Report: Apple doesn’t fear, actually helping Facebook with ‘Project Spartan’ HTML5 app plan

TechCrunch’s MG Siegler has posted a lengthy article about Facebook’s secret “Project Spartan,” which Siegler says is “clearly aimed to be step one in a maneuver against the companies currently controlling the mobile ecosystem, namely Apple and Google.”

Siegler reports, “Apple knows about Project Spartan, and is believed to even be lending some minor support to the project. Why do that for a project that ultimately hopes to usurp the native App Store and Apple payment model? Because Apple is not afraid of it at all, we’ve heard. And based on some of the HTML5-based Spartan apps I’ve seen, I have to agree. The likelihood users would choose these over a native iPhone app right now, is laughable.”

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“So in mildly supporting Facebook’s efforts here, Apple looks benevolent and smart (while shaking their head and laughing). But I also believe Apple doesn’t know the full extent of the project,” Siegler reports. “Apple may not view Spartan as a threat at all right now — and in fact, it sort of helps them because it is moving popular games, like the ones by Zynga, off of Flash and onto HTML5 — but down the road, that is absolutely what Facebook intends it to be.”

“Still, perhaps Apple is that bearish on HTML5 app development. But others certainly aren’t. Not just Facebook, but many developers, including all the ones working on Spartan,” Siegler reports. “They believe that HTML5 will eventually take down the native model. But perhaps Apple just has the mentality that they’ll deal with that issue when it actually becomes a problem.”

Siegler also reports, “Apple has been working with Facebook on their iPad app, which should finally be available in the next few weeks. Apple has wanted this app since the initial iPad launch just over a year ago… it’s a selling point for the device… There’s no reason it should have taken [so] long, unless they were holding it back as some sort of leverage over Apple.”

Much, much more in the full article here.

Related article:
Project Spartan: Facebook’s secret plan to attack Apple’s iOS App Store – June 17, 2011

40 Comments

  1. Leverage? Yeah right. I can just see millions of people saying to themselves “I was going to buy an iPad but there’s no way I’m going to do it if there’s no Facebook app” Not!

  2. Apple initially tried an HTML only software development model when they released the first iPhone. I still remember the outcry of displeasure. I also still remember the iPhones success really take off once apple released the first SDK.

  3. Why should Apple be concerned? It championed web apps from the start, and still makes its money from iDevices. And no, I don’t believe the App Store was always part of the plan.

    Also, why shouldn’t Android web apps run on iDevices?

    1. I remember that 1st year of the iPhone well!! They started off pushing webapps and even made a website for it. It didn’t work well cause game apps are very laggy in the browser especially at that time. Of course the new hardware will help that somewhat. Still you can’t compare native apps to webapps.

  4. How anyone could think a company, in Apple, at the forefront of the technology industry, and pulling further ahead by the day, could be “afraid” of another tech company just baffles me.

    1. I guess what is truly baffling, perhaps, is that MG Siegler expects the readers to accept the fact that MG Siegler knows more than Apple on what’s good for them.

      For the life of me, I can’t believe that Apple haven’t already replaced their team(s) for future strategies with MG Siegler, a soothsayer if there ever was one.

  5. When are these people going to finally realize apple makes money on hardware the app store, and music store are breakeven buisnesses. Anything that drives hardware sales is welcome they don’t need ad revenue like facebook or google.

    1. Lots of native iOS apps use the internet, too. It’s not like using the gmail web app takes up that much more bandwidth than Mail. Video is problematic item with caps.

  6. In discussions of Spartan or anything similar, proponents seem to forget that all across this continent there are HUGE numbers of people why are not near Wi-Fi and who either have no cell signal or are constantly going in and out of areas where cell is available.

  7. I’m amazed by how little thought is put into these comments. What I’m reading is, Apple makes up your mind for you!

    If Apple zig zags across the ice, there you lemmings go. You think you know what goes on in the mind of Apple when they make their move, so you follow, in defense, always on defense.

    Like MG, you feel compelled to provide a running commentary to your audience comprised of lemmings who constantly need assurance.

    From where I stand, I can see the play taking shape and have taken my cues, not from Apple, but the opponent. I peel away in anticipation, to flank my teammates, to position myself where I can do the most good for the team, not following the puck, but to be there to receive it.

    In other words, my place on the roster didn’t come with the price of admission!

    1. The opponents of Apple are “cheap as owl droppings” and “good enough for the average consumer.” They lie about their products and then do everything they can to escape liability for it. They almost won in the nineties. lf that’s what you are for, then you’re welcome to it.

