Facebook plans to introduce an app store in the coming weeks that is customized for each of the social network’s 900-million-plus users, similar to how the site’s News Feed displays content according to a person’s closest friends.
“We’re trying to solve that app discovery problem,” said Malorie Lucich, a spokeswoman for Facebook. “For a lot of people, it’s hard to find this stuff.”
Facebook has started taking submissions from developers who want to sell their apps through the network, which could provide a new stream of revenue for the company. Like Apple, Facebook takes a 30 percent cut out of transactions made through its Credits system. Apple has made more than $1.7 billion from selling apps, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Similar to Apple’s App Store, Facebook will not admit every program to its App Center. In the new service’s guidelines document, Facebook says it plans to remove apps “that don’t meet a high quality bar.”
“Success through the App Center is tied to the quality of an app,” Aaron Brady, a Facebook software engineer, said in a statement on the company’s blog. “We use a variety of signals, such as user ratings and engagement, to determine if an app is listed in the App Center.”
Apple’s method for curating apps has been praised for its ability to keep viruses out. It has also been criticized for what some perceive as corporate censorship and for the length of time it takes to get an app approved.
App Store editors at Apple stirred up controversy in 2010 for initially denying an app of satirical political cartoons from Mark Fiore, who won a Pulitzer Prize. A year earlier, the company’s decision to turn down a telephony app from Google prompted an inquiry from the Federal Communications Commission. Recently, Apple seems to have the opposite problem: letting through too many apps that violate its policy.
On the other hand, Google’s Android app store has always been a free-for-all. Apps aren’t vetted by the company, and that has allowed bogus and malicious software to proliferate.
Facebook’s stance is somewhere in between Apple’s and Google’s. For the upcoming App Center, which can be accessed through the social network’s website and mobile apps, not every program will be allowed in. But developers can still build software using Facebook’s tools, and promote their apps themselves or through users’ Facebook News Feeds — whether the programs are approved or not. People can also locate Facebook apps by typing the name into the site’s search box.
The App Center will replace the Apps and Games dashboard where people currently can browse the available tools, Lucich said. Over time, an app’s “quality score” will fluctuate based on its popularity and other factors, she said.