Facebook Reportedly Readying An Alternative To iPhone App Store

We’ve previously covered the leaked photo sharing app that Facebook is working on. But this potential leak is of much, much greater consequence! The world’s most popular social networking site is said to be working on a mobile platform to “take on” Apple’s iOS.

Facebook Logo

The platform – according to TechCrunchis codenamed Project Spartan. Work on this project started at least two months ago. It is based on the HTML5 language which grants it the ability to run on HTML5-ready web browsers. One such web browser is, of course, Safari for iOS.

iOS devices (that’s the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad) are used by over 100 million users. Now Facebook intends to target these users by launching the abovementioned mobile platform on iOS. And it will work something like this:

5143950250_3ebd14446c_zimage via dmanmatt

Facebooks users will open the mobile web version of Facebook. Once logged in, they can load a variety of apps from a drop-down menu (similar to the one used today for accessing Friends, Photos, Events, Settings etc). The app will then load within a Facebook wrapper.

What this wrapper will do is grant the app access to the user’s Facebook account… specifically: the user’s Credits. Credits is Facebook’s virtual currency which you can use to buy items inside apps. Credits are to Facebook what Microsoft Points are to Xbox Live.

TechCrunch reports that there are around 80 third party developers working with Facebook to make use of the upcoming platform. These developers are developing all sorts of apps: you’ve got games, you’ve got news-reading apps and many more in the pipeline. Developers behind the popular Farmville and Cityville Facebook Apps – Zynga – as well as online news website Huffington Post are reportedly working on apps for Project Spartan.

Facebook, of course, replied with “we have nothing to share” on this rumored project.

The aim behind this is to make people go through Facebook, instead of the iOS App Store, to play games on iOS: Facebook wants to be the distribution model for games/apps so consumers pay them instead of going through Apple’s App Store wherein Apple gets a cut from each purchased item.

However, once should look at this rumor by taking a few steps back and looking at the bigger picture: Apple actually welcomes powerful web apps that make use of HTML5. Apple’s initial goal was to work on HTML5 apps but later, the company gave up the idea in favor of native apps.

So, in a way, this decision may just actually be in favor of Apple and it just may be that TechCrunch’s reporter is simply dramatizing the whole affair.

Lastly, Project Spartan, being HTML5 based, will surely also work on Android smartphones.

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