Great Apps Is Admission That Lots of What's on Facebook Isn't So Great

Ann All

For me, the most interesting takeaway from press coverage of this week's highly publicized Facebook developer conference is the creation of Great Apps, a program that will stamp applications that are relevant, secure and well-designed with Facebook's seal of approval. It's like a tacit admission of what many of us know: Plenty of what's on Facebook is crap, useful for wasting time but not much else.


(Rest easy, all of you Facebook fanatics itching to call me a hater and point out how my knocks against the site show I am out of touch. It's already been done.)


Don't get me wrong. Great Apps could be, well, great. But it's overdue. Is the idealism of Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives beginning to wane a year after the site opened up its development platform to outsiders? Big surprise, some folks filled the site with annoying, buggy or downright insecure applications. Dow Jones coverage of the event published on CNNMoney.com featured a couple of quotes that struck me as confirmation that Facebook may finally be realizing that you can't always trust the community to produce quality work.


From Zuckerberg:

I'm also the first to admit that we made a lot of mistakes and there's a lot of things we've had to learn, including how to work more closely with our developer community and how to make sure that the applications that are providing the most long-term value are the ones that succeed in the ecosystem.

And from Benjamin Ling, Facebook's director of platform program development:

We took a pretty hands off approach and distribution became pretty overwhelming.

Developers themselves are apparently growing increasingly disenchanted with Facebook because, hey, the site hasn't been able to help them make any money. A long-rumored payment platform was MIA at the conference. Another key Zuckerberg quote, in response to a question about monetizing the site:

It's pretty clear we haven't figured out the optimal way for us to do this yet and we're exploring a number of things.

It's possible that Great Apps may help with monetization. More advertisers might be willing to promote their products on Facebook if it wasn't so filled with crap. As fed up as I sometimes am with Facebook, I should point out that I do think the site has potential, maybe even as a business tool. If there's going to be a category called Great Apps, why not one called Apps for Business?

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jul 30, 2008 9:35 AM Tara Bradeen Tara Bradeen  says:
I think this small publishing company is ahead of the curve www.meettheboss.com/demo.aspTara BradeenDirector, Meet the Boss US Mobile: 646 234 1439www.meettheboss.com/demo.asp Reply
Jul 30, 2008 5:29 PM Marc Lijour Marc Lijour  says:
The argument sounds like there was some kind of warranty on the apps. The good thing about these apps if that you have the choice to stay away (it is not always the case in real life -think of some annoying apps you have to live with at work)!I don't see why you would have to "trust the community to produce quality work", they don't get paid... But there may be among these tens of thousands of apps, a few good ones. There you go, it can produce great software.I agree, we can't wait from Facebook users to produce good apps for us, and for free. On the other hand, it is nice that Facebook open they platform to let guys like you and me try to work on something on a rainy weekend, if we feel like it (no pressure).Did you produce a good app on Facebook? Reply
Jul 30, 2008 7:14 PM Kim Beasley Kim Beasley  says:
Interesting concept to provide an application that will determine if other apps are relevant, secure or well-designed. I believe that this is a good faith effort on the side of Facebook to cut down on needless apps being created.I do use apps on Facebook but I have limited myself to a short list simply because I don't have a lot time to deal with senseless apps. Thanks to Facebook for providing this application. Reply
Jul 31, 2008 10:19 AM ex facebook user ex facebook user  says:
At last an article which acknowledges this!Seriously though, as a facebook social user and someone who has also tried to use it as a business tool, this is good news. I have utilised social bookmarks on our site but get lots more successful link throughs (which let's face it, are the main objective) from the likes of reddit, digg and stumble. I do not get any from facebook despite extensive plugging. This is probably because everyone has tried to switch off all their annoying news feeds and notifications too! Facebook is great at what it was first designed to do, uploading and sharing photos, what a great platform for this, but then in my opinion they lost direction and now I for one have pretty much stopped using it, not only as a business tool but for personal use too. Why? The hundreds of notifications and those never-ending pointless apps... they are just so annoying.This news may also be beneficial to the economy of entire nations. I read an article somwhere that companies in the UK are losing millions because of employees being hooked on using Facebook! Maybe someone can design an application to also ween them off it and get them back to the real world. Reply

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