Facebook is now in the universal apps business with new App Center

10 May 2012

Social network Facebook – already a potent force in the apps business – has decided to broaden its strategy and is creating an App Center for all platforms and all devices. It has also launched a beta programme for paid apps to be sold via the social network.

Facebook’s Timeline apps and mobile apps platforms have been credited with driving significant amounts of traffic for partners.

But perhaps seeing over the next hill or spotting an opportunity on the horizon Facebook has decided that it wants to be the place that helps people discover the apps they want whether they are using an Android smartphone, an iPad tablet computer or even pretty soon a Windows 8 PC.

Facebook’s Aaron Brady explained in the Facebook developers blog: “The App Center gives developers an additional way to grow their apps and creates opportunities for more types of apps to be successful.

“In the coming weeks, people will be able to access the App Center on the web and in the iOS and Android Facebook apps. All canvas, mobile and web apps that follow the guidelines can be listed. All developers should start preparing today to make sure their app is included for the launch.

“For the over 900m people that use Facebook, the App Center will become the new, central place to find great apps like Draw Something, Pinterest, Spotify, Battle Pirates, Viddy, and Bubble Witch Saga.

“Everything has an app detail page, which helps people see what makes an app unique and lets them install it before going to an app,” Brady explained.

Growing the app developer ecosystem

One of the battles Facebook – like any other platform – has been facing has been encouraging app developers to get creating.

In establishing a broad church there’s method to Facebook’s seeming madness. Creating a universal app store reinforces in developers’ minds the strength of Facebook’s 900m community and if you are peddling an Android or iOS app it would be crazy not to create a Facebook app, too.

To help developers, Facebook has created a sophisticated app ratings metric in Insight to allow them to measure how users rate their apps.

In terms of being able to download the apps to your mobile, the Facebook’s app market will direct mobile users directly to the Apple App Store of Google Play so in effect Facebook is offering Apple and Google an additional shop window rather than trying to steal customers.

To maximise the opportunity, Facebook is urging developers who have apps they want to drive via the new App Centre to create an app detail page. However, not just any app will be accepted and Facebook has a review policy.

“App detail pages that are eligible for the App Center (sic) will be reviewed prior to being listed and priority will be given to those apps that submit before May 18,” Brady explained.

Clearly, Facebook isn’t just doing this for the social good and as a business sees a powerful revenue stream and has developed a successful business already for in-app purchases.

According to Brady, Facebook intends to use the same infrastructure to allow developers to have the option to offer paid apps and directed developers to a new beta programme set up for this purpose.


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years