Facebook finally unveiled its long-awaited effort to help mobile developers market their native and HTML5-based apps through its platform today. iOS developers will get to take advantage of bookmarks, requests and the news feed in the same way that Facebook canvas developers do.
The interesting parts of today’s launch are:
Facebook is playing nice with Apple on viral distribution for native iOS apps, not just HTML5-based ones: If a developer wants to distribute a native application, Facebook’s notifications will send prospective users to the iTunes app store.
So Facebook is not pressuring developers to build HTML5 apps in order to use its viral channels. This is a big deal because the HTML5-requirement was perceived as a hurdle for adoption of Facebook’s mobile platform. Both indie and mid-size developers have difficulty splitting their resources between building natively and on HTML5. Furthermore, there’s still a noticeable performance disparity between native and HTML5 applications — especially with games, which are the largest revenue driver on both platforms. It’s unclear if Facebook will get affiliate revenue for the downloads it drives of paid apps.
Parallel viral channels on Android will be coming soon. There’s no official date though.
Facebook Credits have arrived for mobile web apps (as was widely anticipated): HTML5 developers that want to use Credits as their payment mechanism must use it exclusively. Native iOS apps have to use Apple’s payment system, however. This split in payments between web-based and native apps is expected given that Apple is unlikely to give up revenue from in-app payments and paid downloads.
For more analysis and a rundown of key viral channels for developers, continue reading on Inside Mobile Apps