There is a definite need for a social sharing and discussion tool that is unlimited by 140 characters. Among the existing social tools G+ has the potential but in its current form it lacks an essential factor.
Let me start with where G+ fits between twitter and blogs.
I see G+ as a social scratchpad, where I can capture and discuss thoughts doing rounds in my mind. Since these thoughts are not yet well formed, I can't capture them within 140 characters. Because these are just random rants on many random topics, I don't want them on my blog.
Another scenario is longer replies to blog posts. Grand daddy of blogging, Dave Winer, believes that comments spoil the voice of the blogger. He encourages (in someway even forces) readers to write their comments as a post in their own blogs. But I don't want to pollute my blog(s) with replies to posts that I find interesting across the web. A social scratchpad would be the place for it.
Even though it is a scratchpad, I still want to engage others on those random thoughts, because learning happens through those serendipitous interactions. In a blog based commenting system, I am forced to moderate because of spam. Existing moderation system discourages conversation.
Social media sites, on the other hand, promote engagement. They encourage informal conversations, much like real life. By already being a member of the tribe - called circles in G+, I can initiate conversation with anyone. I can also ignore any such initiated replies and comments, if I don't perceive any value.
Another peripheral benefit that G+ brings is the aggregation of comments made within G+. I leave comments all over the place and there is no single place to aggregate the conversation. Engage.io is just for twitter and it doesn't add any value better than twitter clients like [echofon].
When all these work together, a spark might be generated in twitter, carried over to G+ and if it develops further there may be a blog post. So the flow of creation might be:
twitter -> g+ -> blog
While G+ does well in all of the above, it fails in a crucial aspect - getting onto G+ is expensive.
Despite the resources at hand, Google is not able to bring a mobile application that makes it easy to get onto G+. On top of it, there is no 'create' API. If there is one essential factor behind the explosive growth of Twitter & Facebook, it is their API, which enabled integration with every application that is found in mobile. But Google has been adamant in not making a public 'create' API.
If Google wants its G+ platform to surpass existing social media sites, it should open it through a 'create' API, as early as possible.
Will Google listen?
seems to have gone out of business already ↩
GPlus API is just a read API ↩