The dream of having social viral channels for app discovery is still a ways off, but that doesn’t mean unofficial app stores can’t make moves in this direction.
GetJar, an independent app store backed by Accel Partners that says it has powered 1.5 billion downloads to date, launched a Facebook integration today that lets users share their download activity and use “like” and “dislike” buttons to help friends decide what apps to install and what to ignore.
If the big platforms like Android and iOS improved social discovery of apps, it would go a long way toward helping developers acquire users.
Right now, a minority of developers get the vast bulk of downloads because of the way the iOS app store and Android Market are designed. They use rankings by installs or active usage and have curated placement. That means if you’re not one of the lucky few who has a connection at Apple to get a featured slot or gets a burst of downloads that pushes your app into the top of the charts, it is extremely difficult to get new users.
Social app discovery would ease the difference in downloads between what the long-tail of developers and the biggest companies get. In GetJar’s overhaul, users can catalogue their download history and make it accessible to others for reference.
You can browse apps that friends have (see right). You can see that GetJar board member and Accel partner Rich Wong has downloaded Rovio’s Angry Birds, where he is also an investor, and Facebook, which counts Accel as its earliest venture investor.
Facebook and GetJar have long had a close relationship. Not only do they share a venture investor, GetJar has also helped Facebook users find appropriate apps given their devices and OS. As of last November, the company had facilitated 100 million downloads of Facebook mobile apps.