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Facebook announces App Center to compete with Apple, Google


(CBS News) Facebook announced the App Center Wednesday. The planned applications hub may take a chunk out of Apple and Google's mobile market share.

Full coverage of Facebook at Tech Talk

To be clear, Facebook apps are not the same as Apple or Google apps. Apps developed for an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch need to be approved by Apple before they can be downloaded onto iOS devices.

Just like the current Apps and Games page, Facebook App Center will list apps that can be installed on Facebook. The biggest change, however, is the move to mobile.

While Facebook's App Center doesn't pose much of a threat to Apple's App Store or Google Play online, the move to evolve Facebook's mobile app offerings may sway eyeballs away from Apple and Google's mobile app stores.

Facebook App Center on mobile devices Facebook

That doesn't necessarily mean Facebook will pose as a huge threat to Apple for Google. The social network said it would redirect users to the App Store or Google Play, if Facebook-compatible apps need to be downloaded directly to the respective devices.

"The App Center is designed to grow mobile apps that use Facebook - whether they're on iOS, Android or the mobile web. From the mobile App Center, users can browse apps that are compatible with their device, and if a mobile app requires installation, they will be sent to download the app from the App Store or Google Play," Facebook software engineer Aaron Brady said in a blog post.

Another major change is that Facebook will now let developers offer paid apps - meaning, users will pay to install certain apps. Previously, Facebook apps have had success with in-app purchases. Zynga's FarmVille is a prime example of how app developers have been able to monetize free Facebook apps.

"Many developers have been successful with in-app purchases, but to support more types of apps on, we will give developers the option to offer paid apps. This is a simple-to-implement payment feature that lets people pay a flat fee to use an app on," Brady said.

While Facebook's App Center won't pose a direct  financial threat to Apple's App Store, Facebook apps will indirectly compete for users' time and budgets. It's not clear yet if Facebook will eventually offer Android apps at the Facebook App Center in the same way that Amazon has an app store for Android or continue to re-direct users to Google Play.