Facebook’s Spartan Approach to Dethroning Apple

by Matt Klassen on June 17, 2011

While the headline might indicate that Facebook is taking a reserved, patient, and perhaps even laconic approach to battling Apple for mobile app supremacy, the truth lies closer to the picture on the left.

In response to the perceived slight of Facebook not being integrated into Apple’s new iOS 5, the social networking giant is reportedly developing plans to, “use Apple’s own devices against them to break the stranglehold they have on mobile app distribution.”

To that end, Facebook is rumoured to be working on a new mobile platform, designed specifically to compete with Apple’s wildly successful App Store. In fact, the platform, codenamed Project Spartan, is so uniquely designed to combat Apple that it will reportedly be HTML5-based—Steve Jobs programming language of choice—and will be only be compatible with Apple’s mobile Safari.

Although I personally have no love for either Facebook or Apple, I have to admit that such deviousness, such spite, such covert dealings, always interest me…it just makes for good writing.

Over the past year Facebook has been continually looking for ways to build on its indomitable hold over our social networking habits, with its most notable ventures being in the mobile technology sector. In response to Apple’s clear control over the mobile app market, Facebook has taken a number of steps to wrest away some of that market share from the now ubiquitous App Store.

Recently, in an effort to respond to the simple and straightforward mobile payment system in Apple’s App Store, Facebook unveiled Credits, its own payment service. Now with Project Spartan Zuckerberg and company are giving Credits a home, offering developers and consumers alike a one-stop app marketplace connected (albeit loosely) to the world’s most popular social networking site.

While Apple is clearly the target of Facebook’s ire, there is one unintended benefit that may come out of this for the Cupertino Company, the death of Flash. Steve Jobs has long railed against the popular Internet code for years now, stating that it’s a relic of the past that should be done away with. Now, with Facebook creating a HTML5 platform—even if it’s designed to combat Apple’s own platform—having such support for the script could be enough to end Flash’s impressive run.

So how does it all work? Simply put, written in HTML5, Facebook’s platform will bypass Apple’s App Store entirely, meaning that it won’t be subject to Apple’s draconian developer agreement. When one connects to Facebook on their iPhone or iPad, a menu will appear allowing users to download apps compatible with Facebook’s Credits payment system. So, if you want to load Farmville for instance, you would simply click to load and then be able to open up additional levels and features through the Facebook payment system. While it remains to be seen how integrated this platform will be with Facebook’s social network, it strikes me as the perfect way to beat Apple at its own game.

But childish grudges aside, Facebook’s ultimate goal is clear, to curb the waning interest in its largely static social networking experience by offering users a richer, more comprehensive hub for their entire technological existence…screwing over Apple is just an added bonus.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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