Prime real estate on MySpace apps gallery comes with a price

Last week, MySpace opened its Application gallery to the public, allowing third-party developers' apps to be discovered and embedded in users' profiles. Those now highlighted as "featured applications" have reportedly earned that position by paying for it.

The most downloaded applications typically enjoy a place on the first page of MySpace's applications gallery, which premiered last week. Now, however, the gallery has a "featured applications" section that encompasses the top half of the splash page, the prime real estate formerly showing off the most popular gadgets.

Today, all the featured applications come from Slide Inc., makers of the Superpoke application found on just under 400,000 Facebook pages. The result looks more like an advertisement for Slide than a forum for putting out developers' wares.

First-page positioning has proven to be very important on the social network, and musicians featured on MySpace's splash page see their popularity grow exponentially. In 2006, independent hip-hop record label QN5's founder Tony Rojas wrote a blog about trying to get some of his artists featured on the front page. He said his contact with MySpace's marketing department and music editor were fruitless without first going through the site's advertising department.

Developers have reported the same struggle with getting their applications featured, claiming a price tag as high as $100,000 for a week-long position on the front page.

Competing social site Facebook's application directory defaults to the "Recently Popular" category, which ranks applications in a self-explanatory fashion, but can be re-sorted to list applications according to "Most Activity," "Most Active Users," and "Newest."

A breakdown posted on FlowingData yesterday showed that of Facebook's 23,160 applications, the overwhelming majority fall into the "just for fun" category. "Just for Fun" (or "pointless," if you're so inclined), vastly outnumber utilities, music, photo, video, and travel applications with a total of 9,745 to choose from.

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