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Facebook tears wraps off its own app store

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Facebook has continued its quest to keep punters glued to the social network by opening an app store that mimics Apple's iPhone software supermarket.

The move follows the web giant's failure to rake in cash from adverts on mobiles: it's hoped the new App Center will encourage users to stare at the website on their smartphones long enough that they start sucking up ads.

The mobile advertising drought upset investors when the site launched itself onto the stock market last month. This was at least one of the reasons why the company's value is now back to being worth about the same as real-world goods giant Tesco at $57bn.

However, Facebook's long-anticipated store won't compete directly with mobe magnates Apple or Google - instead it will tell punters what their friends are playing and drive them to an app marketplace to install the software. The social network also takes a 30 per cent cut from apps developed solely for the website and sold through Facebook.com.

According to paperwork filed ahead of its initial public offering, Facebook derived 12 per cent of all its revenue last year from online gaming startup Zynga, which makes Words With Friends and other annoying time-wasters for platforms including Facebook and Apple and Android smartphones.

The social network, led by boydroid Mark Zuckerberg, stated on Thursday that users in the US would be the first to get their hands on the app store. It'll be rolled out to the rest of the world over the next few weeks.

Here's the official blurb:

The App Center gives you personalised recommendations, and lets you browse the apps your friends use. It only lists high-quality apps, based on feedback from people who use the app.

In other words, Zuck's notion of "frictionless sharing" takes centre stage on this platform. Apple tried to do something similar with Ping and failed. But then it built that failed social network into iTunes, whereas Facebook's app store will be placed atop its existing platform, which presumably should - with its 900 million users and counting - help it fly.

For those Facebookers wanting to download one of the selected apps onto their mobile, the company has made the App Center available via the Facebook iOS and Android apps, as well as, naturally, Facebook.com.

It added: "You can send apps you find on your computer to your mobile device using the new 'Send to Mobile' feature. If a mobile app requires a download, you’ll be sent to install it from the Apple App Store or Google Play."

Wall Street didn't appear all that excited about the news. Shares in Facebook - which trades as FB on Nasdaq - closed down 1.79 per cent at $26.33 yesterday. ®

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