updated 10:10 pm EDT, Wed June 15, 2011
Project Spartan ports Facebook apps to iOS
Facebook is hoping to bring its app platform to mobile through a massive effort targeting iOS users, details of which escaped Wednesday night. Project Spartan would bring the social network's apps to mobile Safari through an HTML5 wrapper that would replicate some of Facebook itself, such as Credits. About 80 developers were said by TechCrunch to be involved, including FarmVille's Zynga and the Huffington Post.
The project has been in development for two months, not including earlier work from Facebook by itself. As such, many of the apps when they're revealed may be more proof of concept than live launches. Facebook's ultimate goal is reportedly to have an official debut within a few weeks. Android would be included as well but would be a secondary priority.
Facebook's goal would ostensibly be to get its app model on to iOS devices without having to pay Apple a royalty cut or otherwise abide by its rules. Zynga and others already have native apps on iOS but, as a result, take Facebook entirely out of the revenue system.
The move might, however, do more damage to Adobe than to Apple. Adobe has often pointed to Facebook as an example of why mobile users needed Flash on their devices, since FarmVille and many important games have used it. Project Spartan would relieve that dependence and shift to Apple's preferred HTML5 approach for the web.
For Facebook, the initiative could also be a symbolic counter to iOS 5's deep Twitter integration. After having lost its own chance to be the single sign-in service for Apple, Facebook would be eager to make itself an important part of iOS through whatever routes it can.