Google Apps accounts "within a few months".
Buzz turned out to be a misfire, but a similar promise followed in a March 30, 2011 post on the Official Google Enterprise Blog: "Coming soon to Google Apps: +1 button and Google Profiles."
By now, Google Apps users can be forgiven for wondering what "soon" means in Google's book. Some of the chronology presented here comes from the blog of Brad Wells, an electrical engineering student at Florida State University, who has chronicled the string of broken promises and recent hints that soon might really be coming soon.
"I do think it's weird that their most loyal users getting locked out of all their best applications," said longtime tech blogger Kent Newsome, who also has been ranting about the snub to the users who have made the greatest commitment to Google's cloud apps. In an interview, Newsome said he understands why Google has to be more careful with the features it offers to business users, but he still finds the delay frustrating.
"I think the reason Google is being so careful about this is they've been promoting Google Apps to the enterprise, which means they have to be super, super careful with access and security and not roll anything out before they can secure it," Newsome said. "It just makes me mad because I love Google, love Google Apps, and want to use Plus."