Facebook today announced the App Center, a new place to find apps — but not just Facebook apps like FarmVille. The App Center includes both free and paid Facebook apps, as well as HTML5 apps that exist within the Facebook app itself. Android, iOS, and "desktop" apps will also be included as long as they integrate with Facebook. The App Center launches in a few weeks, but developers who want to beta test paid apps can get started today. While Facebook tells VentureBeat that it's not competing directly with Apple and Google (since it will send traffic to iOS and Android apps), the App Center puts Facebook in a great position to build a premium HTML5 app store, something Apple nor Google has built. But for now, "the App Center is designed to grow mobile apps that use Facebook," Facebook said.
The App Center fills a gap Facebook's had in mobile that analysts have complained about ahead of Facebook's imminent IPO. The fact is, Facebook hasn't made much money on the millions of people using its mobile app, and only recently rolled out ads for the mobile News Feed. Facebook also recently purchased Instagram for an estimated one billion dollars — another step towards capitalizing on mobile.
One interesting detail about the App Center is that it won't include Top 25 rankings like Apple's iTunes App Store. Instead, every person will see a different App Center based on what apps they'd be most likely to use. Additionally, "success through the App Center is tied to the quality of an app," Facebook said in a blog post. Each app gets its own "App Detail" page that includes screenshots and reviews, and ratings as you might expect. Apps that get poor ratings from users will no longer be listed. Each app also gets access to new metrics tools from Facebook that let developers see exactly what age groups are using their apps, how long they're using them for, and other valuable data.
While Facebook didn't offer many more details about the structure of the App Center, it has asked developers to get started preparing apps today. On a side note, this isn't the first time Facebook tried out an app catalog, TechCrunch points out. Facebook tried out an app directory a while back, but shut it down a year ago because it drove less than .5 percent of total app installs on Facebook.