Facebook’s “App Certification Fee” Might Be The Cure For iTune’s Recent Woes

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Facebook’s clean(er) interface has been a godsend to social networkers gagging on MySpace’s high-schooly chrome and glitter customization, but there’s still room for fun stuff like IQ tests, games, and lists like “Top 5 TV Stars I Wish Were Real So I Could Hang With Them.”  And the vast majority of these apps have proven to be pretty bulletproof.

But now Facebook wants to assure the robustness of third-party app submissions.  At their Developers subsite, they’re launching a new Application Verification Program, described as “an
optional new program designed to provide applications with a
way to stand out and reassure users that they will provide a
good experience. Verified applications will appear to users
early next year, beginning in an application’s About Page and
the Application Directory.”

Here’s the kicker: anyone who wants to submit their app for verification must first fork over a non-refundable US$375 to cover costs associated with the process.  College students and registered non-profit outfits get a discounted rate of US$175.00.  Once the fee is paid and the app is (hopefully) verified, the coders get a verification badge on their app’s About page, US$100.00 credit towards any advertising on Facebook, and other perks.

This actually kind of makes sense: in the same way that college placement exams charge a fee just to take them (and thereby weed out all but the people who really WANT to be tested), Facebook’s verification fee might encourage coders to say “Is my app REALLY armor-reinforced enough to submit?”

Now, I don’t know if Apple even knows about this plan, much less has their own “you pay, we verify” project in the ol’ pipeline — but maybe they should.  In the last week alone, the Baby Shaker fiasco and CrudeBox/PrudeBox situation has shown the App Store’s app approval process to be flawed at best, and grotesquely inadequate at worst.  Making developers pony up for Apple to put their submissions through the wringer — and making it clear that “pay” does NOT automatically guarantee “play” — the code monkeys will think twice about submitting less than robust apps, especially if nearly four bills will take a big chunk out of Junior’s college fund. 

It may slow the influx of new apps — and may even put a damper on the “garage band” entrepreneurs, but we see this happening at the House of Jobs sooner or later.

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