Facebook launched its App Center---a hybrid store and showcase---that allows developers to sell their wares. But following the money from the Facebook App Center may be a bit tricky.
The social network is obviously interested in driving activity to its site---and HTML5 as an agnostic platform. But the real carrot may be Facebook's move to allow paid apps in its market.
If you're a developer---business, SMB or hobbyist---Facebook promotion could be a boon. Facebook will take the usual 30 percent revenue split and enable in-app purchases.
It's a bonanza right?
Not quite. Here are three reasons why the money trail is a bit hard to follow for developers.
- Facebook will point out to Android and iOS stores. In this model, Facebook will merely surface social apps and then aim them at their marketplaces. To figure out your Facebook app returns you'd have to follow the clicks to see if the social network converted a sale for you.
- It's unclear whether Facebook paid apps will fly. Facebook is untested as an app store. For Facebook, making money from apps barely registers as a concern. Developers, however, want to make some dough. If paid apps don't fly on Facebook, the social network will get returns from increased activity. Unfortunately for developers, Facebook popularity may not pay the bills.
- HTML5 apps are the rule of the day. Facebook's paid apps will be HTML5. For developers, focused on native apps---iOS, Android etc.---HTML5 apps may be more work and labor in the short term. In the long run, developers may control more of their own destiny away from Apple and Google marketplaces. Good luck measuring the returns on that move.
In business technology parlance, the returns on Facebook's App Center are soft---squishy even. It won't be easy to follow the money, but developers will go for it anyway. The returns on Facebook's App Center may be tricky, but it's hard to turn down the lottery ticket that may come with exposure to more than 900 million active users.