TechNewsWorld.com: Drums of War Pound as Facebook Musters Spartan App Army
Facebook is working on an HTML 5-based platform code-named \u201cProject Spartan\u201d that will seek to distribute apps to iDevices, TechCrunch has reported.
The project purportedly has about 80 outside developers, including people from Zynga and Huffington Post, creating a variety of apps for the upcoming platform.
The apps are reportedly scheduled to be rolled out in the next few weeks.
If the reports are correct, Facebook may be seeking to dominate the mobile app space.
“We’ve been waiting for Facebook to do this for a while,” Josh Martin, a senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, told TechNewsWorld. “They’ve been talking about it for a couple of years.”
Facebook’s planned incursion into the iOS app space, if it does come about, could lead to a turf war with Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), suggested Neil Strother, practice director for mobile at ABI Research.
“If it’s a threat to Apple, then Apple might counteract it somehow,” Strother told TechNewsWorld.
Facebook, Zynga and the Huffington Post did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
Speculation on Spartan’s Workings
Users will reportedly be able to load up the mobile Web version of Facebook and see a drop-down menu for apps.
Clicking on an app will load it and launch a Facebook \u201cwrapper\u201d to surround the app. This will give the app some Facebook functionality and let the consumer use some Facebook features such as Credits.
This will let developers sell apps and offer in-app purchases.
Facebook Credits are a virtual currency the social network’s members can use to purchase virtual goods in games and apps on its platform.
The Spartan platform won’t offer access to all the features of iOS because of the limitations of HTML 5, but this won’t really matter, Strategy Analytics’ Martin stated.
“Facebook doesn’t necessarily need access to, for example, the accelerometer or gyroscope, so even though those APIs aren’t available through HTML 5, that won’t affect it,” Martin explained.
While actual details of the platform’s workings aren’t clear yet, Facebook’s goal in working on it is fairly obvious.
“It’s all about trying to engage consumers,” ABI’s Strother said.
Back to the Web
The Spartan platform might signal the return of Web apps to iOS.
Since the iPhone was limited to Web apps before the iTunes App Store was launched in 2008, does this signal a return to the past?
“HTML 5 offers more functionalities today than standard Web apps did when the iPhone first came out, and Web standards are more developed today,” Strategy Analytics’ Martin pointed out.
Further, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is betting big on Web apps with Chrome and the Chromebook netbook.
Apple has a Web apps page up on its site, as well.
Possible Issues for App Devs
With its hundreds of millions of users, Facebook is well positioned to take on the iTunes App Store as a distribution mechanism for iOS apps.
“Facebook is the one company that can do this and pull it off because it has the customer base,” Strategy Analytics’ Martin said.
However, app devs who use Spartan — when and if that platform is launched — may end up having to cope with a new set of issues……Learn More
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