June 7, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka
Facebook announced today that it is launching App Center, a new app discovery tool that highlights “social apps” – in other words, apps that use Facebook.
The App Center, launching tonight for people in the United States and in the next few weeks elsewhere, is an app store within an app store. Facebook isn’t actually distributing apps, but it does serve as a selective portal that highlights desirable apps and then links to their Google Play listings. (Think of it as similar to AppBrain or AppAware, but only for Facebook-friendly apps.) App Center has categories for games, music, lifestyle, news, and more, showing the top rated and social apps in each.
It’s an interesting strategy for Facebook, but one that’s not surprising. The company has been very proud of its success on attracting mobile users, and it wants to promote other mobile products that have managed to incorporate Facebook. That can mean finding books that your friends like in Goodreads, discover cool links in Pinterest, or finding your friends who are also on Foursquare. There are thousands of apps that use Facebook – 23 percent of most popular apps and 7 percent overall according to AppBrain – that may appear in App Center based on popularity and picks made by Facebook.
Of course, App Center also reflects a negative trend of Facebook dominating the mobile app space. In recent years, an increasing number of app developers have made it so their apps will not function without linking to a Facebook account. Some have been from startups and indie developers, but even big companies like Microsoft and Spotify have apps that require Facebook. All our mobile base are belong to Facebook, and that doesn’t please everyone.
The Facebook App Center will be available in Google Play shortly if you live in the United States. Facebook promises to deliver it to the rest of the world later this week. In the mean time, you can visit the desktop website available here.