Facebook unveils app store

Not one to let stock-market apathy keep it down, Facebook has introduced an app store that will go head-to-head with Apple, Google, and Amazon.

The Facebook App Center opened its doors to US users Thursday with some 600 available apps, including free and paid offerings. In addition to its home on the Facebook platform, the store will also be accessible via Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems.

“The App Center gives you personalized recommendations, and lets you browse the apps your friends use. It only lists high-quality apps, based on feedback from people who use the app,” according to a company statement.

While many of the apps featured in the store have long resided on Facebook, the store now allows users to browse for new offerings rather than coming across them haphazardly. User ratings will further enable users to weed through higher-quality offerings.

Considering Facebook has committed itself to broadening its mobile offerings — the company earns 15 percent of its revenue from game and app payments — the App Center seems a natural outgrowth of its diversification efforts. So far, Zynga games have provided a significant portion of that income, of which Facebook earns a 30-percent cut.

“As Facebook continues trying to woo potential investors after what’s been a rocky start for its publicly traded stock, the App Center could be a signal that the site plans to compete on one more front with the big-money likes of Apple and Google,” writes CNN’s Doug Gross. “Having more integrated smartphone and tablet apps could also boost Facebook’s mobile presence — an area in which the company is eager to expand.”

Whether new developments like these can turn around the company’s stock remains to be seen. Facebook has closed lower in six of the last seven sessions, and eight of the 12 trading sessions since it debuted on the NASDAQ in May, according to StreetInsider.com. Coupled with a recent survey that shows Facebook users going to the site less frequently, such news indicates the company has plenty of work to do to win over a skeptical public.

Lee Simmons

Lee Simmons is a business writer in Austin. He covers the technology and media industries for Hoover's and offers random musings on the state of entertainment (among other pressing issues) for Bizmology. Follow him at Twitter.

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