Facebook is about to enter a new age, one where not everything on the site will be free.
Facebook is allowing developers to beta test apps for its new App Center, the social networking giant announced Wednesday. The apps must be submitted by May 18, and the developers will have the option of either making them free or to charging users a flat fee to access them.
“In the coming weeks, people will be able to access the App Center on the web and in the iOS and Android Facebook apps. All canvas, mobile and web apps that follow the guidelines can be listed. All developers should start preparing today to make sure their app is included for the launch.”
The apps that be listed in the App Center will be those with high usage and user ratings. If a user needs to installation a mobile app, they will be sent to download the app from the Apple or Google stores.
“For the over 900 million people that use Facebook, the App Center will become the new, central place to find great apps like Draw Something, Pinterest, Spotify, Battle Pirates, Viddy, and Bubble Witch Saga.”
A major boon for Facebook?
So far, Facebook has been the go to place for free game apps, such as the ones listed above. What this move could do is make Facebook a competitor on par with the App Store or Google Play, as Facebook will now not only have its own apps being developed, but it will also be charging for at least some of them.
Why would Facebook need to do this though?
Facebook recently revised its S-1 filing to reflect that it made $1.058 billion in revenue for Q1 2012. While that may seem like an enormous number to most, it was actually down 6% from the previous quarter.
That could partially be a result of a lower role played by game developer Zynga, who last quarter accounted for 15% of Facebook’s revenue, with 11% coming from the 30% in transaction revenue Facebook takes from Zynga for virtual goods and the other 4% coming from advertising from Zynga games.
That number is down from the 19% Zynga brought in the year before, when 12% of revenue came directly from Zynga and the other 7% came from ad revenue.
This diminshed role may explain Facebook’s desire to find other sources of revenue.
Besides, app developers are all excited over Facebook’s recent growth as it heads towards its IPO, so why not capitalize on that?
Visitors to Facebook’s mobile apps and games have nearly tripled in the past two months, from 60 million visitors in late February to over 160 million users in April.
Seven of the top 10 grossing iOS app and six of the top 10 grossing Android apps are already integrated with Facebook’s network, but so far Facebook has not charged a fee to use them.
Facebook investors thought the partnership between Facebook and Zynga was too dependent, and now that the relationship is seeming to dwindle, Facebook is seizing the moment to make its mark in other areas and make up for the lost income.
The only question is now is whether or not users be willing to pay Facebook to use the new apps it will be developing after getting them for free for so long.
(Image source: developers.facebook.com)