So Much For That Idea. Facebook Has Killed Off Its Great Apps Initiative

Last summer Facebook announced two new programs designed to help surface some of the best applications on Facebook Platform. The first, called Verified Apps, was to help users find applications they could trust — in other words, apps that always stayed true to Facebook’s guidelines, and wouldn’t spam users. Verified Apps finally launched in May after lengthy delays, with around 120 apps in the inaugural class. But the program was only meant to serve as the first stepping stone on the path towards Platform greatness, serving as something of a minor league before the very best apps made it to the Majors.

The second step was a program dubbed “Great Apps”, which was meant to reward the very best applications on Facebook Platform, enticing developers with promises of “greater visibility on Facebook, earlier access to new features, and more feedback from Facebook”. It was going to highlight the true cream of the crop, launching with iLike and Causes as inaugural members with plans to add a dozen or so more applications within the next year. Now, we’ve learned, that isn’t going to happen, as Facebook has killed off the program. Or, rather, it’s combined Great Apps with Verified Apps — the two are now one and the same. The few applications that were members have been notified of their demotion to plain Verified Apps, and nearly all literature relating to the program has been removed from Facebook.

So what happened? Facebook decided to simply give the benefits it was going to reserve for Great Apps and give them to the Verified Apps instead. Verified Apps are currently being more prominently displayed than their unverified brethren, and Facebook has recently been testing out some new features, like its payment platform, with a handful of them.

Here’s Facebook’s full explanation:

We decided to merge Great Apps with the App Verification program, as they achieve similar goals of helping users identify trusted applications and rewarding the developers who create them. Given the high quality of the applications that have come through the Verification Program and the positive response by users, we believe focusing on one program will provide the best outcome for both users and developers.

This all makes sense, but it’s hard to argue that being grouped into a field of hundreds of good apps is comparable to ranking among a dozen or so truly excellent applications. With 15 or so Great Apps, every top app could have been shown on a single screen, perhaps as the first thing users saw when they clicked over to the “Browse Applications” section. Facebook gives Verified Apps better positioning in the App Directory, but this promotion is diluted to some extent by the many other applications that are given the same treatment.

That said, we’ve heard that Verified Applications have been reaping the benefits of better placement and less restrictive invitation limits and seeing boosts in traffic. Still, I’m sure many of the truly great apps would have appreciated the chance to really stand above the rest.