How there's still room for a Facebook app store

If Facebook gets its recommendation engine right, it could become a powerful tool for getting apps in the hands of its users.

Facebook's App Center.

Are there too many app stores out there? Surprisingly, maybe not.

Facebook is the latest entrant into the increasingly crowded world of app stores with its App Center, which got its formal debut Thursday.

My initial reaction: another app store? Really?

Our lives are already inundated with several app stores. Of course, there's Apple's App Store and iTunes, and Google Play on Android. Microsoft has an app store for Windows and Windows Phone. The carriers offer their own stores, as do handset manufacturers such as Research In Motion (BlackBerry App World) and the Nokia Store.

But the more I heard about it, the more promise I saw with Facebook. The App Center currently is a place for social apps, and despite being accessible via Android and iOS, appears to be mainly a desktop resource.

Most interestingly is how Facebook plans to tackle the issue of discovery. Few app stores, even Apple's behemoth App Store, have really tackled the problem of getting people to the right apps. It's an issue I've written about many times.

Facebook's killer app (so to speak) could be the recommendation engine that's designed to offer you apps you may like based on your behavior, say for example, word games or "Farmville." For now, Facebook is relying on a mix of algorithms and humans to decide which apps to feature, but eventually, every person will get her or his own personalized App Center with custom recommendations.

That could be a powerful incentive for developers, especially ones that fear getting lost in the shuffle at other app stores, which typically display the most popular or best-selling apps. Of course, there's a difference between the apps found in Google Play and the ones on Facebook, but it's something for developers to consider.

Facebook, a newly public company, wants to find new ways of generating revenue. The App Center is a good way of garnering developer support.

Of course, having a base of more than half a billion daily users doesn't hurt either.

 

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