Facebook rolling out App Center

Friday, June 8, 2012 - 12:42pm

(CNN) -- Make room, Apple, Google and Amazon. One more major Internet player now has an app store.

The Facebook App Center gives users a one-stop shop for Draw Something, Instagram, Pinterest and hundreds of other apps that run on the social-media mega-site.

In all, the center, which began rolling out Friday to users in the United States, will open with about 600 apps available. And, for the first time, Facebook will be offering paid apps as well as free ones from the center.

The center will be available on the Web and on Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems.

According to Facebook, the center will offer personalized suggestions to users based on their interests and will only include "high-quality apps" based on feedback from people who use them.

When plans for the center were announced last month, Facebook said developers will now be given the option of charging a one-time fee for their apps.

"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," Facebook's Adam Brady wrote.

Many of the apps featured in the App Center are already available on Facebook (although the site expects new ones to spring up). But with the App Center, users will be able to browse for new ones instead of randomly discovering them.

The social-media site said the ratings and targeting will help users spend less time weeding through low-quality apps to find the ones they really want.

Facebook makes about 15% of its money through payments in games and other apps, according to filings when the site went public. Zynga, owner of FarmVille, Draw Something and other successful games, is responsible for the majority of those payments. Facebook takes a 30% cut.

Each app will have a detail page that will be found in Web searches and give potential users information about the app.

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. Having more integrated smartphone and tablet apps could also boost Facebook's mobile presence -- an area in which the company is eager to expand.

As Ars Technica reported, Facebook has been touting the role it already plays in online and mobile app sales, releasing statistics that show it sent users to Apple's App Store 83 million times last month alone.

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