This month, Facebook announced the launch of its App Center, a section of the social networking website where users can discover high-quality apps. The App Center is designed to promote the growth of mobile apps that use Facebook and are built for iOS, Android or the mobile web.
Facebook has drawn up detailed criteria for app developers who want their products listed in the App Center, stating that it will only considering apps that meet these specific style and quality guidelines:
- An app on Facebook.com in a canvas page
- A mobile app built for the web, iOS or Android that uses Facebook Login
- A website that uses Facebook Login and has an immediately logged-in, personalized experience (see App Quality for more info)
- An App for Pages built to manage or enhance other companies’ Facebook Pages
User ratings, feedback and engagement will influence how an app is displayed. Apps that receive good reviews and are considered high quality will be featured prominently, while apps that receive poor ratings or don’t meet Facebook’s guidelines won’t be listed.
Facebook’s App Center is an interesting model because it combines the features of an app showcase — directing users to buy apps from Apple’s App Store and Andriod’s Google Play, as well as supporting free apps that are Facebook-connected, such as Spotify and Pinterest — with the features of a traditional app store — selling users HTML5 mobile apps that aren’t built for a specific platform.
Facebook has approximately 900 million registered members, which opens up a large marketplace for app developers who want to create products for the App Center. It also creates an avenue for Facebook to monetize its mobile presence and benefit from collecting user data without having to rely on advertising.
Rafe Needleman, a mobile app writer from CNET offered this analysis in a blog post last week:
Facebook will take the customary 30% fee for app sales (Microsoft charges less, by the way) and may well make some money from this, but the real win for Facebook isn’t retail sales of apps, it’s getting developers to build apps for the platform-agnostic standard of HTML5 instead of for proprietary operating systems…
The mobile platform that an application runs on is the one that collects the data about users and also the advertising dollars. iOS apps feed into Apple’s system. But HTML5 apps, if sold through Facebook, can bypass the Apple-only advertising and monetization requirements, and shunt user activity data to Facebook instead.
We look forward to seeing how the Facebook App Center will be used by both app developers and mobile users. Will the Facebook app store finally be the answer for distribution and monetization for HTML5 mobile web apps?