Ina Fried

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GetJar Wants Its App Store to Start Making Friends

Independent app store GetJar is hoping to tap the power of “The Social Network” to boost use of its service.

The company is announcing later Monday that it is integrating Facebook Connect into the latest version of its mobile Web store. GetJar is hoping that the move will help it stand out in an increasingly competitive field that includes the official Android market, Amazon’s app store and a host of smaller competitors.

“I don’t see the primary app stores really doing this for a while because they all see Facebook as a competitor,” GetJar director of mobile products Mario Tapia said in a recent interview.

Those that opt to log in with their Facebook account will be able to see what their friends are downloading and also post their activity to the social network.

Tapia expects such social cues will become an increasingly important factor for people as they try to decide which apps to download among tens of thousands of choices. Over time, Facebook referrals could become an even more important discovery mechanism than search, he said.

“Search in the future will not be the major lead generator,” Tapia said. “I think social graphs–social networks–will be overshadowing search when it comes to discovery of content.”

GetJar is also facing steep competition from not just its traditional adversaries–the official Apple and Android marketplaces–but also from a host of other rivals. All of these app stores are offering their own approach for solving the app discovery problem and looking to scoop up a chunk of the advertising dollars that app makers are willing to spend to get their programs noticed. To bulk up for that battle, GetJar raised an additional $25 million in funding earlier this year.

Most recently, GetJar was involved in a spat with browser maker Opera, which built an app store of its own into its mobile browser. GetJar initially pulled Opera from its store, but the browser has since returned to GetJar’s digital shelves, albeit in a version without the built-in app store.

Even those users that choose to connect with Facebook won’t have to share all their downloads with their friends, but they will have to remember to opt out of sharing that information–or face having to explain to a wife or husband why they downloaded Flirtomatic.

Tapia said the company had a lot of discussion on whether to make download sharing opt-in or opt-out.

“It’s not hidden,” he said. “I think people are going to be open to sharing as opposed to not.”

Update, 10:28 a.m.: I initially misspelled Tapia’s last name. It’s fixed now.

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