Over the next few weeks, Facebook users can expect to see recommendations for apps based on their activity on the social network. It’s good news for developers and Facebook users, but investors still grumbling about Facebook’s lackluster initial public offering last month shouldn’t expect it to be an immediate panacea.
Facebook launched its App Center on Thursday night, showcasing more than 600 apps. While the product is going to be rolled out incrementally to U.S. users during the next few weeks, there were already reports of it being a big boon for developers; GoodReads, for example, told PCMag.com that it has seen 490% growth since the launch.
At least for now, though, the launch is targeted more at promoting Facebook’s platform apps and the 600-plus partner apps in the App Center, and less on generating new sources of revenue. The service, in fact, links out to Google Play and iTunes when a user wants to download an app for mobile, and Facebook won’t see any revenue when users take its recommendation for an app.
"What we're trying to do is bring people to social apps," Doug Purdy, who works on the product development team at Facebook, told PCMag.com. "Our monetization, our revenue strategy for this doesn't change one bit."
Leveraging Facebook’s Data to Compete in the App Space
By and large, apps are still discovered and sold through word-of-mouth marketing campaigns. In its announcement, however, Facebook hinted that it would be doing more than just cataloging all of the apps it made available, which include Pinterest, Draw Something, Nike+, Path and Ghost Recon.
“Success through the App Center is tied to the quality of an app,” Facebook’s Aaron Brady wrote on the company’s developers blog. “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.”
But Facebook also seems intent on using what it knows about you to match you with apps that you’d actually use. The mobile version of the product, which CNET’s Jaymar Cabebe called “significantly pared down,” opens directly to your friends’ social apps. On the Web version, users are greeted with a list of recommended apps, as well as their friends' apps, upon login.
First Step Toward Mobile Monetization?
While developers keep any revenue generated through the Facebook App Center, that will likely change. Indeed, this seems to be one of the biggest steps yet that Facebook has taken to address Wall Street concerns about monetizing its mobile platform.
But Purdy’s comments to PC Magazine suggest the company is still largely fixated on boosting advertising revenues, and that is not likely to sit well with investors and Facebook critics.
“We are largely an advertising company, and we continue to make our money that way," Purdy said. "Now the more applications that people use, that are social, that they share, of course that benefits us. It means that we can sponsor those stories, it means that we're better in our ads and marketing. And that's really what that's about for us."
Image courtesy of Facebook.