How Facebook App Center is aiding iOS, Android app discovery

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Facebook’s new App Center saw 150 million users in July, and referred users 170 million times to Apple’s App Store(s AAPL) and Google’s Play(s GOOG) store in that same month, Facebook(s FB) Product Manager for Apps and Games Matt Wyndowe said at the Game Developers Conference in Cologne, Germany Tuesday,  according to TechCrunch.

The App Center was launched in June as part of Facebook’s attempt to be more relevant to mobile users and help them find apps they like for their smartphones. The app initiative isn’t meant to direct users to Facebook-only apps, but mobile apps in general: It launched with 600, including popular ones like Instagram, GoodReads, and Pinterest. And it’s clear the initiative is working for the social network.

Facebook isn’t directing people to buy or download apps from Apple and Google out of the goodness of its heart, however. The iOS and Android apps that are offered in App Center have Facebook integration — meaning users can sign into them on their phones via Facebook and can share them in their News Feed — which increases Facebook’s own engagement with more users, especially in the mobile realm, an area in which the company has admitted it is struggling.

But this is also great news for users of Apple’s App Store, Google Play and developers. The sheer volume of apps available — 650,000 for iOS, 500,000 for Android — makes a chore out of surfacing quality apps or finding apps to suit individual preferences. There are many new, smaller companies trying to solve this problem by using combinations of curation and search algorithms. But Facebook, by picking and choosing a few hundred apps to offer its enormous mobile audience, is offering another way to sift through the often-times overwhelming selection of apps in those stores.

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This is great for somo (social mobile) apps hooking into Facebook. All the mobile apps in the App Center already have social (Facebook) as a core part of their proposition; that’s part of the FB guidelines.

Facebook App Center therefore, is brilliant for recommending and promoting Facebook relevant social mobile apps (including those your friends have etc). However it doesn’t help with app discovery outside of social mobile apps – which is a shame. (There are developers who’d love to leverage FB to promote their apps, but that for practical reason they can’t use FB Login or single sign on in those apps.)

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