Facebook Apps have been crushed by Facebook’s redesign this summer. Facebook just turned the game back on for app developers and marketers with an Application Verification Program that provides an opportunity for apps to regain both cred and exposure. Not a guarantee though. Here’s the context and conclusions….

Game on

In May 2007 Facebook launched a new platform with its own Facebook markup language, and they made it public to enable all developers to begin building their own custom applications for Facers to accessorize their Facebook profiles. Developers pounced and in less than a month over 40,000 developers had already created over 1,500 applications that enabled Facers to poke, green patch and befriend one another. App mania got a bit out of control and resulted in “app spam” for Facers.

Game off

In July 2008 there were more than 33,000 apps created by over 400,000 registered developers. Then everything changed. Facebook redesigned the layout of user’s profles and suddenly Apps got moved to the back of the bus. The redesign went from a single page layout with everything in one window to a segmented multi-paged profile with tab navigation. Those apps that held grand position on that first (only) page got tossed into a tab called “Boxes” (sounds so attractive huh?). Only a handful of popular apps were allowed access to the front Wall, regardless of what users wanted.

The rollout of the redesign was gradual so it wasn’t until September that developers began to see the impact. Many reports from app developers/marketers claimed drops from 40%-70%. Bad for the app guys, but relief for those so sick of endless app invitations, and those concerned about the privacy and security.

Game on

Nov 17, 2008 Facebook introduces the Application Verification Program. Facebook will now review applications submitted in exchange for a yearly fee of $375. Applications that pass the test get the all-valuable stamp of approval.

This beautiful blue (I assume it will be blue) badge reopens the door to marketers and developers, while creating assurances of “Meaningful”, “Trustworthy”, and “Well-Designed” for Facebook users. While some will complain about the fee, the big picture view is clear – Facebook wants to continue to inspire innovation from its developer community, but will set a bar to ensures that apps serve the Facer first.

The Facebook app is back.