From the Front Lines: Developers Voice Initial Concerns About App Verification Program

Roughly a day has passed since Facebook announced the details of their new Application Verification program, and it’s no surprise that several strong opinions have already been voiced in the Developer’s Forums. Here’s how most concerned developers are voicing thie cost vs. benefit.

The Costs

To most developers, the $375 verification fee is daunting. That’s certainly a large fee for any small to medium sized developer with limited income.

And while it may seem like a large fee, it could be more easily justified if it were only a one-time fee. After all, assuming it takes an hour to verify one application, the man hours could add up quickly on Facebook’s end – especially when you consider there are about 48,000 Facebook applications out there right now.

However the one-time fee is just a pipe-dream for now. As cited in the official documentation:

Verification will expire at the end of twelve months, and your application will need to be re-reviewed to maintain verified status. We will reach out to you at the end of your verification time period to remind you. At that point you will need to submit another verification fee, and the verification process will repeat.

This recurring $375 annual fee will be the deciding factor for many developers. This exclusivity is surely somewhat intentional, however. With fewer verified applications, verified apps will stand out much more.

The Benefits

The official word is that verified applications will have access to larger communication channel limits, a special application badge as seen above, and greater exposure within the News Feed, all to be rolled out in waves starting in early 2009. Another benefit which has not been mentioned widely is the $100 towards advertising credit. Is this really that significant? Several developers in the forums have also expressed concern over the potential for verified applications to become “favored” with respect to the Terms of Service.

Whatever life is like for unverified apps, verified apps are sure to see an increase in users. Just how much exactly is yet to be seen, as Facebook still has an important role to fulfill: educating the public about verification. If an average user does not believe there is substantial difference between verified and unverified apps, then developers are likely to be paying strictly to improve their brand in the app directory.

Conclusions

There is still a lot to be seen about the program. If you are looking for advice on whether to apply for verification or not, the most important thing is to consider is how much of a difference it will make for your target user base. If a user cannot distinguish between your application and a verified one, hundreds of successful applications and companies have already proven that you can become successful and profitable without verification.

It will also be important to see how many apps get verified. If only a small number do, then an average user is likely to use that “awesome new application” regardless of how unsafe or useless it may be.

In the coming months, the success of the program will ultimately depend on how well Facebook can impress users with the notion that unverified applications are less safe or useful than verified ones, and consequently, on how strongly users respond to this new idea.