Rumor: Facebook to take on Apple with HTML5 platform

Rumor: Facebook to take on Apple with HTML5 platform

Summary: A new rumor suggests Facebook is working on an HTML5 platform, codenamed Project Spartan, that will take on Apple's App Store.


On top of the leak describing Facebook's photo sharing app for the iPhone, there's now a rumor that Facebook wants to compete with Apple directly on its own turf: iOS. It's codenamed Project Spartan, and TechCrunch describes it like this:

Imagine loading up the mobile web version of Facebook and finding a drop-down for a new type of app. Clicking on one of the apps loads it (from whatever server it's on depending on the app-maker), and immediately a Facebook wrapper is brought in to surround the app. This wrapper will give the app some basic Facebook functionality, as well as the ability to use key Facebook elements — like Credits.

Project Spartan is a new HTML5 platform aimed at the hundreds of millions of Facebook mobile users, with the first target being mobile Safari. In other words, it means the various devices running iOS: the iPad, the iPhone, and the iPod touch.

Since Project Spartan is a platform, it won't be a native app distributed on Apple's App Store. Facebook wants to leverage its 600 million users to take on Apple's stranglehold on the mobile app market, or at least that's how the rumor goes. The broader goal is to get people using Facebook as the distribution model for apps, rather than Apple's App Store or Google's Android Market.

80 or so outside developers have been working for at least a couple of months with Facebook on Project Spartan, and the social network put in a lot of time before that. These teams, which are employed by companies such as Zynga and Huffington Post, are working on apps for the platform that range from games to news-reading apps. They are aiming to have these apps ready to roll out in the next few weeks for a formal unveiling shortly thereafter, so the apps may not be fully polished at launch.

Facebook Credits will likely be the currency used, and while the company has done quite a bit to build an easy payment system, it has done very little in the mobile space. Project Spartan will change that, allowing developers to sell apps and offer in-app purchases with Facebook Credits.

Again this is just a rumor, but it's a very detailed one. It's worth noting that it directly conflicts with another one from earlier this month: Facebook Credits to work on Apple’s iTunes platform.

Topics: Apple, Software Development, Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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  • RE: Rumor: Facebook to take on Apple with HTML5 platform

    • But still these apps can not be as smooth, sleek and fast as native for iOS

      @hoaxoner: ... but if this HTML5 platform will mature enough and will have good choice of apps, then users might very well work with it if it is not something speed-requiring.
      • RE: Rumor: Facebook to take on Apple with HTML5 platform

        Oh of course. I didn't mean in the short term, but if the LTE theoretical speeds are fast enough ~300 Mbit/s or whatever the end result is, and as ubiquitous as they say they are going to get, HTML5 + browser is a cheap and easy way to get your product in mobile devices and everywhere else.
    • The title should be "FaceBook decides to shoot own foot with HTML5".

      Good luck coding spaghetti Javascript junk.
      • RE: Rumor: Facebook to take on Apple with HTML5 platform

        Would you bet against Facebook in this regard? I wouldn't.
      • I'd bet ...

        their H5 apps will be underwhelming comparing what could be done should they go the Objective-C route.
      • RE: Rumor: Facebook to take on Apple with HTML5 platform

        @LBiege HTML5 removes the need for a shit-tonne of JS code. This route won't be nearly as complicated as you think.
    • RE: Rumor: Facebook to take on Apple with HTML5 platform

      @hoaxoner I totally agree. Facebook has the ability to walk into any market and make a huge dent / crater. With ~1billion customers at their finger tips. Only a matter of time before facebook leaks out much much further.
      sam - <a href="">4ps</a>
  • I doubt it

    There is no way that browser-based applications can compete with native apps for general functionality.

    Apple must have spend zillions on trying to develop decent web applications with Mobile Me and ditched it in favour of native apps. Facebook might try web applications, but only because they don't have a platform to code for.

    Browsers and the web are about ubiquitous access to information, not applications. Facebook works because it gives people access to information about their family, friends and acquaintances, not because it's a great application (I think that in many respects it sucks).
    Fred Fredrickson
  • RE: Rumor: Facebook to take on Apple with HTML5 platform

    Facebook does suck and their new groups is a huge step backward. This and all the privacy concerns and confusion lead me to think that Facebook will go the way of myspace and friendster in the future.