Facebook will give you free services and support worth $30K if you build an app. The financial incentive, announced at F8 2014, comes in the form of tools and services from Facebook and 11 other companies. The opportunity is available to any developer worldwide with a public iOS or Android app.
Qualifying developers will receive credits for Facebook advertising and Parse, plus free services from companies that deliver product testing, recruiting, customer care, video conferencing and document management. Participating companies include Adobe, Appurify, Asana, BlueJeans, Desk.com, MailChimp, Proto.io, Quip, SurveyMonkey, UserTesting, and Workable.
Developers attending Facebook’s F8 conference in San Francisco have been able to apply while attending, and the rest of us will be able to apply in the coming weeks.
You can apply even if your app is not integrated with Facebook. There are two tracks - Bootstrap track for companies just getting started, and the Accelerate track for apps that demonstrated initial traction and are trying to grow.
While the headline $30K is extremely attractive, the actual details of what’s on offer means most developers would get far less than that in reality.
For startups, the amount on offer is actually $5K, and the goody bag starts with $50 ad credit on Facebook for new spenders ; and $100 mobile app platform credit on Parse, the mobile-backend-as-a-service product bought by Facebook last year. You get a three months license for Adobe Creative Cloud suite, and 30 hours of use of the Appurify testing suite. Other tools included in the offer are 12 months of the Desk.com customer care tool; 6 months of the Proto.io prototyping tool; two credits for the UserTesting UX research tool; and the option of recruiting on the Workable recruitment tool.
For companies who already have an app and who want to grow, the Accelerate Track has tools and services worth up to $30,000, including access to the Facebook Start to Success program; Parse credit; and priority access to Internet.org innovation lab. You can read the full list of tools and services on offer on the FbStart site.
The sudden rush of generosity is due to Facebook’s ambition to become the prime mobile app business, reflecting the importance to Facebook of mobile devices now that the majority of Facebook users access the site on mobile devices.
Facebook’s plan for mobile app supremacy is largely based on Parse, which Facebook acquired last year. Parse provides back-end services for app developers, and if you use their cloud-based servers you can (in theory) avoid using your own servers to maintain your apps, and instead let Facebook and Parse do it.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the Facebook conference that mobile apps are the future of Facebook's business, hence the thinking behind acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp.
Of course there are other players in the same area and it is unlikely that Google for one will simply ignore a take over of Android by Facebook. Look out for a response at Google I/O.