Facebook Pokes Users Through App Stores

Mobile app usage can vary dramatically from handset to handset, according to new data from Distimo, but here in the U.S., the love for Facebook is handset-agnostic. The social networking site’s app was among the top 10 downloaded by U.S. users in all five major OS-specific app stores in December, said the Dutch analytics company, and was among the top five apps downloaded from Apple’s (s aapl) App Store, RIM’s (s rimm) BlackBerry App World and Google’s (s goog) Android Market.

Distimo’s report underscores the amazing traction Facebook has gained as it’s expanded into mobile. The company last fall said 65 million people were accessing Facebook through their phones, and today Opera Software reported that Facebook traffic through its Opera Mini browser jumped more than sixfold last year as the site became the most popular social network for Mini users. Meanwhile, the new startup Ground Truth this week said Facebook was the second-most visited site on the mobile web in the first week of 2010, placing behind MySpace. That kind of traction indicates that Facebook is well on its way to reaching the potential Om envisioned for the company in mobile almost a year ago.  And it will only increase as Facebook continues to integrate more closely with mobile phones via features like contacts and comments.

Interestingly, Distimo also found that European developers charge more for their offerings than those from elsewhere, while apps produced in Japan cost the least. And the average price of apps for BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices is more than twice that of apps for other handsets (see chart) — which is not surprising given their business focus. That suggests there may be an opportunity for both players to differentiate themselves (GigaOM Pro, sub. required) from the rest of the app- store crowd by offering a smaller number of high-value apps in contrast to the cheaper novelty apps that litter bigger storefronts.

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Thumbnail image of Facebook’s mobile site courtesy Flickr user sonofabike.