May 10, 2012
Facebook Launches App Center
Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com
In what could be perceived as a “Hey! Us too!” move, Facebook joins other tech behemoths Amazon, Apple and Google in launching an app store of their very own, offering apps from all platforms and at all price-points.Labeling it as “a place to find social web, desktop, and mobile apps,” Facebook´s App Center wants to bring apps to its 900 million users based on friend recommendations.
"For the over 900 million 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," Facebook's Aaron Brady said in a blog post, explaining the new store.
"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."
Facebook is already urging developers to get their apps ready for consideration. As you may expect, Facebook plans to take a very social and “personalized” approach to discovering apps.
Their move into the App market won´t be a competitive one, however. According to Facebook Spokeswoman Malorie Lucich, the App Center will first recommend apps based on your activity. For instance, if you enjoy playing Farmville, App Center will suggest another game for you to try. Then, once you select the app you like, App Center will then send you to either Apple´s App Store or Google´s Google Play, depending on your smartphone lifestyle.
"We're certainly not looking at it any competitive way,” said Lucich.
Which isn´t to say Facebook will turn down good money where it can get it: The social networking site will allow developers to submit paid Facebook apps, and expects in-app purchases will be a great money making opportunity for developers.
Reminiscent of other app stores, App Center will have a “star-based” rating system. Facebook also promises to give their developers a wealth of information not only about their users but also about their activity with the app. Developers can then look at this data and adjust the app accordingly. All of these things–the rating system and the app data--will work together to determine an app´s overall quality.
According to their blog post announcing App Center, Facebook plans to be sticklers for quality as well. Some of the App Center guidelines include:
• Display Name - Use the exact name of your app, with no extra words or characters. Short & Detailed Descriptions - Describe how your app works and what makes it unique. Be accurate, so people aren't surprised when they start using it. Use standard spelling, grammar and capitalization. Don't include URLs, excessive punctuation, price information, keyword lists or non-standard symbols.
• Icons - Upload attractive, relevant, original icons. Icons should be simple and free of visual clutter (for example, buttons or additional info). Different-sized icons should be similar, with no distortion and pixilation.
• Screenshots - Show off unique and engaging parts of your app, and demonstrate how the app is social. Don't use images that are unrelated, misleading, or dramatically different from what most users experience.
• Images (general) - Don't put calls to action (for example, "Click here" or "Play now") or arrows to Facebook UI elements in your images.
Of course, Facebook is also requiring App Center apps to feature their Single Sign-On login process.
So why mobile, and why now?
According to their IPO documents, Facebook sees mobile technology as one of their weak points. Furthermore, developers would love to get their apps in front of more than 900 million people. If Facebook can be the one to bring these two together, they stand to be even more attractive to investors.
Facebook users should be able to access App Center over the next few weeks.