Despite a reported decrease in user activity, developers have high hopes for Google+, which launched in June and gathered 20 million users in less than three weeks. At their most optimistic, the social network’s fans view it as a serious threat to Facebook, while others point to the now-defunct Wave and almost-defunct Buzz as examples of Google’s inability to fully grasp the social media landscape.

Regardless, last week, the service made the long-awaited decision to release its first API, opening the network up to outside developers and thereby increasing its reach. Limited in scope - this first batch only allows apps access to already-public information - the API is said to be the first in a series, and the company has high hopes for forming collaborative relationships with the best app designers in the tech scene. In a blog post making the announcement, Chris Chabot of Google+ Developer Relations optimistically said, “For all of you developers who have been asking for a Google+ API, this is the start. Experiment with it. Build apps on it. Give us your feedback and ideas. This is just the beginning; the Google+ platform will grow and we value your input as we move Google+ forward.”

The maneuver, the spirit of which is now standard for burgeoning social networks, and the attention it has gathered are suggestive of a new approach to app development, as highlighted by Appcelerator and IDC’s Q3 Mobile Developer Report. The report, which is based on a July survey of 2,012 developers, argues that “Apple and Google are accelerating their lead in mobile by redefining mobile app engagement, loyalty, and cloud connectivity through their new Google+ and iCloud offerings.” Though iOS and Android remain nearly neck-and-neck in terms of attention directed at platform development, Google+ is expected by developers to most impact mobile growth and adoption, garnering 25-percent of the vote, in large part because social capabilities encourage repeat usage.

The implications of the excitement concern, in large part, a shifting app building landscape. Appcelerator and IDC found the number of developers who prefer the app store business model for monetization is decreasing, while in-app purchasing has increased. As Google and Apple enter the cloud business, leveraging their assets to form a powerful social graph, forward progress for the brands is hastened by their stranglehold on the platform business. Collectively, the resultant engagement and redefinition is expected to strengthen the standing of the brands as a whole, an indication that the claims by early supporters that Google+ benefits from its attachment to services they already use - namely Gmail - may be coming to fruition.

More importantly, as the two brands continue to harness social engagement, connectivity and loyalty are expected to spread, though the success of the newly-born Google+ is still up for debate. Should the API release successfully embrace this transforming app landscape, Android and Google’s future on the whole looks to benefit. As suggested in the report, “From customer acquisition/awareness to engagement, to monetization to loyalty, mobile leaders are focusing on leveraging their ubiquitous adoption levels into new areas that, in the end, significantly enlarge the overall value that’s possible on each of their platforms in the post-PC era.”

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