The big buzz this week has been around Facebook’s plans to launch both a dedicated iPad app, a new Facebook Photo app, and their Project Spartan, which according to sources are all about HTML5 based platform for mobile devices.
Some time has passed since Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg declared that they weren’t looking to deliver an iPad optimized app as the device was not strictly speaking mobile, and like so many other things, it looks like his opinion has changed over time as well. According to a recent article in the New York Times they are ready to release their iPad optimized Facebook app within the coming weeks, and like the iPhone app, it will be free for users. Their sources inside Facebook says that the new app will be tailored to the touchscreen features of the iPad and deliver a user experience that surpasses the website, including the ability to shoot and upload photos and videos directly from the app using the built in camera of the iPad 2.
Perhaps more interesting than any of their other projects at the moment is the one referred to as; Project Spartan, and said to be all about a new Facebook platform for mobile built on HTML5. According to a Techcrunch article they aim to reach some 100 million mobile users with the new platform, bypassing the need for dedicated individual platform apps and instead using HTML5 for creating the same experience for webapps. Perhaps even more interesting is that they seem to target the mobile Safari browser first.
The aim for the new project seems to be to take back some of the control over their own users by taking the apps that consumers use away from Apple’s strict app control and into their own hands instead. According to their sources there are outside developers working on the project so that when it launches there will be a variety of apps ready for users to start taking advantage of, including games and news.
What Facebook might be trying to do with Project Spartan is to build their own app store outside of Apple’s direct control, but can web apps from Facebook change the established user pattern of third party apps on iOS devices? Apple will clearly see this as an attack on their business model and will do what they can to limit leakage from the official Facebook apps in their App Store into these webapps. How they might do that is yet to be seen, but i would expect that to happen.
As an iPhone/iPad/iPod user, would these potential new webapps accessible through Facebook mobile web in the Safari browser make you move away from using the Facebook app and instead start using the Safari browser more? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
It looks like the mobile sphere will be a very interesting arena to follow in the coming months, and expect some fierce rivalry between the ‘big ones’. We will be back with more information and developments of Project Spartan as information comes out.