How will Facebook’s announcement that it is phasing out its app directory in favor of a search-based approach impact users of the social network hunting for apps? Probably not much.
Product manager Carl Sjogreen posted on the Facebook Developers Blog:
Many developers have been confused about what it means to submit to the app directory and frustrated by the length of time it took to get approved. As we have looked into this issue, we found that the app directory drove less than 0.5 percent of all app installs, while a significant number of app installs came as a result of Facebook search. Until now, to be visible in search, you had to submit your app to the app directory.
Today, we are announcing two updates to decouple the search submission from the directory to make it easier for you to get your app into the Facebook search index:
We are removing the app directory (in its current form) since it does not drive a significant amount of traffic to your apps.
We are creating a new, simplified way to get your app into the Facebook search index.
For your app to show up in search (if it’s not already listed and has over 10 monthly active users), simply go to the developer app and click the “submit to search” link in the left sidebar when editing your app.
After clicking the link, we will submit your app to our search index. There is no longer an approval process for getting your app into search. When you make any changes to your app settings, we will automatically update the listing. It can take up to 72 hours for your app to appear in search results. As always, there is no approval process for launching an app on Platform.
We do not expect any noticeable decrease in traffic to your apps as a result of these changes and continue to focus our energy on social channels that deliver meaningful distribution to your apps.
However, as our sister blog Inside Facebook pointed out, the process of de-emphasizing the app directory has been under way for quite some time, as there have been no visible links to it from the homepage for more than one year. In fact, while the page was still active at the time of Inside Facebook’s post Tuesday, the URL now brings up a “page not found” message.
As for the change’s impact on both developers and users, Michael Robellard of American Greetings Interactive had this to say to WebProNews:
If you know exactly what app you are looking for, this works great, otherwise not so well. The old app directory didn’t work well, either, so I am OK with it going away. If the search box is a way that users try to find good meaningful apps to use, then I would love to see it improved, to give more relevant results. If the search box is not used much more than the App Directory was used, then we should try and come up with other ways to connect users to our apps. Ads are OK, but it seems that there should be some sort of directory/store type mechanism, as that has become very effective and popular on mobile platforms and is beginning to show up on desktops (Mac App Store) and in browsers (Chrome App Store).
Readers: Did you ever make use of the Facebook app directory? What other ways have you searched for apps?
(Screen grab from Inside Facebook)