        1. Everything I know about Apple’s opponents comes from using their products, since they are unavoidable in a world where “good enough” is good enough for those who don’t know better.

          1. In your world good enough is good enough.

            Apple’s opponent’s aren’t just making products! They’re developing ideas/patents, many of which Apple is also pursuing.

            Again, everything you know about Apple’s opponents is what you claim to have used, but the mobile industry is a moving target and you’ve been playing with yesterday’s toys.

            1. Corporate attitudes are just as important as innovations. It was innovative for Microsoft to add an HD AM radio to the Zune. But to get that radio, the consumer had to put up with all of the inadequacies of the product. Every company should do research and innovate, and it’s absurd if you’re implying that Apple does not.

      1. I always liked the assertion that Apple got to where it is now by using Gretzky’s idea of not skating to where the puck is, but skating to where the puck will be.

  8. There doesn’t need to be an app for everything. Remember when everyone was using Flash on their webpages when there was absolutely no reason to do it? It was just done because it was the modern thing to do. In reality straight up HTML would have been a better choice.

    For one thing HTML makes your content available on any platform and you only have to author once.

    I think people are getting hung up on terminology. A web app is just a webpage. An those have been selling all kinds of things for a long time.

    Native apps are perfect for applications that are far more complex than what can be accomplished with HTML, at this point anyway. In fact a least part of the surge in mobile apps can be attributed iOS not supporting Flash. There are lots of iOS apps that seriously don’t need to be.

    It is silly to worry about websites selling Facebook apps. That makes no sense. I believe we will see more and more web apps geared to mobile devices as HTML 5 becomes more mature. Good.

    1. Good comment.

      Apple never changed their mind about Web apps, they simply postponed the transition. If anything Apple was premature.

      If a large chunk of the internet embraced HTML5 and OpenGL, handheld hardware would be reduced to the role of appliances would cost next to nothing.

      The internet as we knew it twenty-years ago is gone forever, bought up by conglomerates who have appointed themselves gatekeepers to the internet and charge hefty fees for admission.

      In the meantime, with Apple’s help, the citizens of the world have are being placated with a mobile solution and native apps as big business continues to suck up all the IP and consolidate large portions of the internet inside fences.

      The little businesses and independents who have a presence on the internet need to serve up a web app solution now before they become another victim in the war of attrition against those who want to own the internet.

      Apple is a hardware company and they recently made one of the biggest harware investments in tech history. Before long this cookie-cutter operation will be replicated on every continent on the planet and once that happens, guess which direction they’ll take?

  9. Siegler is being a total idiot with these “Apple vs. Facebook” articles.

    the war is instead so obviously Facebok vs. Google. it is simple: both want to dominate “Social.” both want to be your universal homepage from which you launch – and then monetize – everything they can make work in a browser. that is how they (hope to) make lots of money.

    (this idea ain’t exactly new. AOL and then Yahoo tried it with the tools of their day. they flopped. but it might be more popular with the simplification of portable devices, and “Social” may be more addicting.)

    Apple just wants to sell you hardware. that is how they make their money. their stores are conceived as part of the ecosystem that sells hardware. they are more of a service than profit center. a good Facebook app will help Apple sell hardware.

    like, duh.

  10. There is one crucial difference that hasn’t been pointed out. Apps from the store are compiled, and the user does not get the source code. Correct me if I am wrong, but HTML5 apps will include the code. It would be like writing JavaScript apps.

    As a financial model, it won’t work.

    1. Sorta.

      Many iOS apps are in fact Web apps, probably done in DashCode (think OS X widget) that have a very simple iOS native app wrapper. Like widgets these things can do simple and on occasion neat stuff.

      To state the obvious these ‘widgets’ with iOS wrappers can do neat things and don’t require tons of time or a deep knowledge of Obj-C, just HTML/5 and Javascript. The drawback of course is it lacks the power of a true native app but that is OK because not all apps have to be super complex and powerful. Example: Who has a fart app?

      Now on to the compiled part. It is true that a web app (again think widget) can have its source code exposed, if it is run in a browser.
      However, a web app that actually talks to a server can eliminate much of this and a web app that has a native app wrapper can eliminate this all together.
      Sorry if this is to simple or to complicated but a web app doesn’t have to connect to the web…… and it doesn’t have to run in a browser, it can run in a native app that has a browser object (UIWebView).

      Sorry, for the ramblings of a tired developer.

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