The launch of Facebook’s new App Center might not sound like a big deal, but it could prove a shrewd move. It demonstrates Facebook’s commitment to the mobile market while challenging other company’s efforts to organize and recommend apps to an ever-growing number of users.
The rollout makes a lot of sense: Facebook says that it directed people to Apple’s App Store 83 million times last month. It also says that in May, seven of the 10 highest-grossing iOS apps and six of the 10 highest-grossing Android apps were integrated with its site. With all these eyeballs, why wouldn’t you want to supply recommendations?
The App Center, which Facebook first announced last month, can be found on its main Web site and is also built into its Android and iOS apps. It offers tailored Web and mobile app suggestions (in my case, for example, it thinks I’d like Words With Friends since it knows I already use Draw Something). It also shows you the top apps that your friends have been playing with.
Initially, the App Center includes just over 600 apps, according to Facebook, which is a drop in the bucket when compared with what’s available through Apple and Google.
Facebook doesn’t currently appear to be selling any of these apps itself. A “send to mobile” feature will let you check out mobile Web apps on your phone, but if you need to download an app you’ll still have to do so through Google Play or Apple’s App Store, Facebook says.
In the future, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Facebook’s recommendations get much better as it takes advantage of the treasure trove of data many of us have built up over years of using the site. The company could also parlay this into recommendations and, subsequently, sales of all sorts of digital items, either by partnering with the likes of Google, Apple, and Amazon or even competing against them in new ways. That would make a lot of sense—and potentially, a lot of money.
Hear more from Google at EmTech 2014.