Facebook launches App Center to drive mobile discovery

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Facebook unveiled App Center, a new hub designed to spotlight the most compelling social applications.

Facebook's App Center spotlights social apps.

Accessible via the Web as well as Facebook's native applications for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, App Center directly connects an app's availability in the storefront to its overall quality. Writing on the Facebook Developers Blog, engineer Aaron Brady explains the social network leverage a series of signals like user ratings and engagement to determine if an app is listed.

"Well-designed apps that people enjoy will be prominently displayed," Brady states. "Apps that receive poor user ratings or don't meet the quality guidelines won't be listed." Facebook also is introducing a new app ratings system metric to help developers understand how users rate their app over time.

All applications featured in App Center will include a detail page to help users identify what makes it unique, complete with consumer rankings based on a five-star system. The page will double as the new destination when non-users search for the app on Facebook. If an app requires installation on a mobile device, App Center will transport the user to Apple's App Store or the Google Play storefront.

App Center will support both in-app purchases as well as premium installs. Facebook awards developers 70 percent of all Facebook Credits spent on their apps.

Earlier this year, Facebook said it will work with carriers across the globe to introduce streamlined billing practices enabling users to charge HTML5-based mobile Web application transactions to their monthly wireless bill. Facebook is working with Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T (NYSE:T), T-Mobile USA, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica, Vodafone, KDDI and Softbank Mobile to offer automated billing across all mobile Web apps that integrate the Pay Dialog prompt, which initiates Facebook Credits orders. Facebook will roll out an SDK for mobile developers looking to incorporate Pay Dialog into their apps.

Facebook now boasts more than 901 million users worldwide--up 33 percent from 680 million a year ago--according to financial data released in April. In addition, 488 million users now access Facebook via mobile device each month. App Center heralds the company's latest attempt to monetize its mobile audience in advance of its imminent IPO, which is expected to raise as much as $11.8 billion.

"Mobile is a key area of growth for Facebook," said COO Sheryl Sandberg in a recently road show video screened for potential investors. CFO David Ebersman added that Facebook plans to invest heavily in mobile, even if its moves have a negative impact on the company's operating margins. "While we aspire for Facebook to be a high-margin business over the long run, we won't hesitate to make additional incremental investments needed to drive user engagement," Ebersman said. "Mobile is a good example of this investment approach."

For more:
- read this Facebook Developers Blog post

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