Facebook app store announced amid mobile revenue worries

Facebook viewed on a smartphone
Facebook has admitted that growing mobile phone use could hurt future revenue

Facebook has announced its own app store to promote mobile programs that operate using the social network.

The company said the App Center will become the "new, central place to find great apps like Draw Something" and other titles.

Developers will have the ability to charge a fee for apps sold in the store in the near future, Facebook said.

The announcement came as Facebook admitted growth in mobile use could hurt future advertising revenue.

Ahead of its initial public offering, Facebook told potential investors in a statement: "If users increasingly access Facebook mobile products as a substitute for access through personal computers, and if we are unable to successfully implement monetisation strategies for our mobile users, or if we incur excessive expenses in this effort, our financial performance and ability to grow revenue would be negatively affected."

'Start preparing'

The App Center is expected to be rolled out globally in "the coming weeks", said Facebook's Aaron Brady in a post on the network's developer blog .

"All developers should start preparing today to make sure their app is included for the launch," he wrote.

However, Mr Brady said the store was not designed to compete head-on with the likes of Apple's App Store and Google Play.

"The App Center is designed to grow mobile apps that use Facebook - whether they're on iOS, Android or the mobile web," he wrote.

"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."

Screenshot of Facebook App Center
The store will follow the well-oiled app browsing format - and will be available on mobile

Only apps which make use of Facebook's log-in system Connect are eligible to be included in the store.

'Attract more ideas'

Saverio Romeo, an industry analyst from Frost & Sullivan, said the store announcement suggested an aggressive push by Facebook to become a bigger player in mobile.

He said Facebook needed to become "more significant, to attract more ideas and get more experience in the mobile space".

"I think the store is an important element - a community of developers is a fundamental element in the growth we have seen with Apple and Android," he told the BBC.

He also said he believed Facebook could position itself as the first major app store to be platform-agnostic - that is, not tied to a single platform such as iOS or Android.

"The type of applications that the Facebook community can develop can have an incredible open horizon.

"Facebook is ubiquitous - it does not have any preferential routes. The question is the monetisation of all this."