It's about Time
Like many things Facebook, the inspiration comes from elsewhere, mainly Apple's App store and its ability to offer a dedicated hub for users to discover web and mobile applications, albeit the App Centre will focus on those with strong Facebook integration.
Of course, this is not a completely new venture for the Zuckerberg machine. I’m sure you recall that horrendous 'App Directory', complete with its ridiculous category schemes and declining interest that saw it canned earlier last year. This one promises to be different, and the few details we do know seem to justify just that:
-The App Centre will be focusing on quality standards as opposed to objective rankings: Instead of download numbers, the platform will be using customer ratings, session lengths and return visit numbers to control app placement and display
-The homepage for a user of App Centre is personalized, and fed with apps that relate to ones the user engages with, managed by the quality metrics. There will of course be standard trending and category sections as well.
-Developers will need to manually submit their assets so App Centre can populate their applications. No more auto-generate! Hooray!
The move away from Zynga continues
I wrote earlier last month
about how Facebook is moving away from its dependence on monetizing game currency, and the launch of the App centre is the next logical step on that path. A Beta program has launched which allows Developers to charge users a flat fee for apps, which opens the doors for Facebook to get their 30 percent revenue share in other areas, even potentially lowering them for apps that are not games. It's a sneaky revenue move, considering up until now the company only made money through in-app purchases.
They have tried downplaying it, insisting it's 'not a major business push' but I argue it’s a bold move that opens the door to a huge variety of applications that might not want or need an in-app purchase scheme.
The timing of the announcement only confirms my suspicion of how important this is, as Facebook has amended their IPO
to declare that although their DAU's on mobile are steadily rising, the number of ads delivered are not. Facebook has already admitted it has a problem monetizing its mobile services, and it’s not hard to see why: too many ads pushed through its mobile news feed negatively affects user interest, too little and you face angry investors.
Ads are the only real revenue for Facebook's mobile presence, so the announcement of the App Centre alongside these disclosed concerns leads me to believe that although they haven’t worked out a less obtrusive mechanism for ad delivery, the potential windfall for a mobile app centre could offset the imbalance and bring a strong second revenue generator to its mobile front.
Douglas Stewart is a staff writer at iQU. When he is not writing, he devours books, plays an excessive amount of games, and is working on his upcoming fiction novel that (naturally) involves intersections between technology, gaming and society. Follow Douglas @TheGearCog