Project Spartan – Facebook’s Preparing to Take on the App Store

TechCrunch has been spilling the beans on Facebook’s entire 2011 roadmap over the last few days. It appears that someone inside the social networking company has been sending the site information regarding top secret Facebook projects.

We’ve already told you about the new Facebook photo sharing app, but some even more interesting stuff has developed since then. Ladies and gentleman, allow me to introduce Project Spartan

“Project Spartan” is the codename for a new mobile platform Facebook is about to launch, completely HTML5-based. Those familiar with the project seem to believe that its purpose is to take on Apple’s goliath mobile app distribution system, the App Store.

There is currently believed to be about 80 outside developers working with Facebook on Project Spartan. They’re building everything from games to RSS feed readers, and are expected to be finished with the next couple of weeks.

MG Siegler, who has seen Project Spartan with his own eyes, describes it as “a web version of Facebook, with an extra icon that launches an app area.” Each application will have in-app Facebook controls as well as Credit support.

If you don’t know what Facebook Credits are, it’s essentially their payment method. You can obtain more Credits with actual money, or there are tons of ways to earn free Credits around the web.

While Facebook certainly has the budget and the user-base (nearly 700 million users) to give Apple some strong competition, I don’t see web apps ever triumphing over native ones — unless you’re an Android user.

At any rate, any major launch like this from a company the size of Facebook is always exciting. It’ll be interesting to see what effects, if any, this has on the mobile industry. Whatever you do Facebook, don’t call your new software distribution hub an “App Store.

What do you think? Should Apple be worried about Project Spartan?