Why would Facebook want to open an appstore – when it already has one?
At first glance, Facebook doesn’t look like it has an appstore. Facebookers don’t buy applications from a Facebook shop window, with revenue being passed through to Facebook developers. In fact, revenue flow is heading in the other direction. Facebook isn’t paying developers. Developers are paying Facebook. They are paying Facebook for ad space, and increasingly so – check out last month’s talk by indie game developer Karl Bunyan at the London Facebook Developer Garage, for an interesting take on this.
Who pays whom for what is always a fun question – particularly in digital media.
Facebook’s ‘app store’ is a bit unusual. It is highly distributed. It is non-Euclidean. Contents come and go like twinkling Christmas lights. The act of seeing can change what is seen. Behavioural targeting, social targeting and demographic targeting whirr away, magicking around with the topology of the place. But, none the less, Facebook is an appstore. Just… not as we know it. Application developers pay for a stall in the marketplace, in the expectation that the customers they attract will transact with them.
And make no mistake, the customers who are being targeted are Facebook’s customers, not the application developer’s customers. In a truly awesome display of chutzpah, Facebook offers developers a service called connection targeting, described in a recent Inside Facebook article, whose function is to enable paid re-targeting to their own customers.
I wonder if Facebook’s new motto should be “Because we’re worth it”?