Earlier tonight, Alexia found and posted some screenshots of something that sure looked a lot like the mythical “Project Spartan“. Shortly thereafter, Facebook took down the page in question. And for good reason. That was Project Spartan, we’ve now confirmed.
Well, to be fair, I’ve heard numerous times that they don’t actually call it that internally. That may be a name that external developers use. No matter — we all know what I mean. It’s the HTML5-based mobile platform that Facebook has been building in secret for months. And now it’s done. In fact, it has been done for a while. From what I hear, it has been waiting on one thing…
And that’s where things get really interesting.
At the risk of sounding like The Boy Who Cried Wolf, I’m just going to say it: Facebook’s iPad app is about to launch. That too has been ready to go for a while now, but it has been held up by some internal back-and-forth between Apple and Facebook. And Project Spartan has been waiting on that iPad app.
Earlier this week, Mashable reported that Facebook’s iPad app would launch at Apple’s iPhone event this coming Tuesday. For what it’s worth, we’ve heard Facebook is actually planning to launch the iPad app at their own iPad/Spartan event on Monday. But they’re still discussing all of this with Apple. And Apple has been well known to change things at the last second. It is possible that they want Facebook to launch this on stage at their event to showcase some of the new HTML5 capabilities of iOS 5 (which will also be formally unveiled at the event).
I believe the Monday launch is a fallback option. Facebook is apparently ready to go with or without Apple.
Last week, we noted that the main developer of Facebook’s iPad app left in frustration over delays with the app. Again, this is all about the Facebook/Apple relationship. Don’t believe the app was pretty much ready to go a couple of months ago? Then why was it in the live code?
Spartan has also been delayed a few times. More recently, we’ve been hearing a lot about the collaboration between Apple and Facebook on the project. The two (Facebook iPad and Facebook Spartan) are now joined at the hip, it seems. One will not launch without the other. And apparently, all of this is with Apple’s blessing.
But make no mistake, the relationship between the two companies is tenuous at best. Both know that they’d probably be better off working together, but both also believe that they don’t actually need each other. Hence, the dancing we’ve been seeing and hearing about. The two are frenemies. But the launch of Google+ has made one common enemy very clear…
This time it sure looks like the planets are aligning. Sources on both sides suggest a major Facebook/Apple/iPad/HTML5 announcement happening early next week one way or another. This time I wouldn’t bet against it.