Facebook announces App Centre plans
Facebook has announced a new app showcase called the App Center, which enables users to find social apps for multiple platforms, including web. iOS and Android and allows users to search for new apps and download them.
The important thing to note however is it will specifically feature social apps which are powered by Facebook Connect. Within the announcement of an app centre that not competing with, but directly sending traffic to its competitors – it sheds some light on what further growth could be seen within app market and smartphone adoption.
Facebook have pointed out that app discovery is one of the hardest thing to gain when bringing a new app to market, not surprising when there are hundreds of thousands available on each platform. The way that it will work with Facebook is by leveraging an apps users social data, the App Centre will offer more personalised app recommendations which could boost download metrics and improve user experience.
Facebook aim to drive downloads for all free apps using Facebook Connect software, this way they can not only gather additional data related to these apps, but also monetize those users by using targeted ads based on social data.
One of the most unique aspects of the App Centre will be allowing developers to sell apps directly to Facebook users, taking a 30% cut of any apps developed specifically for Facebook. Success will come from creating a quality app, Facebook say that ‘We use a variety of signals, such as user ratings and engagement, to determine if an app is listed in the App Centre. To help developers monitor user feedback we are also introducing a new app ratings metric in Insights to report how users rate your app over time. Well-designed apps that people enjoy will be prominently displayed. Apps that receive poor user ratings or don’t meet the quality guidelines won’t be listed. Each app will have star ratings gathered from users, and Facebook will also be collecting data on how often users come back to the app and how long they stay on it. Those scores will be combined to determine an application’s overall quality.
The scoring data will also be viewable by app developers, who can then use the information to tweak and perfect their creations.
App developers are today being asked to go to Facebook and create an “app detail” page with descriptions and screenshots, just like they’d do for Google Play or the iTunes App Store. Creating these pages is a requirement for being listed in the App Center.
App distribution and helping developers grow their apps has been a big concern for Facebook lately. The company has been highlighting Timeline-based growth for lifestyle, video and media apps over the past several months. For apps such as Goodreads, that Facebook-linked growth has been truly phenomenal and has earned its own nickname: the Facebook Timeline Bump!
Basically, as we’re sure Facebook would eagerly point out, when you have a captive audience of one billion people, distribution opportunities are through the roof. And as Facebook mobile web guru James Pearce told us in a recent meeting at Facebook HQ, the company is keen to become a top distribution destination for developers, especially for mobile web applications.
Facebook tells us it is not competing directly with Apple or Google. The App Center will send traffic to both the iOS and Android platforms. If, for example, you’re browsing Facebook’s App Center on your Android and you click a link for a plant/zombie game, you’ll be taken to that app’s Google Play page to install it.
So what does Facebook get out of the deal?
In following the money, you see quickly that Facebook has an advantage in terms of numbers. Being a platform-neutral party, it can distribute any kinds of apps on any kinds of devices. And it has the Mechanical Turk-style combination of human intelligence (in the form of star ratings) and machine intelligence (in the form of app performance and usage data) to render better scores of quality than just about any other distribution channel.
As a developer, you’d naturally see a lot of opportunity from integrating with Facebook. You might get more users, you might get better data. And eventually, you might see Facebook paid apps and Facebook Credits as a nice path to monetization, as well. And when developers monetize via Credits, Facebook wins to the tune of 30 percent.
Saverio Romeo, an industry analyst from Frost & Sullivan, said the store announcement suggested an aggressive push by Facebook to become a bigger player in mobile.
He said Facebook needed to become "more significant, to attract more ideas and get more experience in the mobile space".
"I think the store is an important element – a community of developers is a fundamental element in the growth we have seen with Apple and Android," he told the BBC.
He also said he believed Facebook could position itself as the first major app store to be platform-agnostic – that is, not tied to a single platform such as iOS or Android.
"The type of applications that the Facebook community can develop can have an incredible open horizon.
"Facebook is ubiquitous – it does not have any preferential routes. The question is the monetisation of all this."
All in all, it is the perfect time now for companies that haven’t yet got involved in app marketing, app software or apps for their users to start thinking about how they could create a great quality app that reflect their brand values. If you can get the quality and engagement from your brand customers then it will be a great marketing tool, especially for viral WOM.
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Sources [Forbes.com, Venture.com, BBC.com]