Facebook is increasingly growing into a mobile company. However, the social network has held off from publishing an official iPad app for so long. With a scheduled media announcement this week, though, is Facebook finally going to launch its much-anticipated "Project Spartan" and official iPad application?
A Threat to Apple?
Facebook is rumored to be developing a mobile platform for applications, codenamed Project Spartan. The platform is supposedly based on HTML5, and is meant to run on mobile browsers. In particular, Facebook is said to be targeting Apple's own Safari browser, and will deliver applications through the browser, which means Facebook can practically bypass Apple's App Store in delivering apps and content.
The release of such a platform may be seen as a threat to Apple, which has, for so long, monopolized the release and publication of apps in the iOS ecosystem (except for jailbroken devices). While the company has denied the existence of such a project, sources cited by TechCrunch and Mashable say that the company is planning to launch the platform in time for Apple's product announcement event on October 4.
Finally, an iPad Facebook App!
Head of mobile products Erick Tseng says about half of its 800 million active users gain access to Facebook through mobile devices. However, while Facebook has official iPhone and Android apps, an official app for the iPad has been conspicuously missing. Developers involved in building the app say the software has been ready for months, and some have reportedly expressed frustration over the delays. A working version of the iPad app was actually leaked within the iPhone app this July, but quickly deactivated.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says it will eventually release the app. But with this launch reportedly to be done in time for Apple's own iOS 5 launch this coming week, one might wonder about the timing. Facebook could have launched Spartan during its own f8 developer conference last week, but why have it coincide with Apple's event? Is Facebook challenging Apple in its own game? Or, is the new app ecosystem actually being done with Apple's blessing?
If Facebook gets to establish a new standard for publishing applications through the mobile web -- particularly on Apple devices -- then it will make sense for Apple and Facebook to play nice.