In a move that pushes it closer to covering all the bases in social media, Facebook has rolled out its very own App Center.
The center, which will be accessible on the web and in the iOS and Android Facebook apps, would appear to be a clear challenge to the more well-known Apple App Store and Google Play.
But while Facebook's App Center doesn't pose much of a threat Apple's App Store or Google Play online, the evolution of the mobile app offerings -- a totally different entity -- might cause a shift in concentration away from Apple and Google's mobile app stores.
Facebook App Center (Facebook)
As Facebook tried to present their latest offering to its competition in a non-hostile way, the social network said it would redirect users to the App Store or Google Play, if Facebook-compatible apps need to be downloaded directly to the respective devices.
The App Center is designed to grow mobile apps that use Facebook - whether they're on iOS, Android or the mobile web. From the mobile App Center, users can browse apps that are compatible with their device, and if a mobile app requires installation, they will be sent to download the app from the App Store or Google Play, Facebook software engineer Aaron Brady said in a blog post.
Facebook also enters the ring by now offering paid apps -- meaning, users will have pay to install certain apps, like they do in the Apple App Store and Google Play. Facebook has had success in the past with its free apps, like Zynga's FarmVille.
Many developers have been successful with in-app purchases, but to support more types of apps on Facebook.com, we will give developers the option to offer paid apps. This is a simple-to-implement payment feature that lets people pay a flat fee to use an app on Facebook.com, Brady said.
Facebook currently makes about 15 percent of its money through payments in games and other apps, according to CNN.
Facebook App Center (Facebook)
Zynga, owners of FarmVille, Draw Something and other successful games, are responsible for the majority of those payments. Facebook takes a 30 percent cut of the payments.
To make it clear, Facebook's App Center will not pose a direct financial threat to Apple's App Store; however, it will indirectly compete for users' time and budgets.
Facebook has no mentioned whether they will eventually offer Android apps at the Facebook App Center.
In the May 9 announcement, Facebook said that they will use a variety of signals, such as user rating and engagement to determine which apps are added to the app center and which get most prominently displayed.
Well-designed apps that people enjoy will be prominently displayed, Brady wrote. Apps that receive poor user ratings or don't meet the quality guidelines won't be listed.
The memo asked app developers to create an app detail page that will give potential users details about the app and be accessible to Web searches.
While Facebook asked for those submissions to be in by May 18, the date signals that a Facebook App Center debut will take place sometime after then.
The timing of the app center announcement is well played as Facebook's newest feature only adds to the allure of the social network's recent initial public stock offering.
And even though Facebook has not yet found a way to make money on its increasing number of users who access the through mobile devices, Becoming more visible to iPhone and Android users may be a move in that direction, according to some Matt Peckham of Time Magazine.
So far, I see nothing not to thumbs-up here . . . a user-related ranking and inclusion system? A chance to investigate an app before installing it? A way for developers to compete on more level terms with Apple and Google with regard to app pricing? Everything in one central location? App agnosticism when it comes to platform and installation? Peckham wrote in Time.
Sure, it means a little extra work for developers and new challenge metrics for getting an app included as well as made visible, but the end benefits for users, at least on e-paper, seem broadly win-win at this point, he added.