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The Ultimate Guide to the Facebook App Centre and What it means for App Developers, from Kumulos (Backend as a Service)

Last month, Facebook released their app store, to mixed reactions. Most people were unsure how it was supposed to work or what relevance it had when Apple and Google have their own App Stores.
As an app developer, it can be hard to see what this newest addition to the app selling market can actually do for you, which is why Kumulos, the ever faithful mobile backend, has done most of the leg work for you. Here’s our short run down on the essential knowledge you need for interacting with the Facebook App Centre.

First off, what is it exactly?

We mentioned there was some confusion about the App Centre, that came from the fact that it seemed to be trying to be a store and a recommendations website at the same time. At best it looked like good PR and at worst it seemed like an unnecessary barrier between the customer and the app they want to buy.  Taking a closer look, however, and we see that it is actually quite a cleverly designed funnel meant to help Facebook users find new apps and connect with their friends.
It works by recommending apps to Facebook users and then redirecting them to the individual app stores should they decide to buy an app; so in essence it’s more of an app showcase than a store.
Each app is given a user rating from one to five stars and only the highest rated, most popular apps are shown. This is a good way to cut away the dross for a customer without them needing to do it themselves, and for app developers it means that if you have a good app it will be shown to the close to 1 Billion people using Facebook. Only catch is the app must have Facebook integration. No integration, no feature.
It also features apps built on Facebook, and has introduced the ability for Facebook developers to charge for their app instead of relying on micro-transactions or other monetisation methods.

So what’s the difference between integrated apps and the apps built on Facebook?

Apps built on Facebook are web apps that are used within Facebook (e.g. Farmville, BBC news reader).  Integrated apps are things like Spotify, where the actual app is for Android or iOS and runs on those phones, but has Facebook integrated into it so users can login via their Facebook name and others can see what they are listening too etc. The App Centre features both of these kinds of apps, but will redirect when you want to buy an integrated app.

Why did Facebook release it?

Whilst we can’t claim to know the inner workings of Facebook, we can safely say that they did it because it makes good business sense. At over 900 Million users and counting, Facebook has daily access to one of the widest captive audiences in the world. By promoting apps that have Facebook integration, they’re encouraging their users to engage with each other and Facebook on a deeper level, which in turn encourages app developers to develop with Facebook integration. The more apps with integration there are, the more users Facebook can target for specific advertising and make money. The more users there are, the more app developers can expand their customer base and get free advertising, so long as they integrate their app with Facebook’s.
Let’s not forget either, that Facebook is also trying to encourage app developers to develop apps in Facebook, which Facebook will take a cut of all sales.
It’s a win-win situation for both sides of the coin and a smart move from Facebook.

What does it mean for app developers?

Well, it’s early days yet for the App Centre. It’s now drawing close to being 2 months old, but initial reports on user numbers have been positive, up to 150 million people using it with 600 apps available to see. As an app developer, more than anything it represents an opportunity to put your app out into a relatively uncrowded market that has a user rating merit system, so if your app is good you have a better chance of being found and profitable than say on the App Store or Google Play where you’re competing with hundreds of thousands of other apps. It also opens out a massive market for your app to be found on. 900 million potential customers is nothing to sniff at no matter what business you’re part of, and as many app developers are small businesses that can’t afford massive marketing campaigns, the App Centre may just be your ticket to being found.

To close this article, just in case you’re not convinced, Facebook’s numbers are looking very promising for the App Centre. They have reported that aside from attracting a good 8th of their massive user base in a month and a half, users are also much more likely to return to a downloaded app if they found it through the App Centre. The quoted number is 35% more likely than the average user to return to the app the next day, and 17% more likely during the next week and that some social apps are receiving, “thousands of additional mobile installs every day”.
Sounds good to us if we do say so ourselves.
If you’re interested in building an app for Facebook and need some help, whether it’s simple tech questions or whether you need a fully furnished mobile database for your iOS or Android app, why not sign up for free and see what Kumulos (Backend as a Service) can do for you today?

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