Yesterday, Facebook announced their new Verified App program. For an app to qualify as to be a Verified App, it must be trustworthy. It must be secure, respectful, and transparent. Oh, and you must also pay $375.
What does the app get for this high price? Apps that get the Verified designation will be given a special badge to place on the application, designation on the application directory, plus a few other bonuses like advertising credits and easier rules on how many notifications, emails and invitations they can send out to users. Even though developers get all of this great stuff, Facebook only expects about 10% of its current 48,000 apps to qualify.
If the users aren’t demanding an application be verified, then the developers shouldn’t bother with the program. If they users don’t care about whether the app is verified, what incentive is there for developers to make their apps verified and pay $375. Given the current state of the economy and online advertising, most people with simple apps can’t afford that kind of price and it would take a long time to make enough money to cover the expense. Unless the developer is a large company, it really isn’t worth it to pay that kind of price. I don’t know any other open platforms that charge such a fee for anything, rather-less to just sport some badge of trust.
Facebook can certainly make some money off of this new program, but I don’t think it is worth it. Because of the large money amount involved in getting this badge, I believe it will alienate more developers than will embrace it. When you have small developers who make applications for fun, they often do it because it is easy and cheap. The less of a barrier to entry there is, the more attractive it becomes to smaller developers. By creating such a program that insinuates that they have an application that isn’t trusted because they don’t have the money to get the Verified App badge, is essentially slapping the smaller developers in the face. Considering how big apps have become to the Facebook social network, snubbing the smaller developers is not a good move by Facebook. Insulting developers with high fees is not the way to make friends or grow the database of applications.
By Facebook turning its back on the smaller developer and basically saying they aren’t big enough to matter, Facebook has shot themselves in the foot. While the idea might give the Facebook users some piece of mind, it shouldn’t come at the expense of the developers. To create a sucessful platform, you must be able to balance the users desire for trust and security while keeping the barrier of entry to developers as low as possible. If Facebook wants true sucess, they must be willing to do everything they can to maintain this balance, but they are already off to a bad start. Hopefully they will see the error in their ways and make the appropriate changes to their program.