Facebook’s Top-Secret iPhone Platform

80 developers creating apps for Project Spartan

Facebook has some super-secret plans in the work that could be a threat to Apple's app dominance. TechCrunch is reporting that the social network is working on a new platform—code named Project Spartan—that won't be distributed through Apple's App Store, but instead will be entirely HTML5-based, and accessible through the iPhone’s mobile Safari browser.

“Facebook will never admit this, but those familiar with the project believe the intention is very clear: to use Apple’s own devices against them to break the stranglehold they have on mobile app distribution,” says TechCrunch. “With nearly 700 million users, Facebook is certainly in the position to challenge the almighty App Store distribution mechanism. But they need to be able to do so on Apple’s devices which make up a key chunk of the market.”

For “at least a couple of months,” an estimated 80 outside developers have been working with Facebook to design new apps for the Project Spartan platform, according to TechCrunch. These companies—including Zynga and the Huffington Post—will help create apps ranging from games to news, and users will be able to use Facebook Credits to buy apps or make app-related other purchases. Facebook wants to have these apps ready to unveil in the next few weeks.

Android will also be part of the Project Spartan platform, but “we’re told that the initial target is definitely mobile Safari on iOS devices,” says TechCrunch.