Facebook's disappointing new 'App Center'
On its face, the new feature sounds like a great idea. But too often, it sends users to other companies' links.
Facebook is receiving a ton of press for its apparent effort to take on Apple (AAPL) and Android in the battle for app dominance. But while other app marketplaces offer tangible goods, the Facebook App Center is inundated with external links and ad-filled freebies.
Let's start with the biggest and most popular games. Facebook (FB) users who scroll through the list of apps will instantly notice that "Angry Birds Friends" is available -- and playable. Of course, Angry Birds is already available online, so this isn't too surprising. The ads aren't overly intrusive; users will see a banner at the bottom of the page. Those who scroll down will see links to the iPhone, iPad and Android versions of the game, as well as links to purchase stuffed animals and other Angry Birds-themed toys.
But let's say you want to play "DragonVale." Users might assume that they can jump into the game and start playing now, right on their desktop. Nope. Instead, there's a "send to mobile" button that will allow you to play the game on an iPhone or iPad. The same goes for "Infinity Blade II."
Those who wish to take advantage of the Bing app from Microsoft (MSFT) will be disappointed to learn that it is nothing more than an external link to Bing.com. Same goes for Yelp (YELP), Hulu, foursquare, Chill, and Netflix (NFLX). (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)
That's right -- instead of having a unique or exciting way to view the content you are already accessing every day, Facebook opened a new app center to provide consumers with a link.
Facebook doesn't show you the difference between links and actual apps/games, so users are forced to click on each to find out which apps are truly available.
If there's one thing I like about the App Center, it's the promise of quick-and-easy freebie gaming. But almost every game currently available in the App Center has appeared elsewhere in some shape or form. "Jetpack Joyride" (arguably the best of the bunch) reminds players of this fact with a large ad that encourages users to download the iPad or iPhone version from the App Store. When you die, the game screen is replaced by another ad for the iPhone/iPad version.
So let me get this straight: Facebook opened an App Center to direct users to other websites and to further promote Apple's own App Store? Umm, what!?
This is the most counterproductive creation I've seen all year.
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Excitement is growing about the company's new iPhone, expected this fall.
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