Facebook isn’t slowing down as it kicks off its IPO roadshow and has launched a brand new app store featuring apps which utilise its Connect feature. The app store has attracted a lot of coverage and its timing couldn’t better when all eyes are on the company as it prepares to float its shares on the stock market.
While the store is specifically for apps that integrate with Facebook, its aim is not to compete with Apple’s app store or Google Play and in fact once a user selects an app to download they are taken to the relevant store to finalise the transaction.
However there are two reasons why Facebook’s some 900 million users may prefer to select their apps from the new store; firstly the store only stocks apps that work with Facebook’s Connect function which makes interconnectivity a breeze and secondly apps are displayed not only by user rating but also based on the account holder’s interest history which makes the top rated selection much more relevant and personalised. Users can browse apps that are compatible with their device so they only see the apps they can actually use.
The store also offers greater opportunities for developers around pricing and charging for apps. Up to now, apps have generated income through in-app purchasing in games such as Farmville where users pay real cash for virtual goods. Now Facebook will allow developers to charge one-off prices for users to access the app’s features.
One of the benefits to Facebook is that it acts as a giant sandpit for developers to try and test a whole host of features which can add to the Facebook experience without Facebook itself having to change. And as seen recently with the purchase of Instagram, if an app does particularly well and proves popular with users Facebook can pick it up and fully integrate it.
One area this could really benefit is Facebook’s mobile offering which it has openly admitted is a problem area. In a recent statement to potential investers Facebook stated “If users increasingly access Facebook mobile products as a substitute for access through personal computers, and if we are unable to successfully implement monetisation strategies for our mobile users, or if we incur excessive expenses in this effort, our financial performance and ability to grow revenue would be negatively affected.” This was quite a bold and frank admittance given the company’s current position but the fallout could create some very real opportunities for developers to create new features which could fill this void.
The company is clearly looking for improvements in this area and the app store is the perfect place to showcase and test out new ideas at very little initial cost to the company, only shelling out once an app is tried and tested.
In a recent post on Facebook’s developer blog, Aaron Brady said that the app centre is expected to launch ‘in the coming weeks’ and is calling for anyone interested in submitting an app to do so now via its Facebook Developer App.
It also wants to test the notion of paying a flat fee to access app features and is calling for users to sign up for the beta programme.
It’s a creative approach to solving a significant problem and provides developers with the chance to get their app seen but it’s the users who decide which ones they want to see grow into a fully fledged Facebook feature.
Written by Felice Ayling