Google continued its steady rollout of new features on Google+ on Monday with the official launch of Google+ Pages for brands and businesses.
"So far Google+ has focused on connecting people with other people. But we want to make sure you can build relationships with all the things you care about—from local businesses to global brands—so today we’re rolling out Google+ Pages worldwide... For businesses and brands, Google+ pages help you connect with the customers and fans who love you. Not only can they recommend you with a +1, or add you to a circle to listen long-term. They can actually spend time with your team, face-to-face-to-face. All you need to do is start sharing, and you'll soon find the super fans and loyal customers that want to say hello."
Google has a bunch of guinea pigs that have already built pages (including Google+ itself, fittingly). Here's a selection of some of the pages that are already live:
- Anderson Cooper 360
- Angry Birds
- Dallas Cowboys
- Fox News
- Good Morning America
- The Muppets
- Phoenix Suns
- Save the Children
Oddly, while Google announced Google+ Pages on Monday, it didn't open it up for everyone to start building pages. Instead, it simply stated that "any organization will soon be able to join the community at plus.google.com/pages/create."
Here's Google's one-minute video intro to the new feature:
Despite the fact that Google+ Pages aren't available for everyone yet, this is a good move -- and I expect that Pages will open up to the public within the next week or so, if Google's usual patterns prevail. We could argue that Pages are long overdue. When Google+ first launched, a lot of brands created faux user accounts that were basically company accounts, until Google shut them down and told people to hang on until it launched brand pages.
So far, the implementation of Google+ Pages looks solid, although very simple. A Page is basically a subset of the standard Google+ account for users. One of the most interesting things Google is doing with Pages is called "Direct Connect," which will allow you to directly add a brand to your Google+ Circles from Google search results. This will be highly convenient, but could raise monopoly concerns. Would Google offer Twitter and Facebook the same opportunity to directly follow or make a friend request from Google search? It's doubtful. Remember, it's not actually illegal to have a monopoly in the U.S., it's only illegal to use a monopoly unfairly against your competitors.
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.