Facebook (Nasdaq: FB ) is officially stepping into the app discovery ring. The social networker has just launched its App Center in a move to boost its platform and give it more street cred.
The service is all about discovery, as nowadays app stores have exploded with countless offerings that it's hard to wade through the junk and find quality content. That need to sift through app offerings is creating new demand for app discovery services, and even heavyweight Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) has room for improvement there.
Apple's Genius feature has tried to address the intimidation of sorting through the constantly growing collection of apps available in the App Store, but mostly comes up short of pointing users to quality apps. Cupertino recently acquired a small start-up, Chomp, which specializes in discovery.
Facebook's new App Center spans both its desktop Web platform and mobile platforms like iOS and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Android. The mobile side continues to be a monetization Achilles' heel for Facebook, as it certainly won't be taking any type of cut on any social apps you buy through its discovery service. Users will still be redirected to Apple's App Store or Google Play to pay up if they want to make the plunge.
It does tie into Facebook's payment platform though on the Web platform, where you'll find longtime partner in crime Zynga (Nasdaq: ZNGA ) and its various "With Friends" offerings front and center. Facebook certainly takes a cut there, so hopefully mobile users will be tempted to buy the corresponding desktop versions of the apps they play on their smartphones and tablets.
The App Center is less about direct monetization and more about overall moat building, keeping users coming back and plunging more hours into the site and on its mobile app. Hopefully, the monetization will follow eventually.
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