Facebook is reportedly in talks with developers about selling apps and games directly through its mobile browser in an effort to allow it to bypass app stores and the 30 percent revenue cut it gets, according to a new report from Bloomberg.
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of this plan, as TechCrunch broke the story about Project Spartan: an HTML5-approach to the mobile site which will enable Facebook to sell its own apps using Facebook Credits (which is gets a 30 percent cut from) but this Bloomberg report pretty much confirms that this is going down. It’s not much of a surprise, as the world’s largest social network has said on many occasions that it really sees mobile as the future.
The move makes a lot of sense, as Facebook sees itself as the social graph for the web and mobile and now it’s time to focus on what developers can build on top like Skype on the desktop version. Zynga is about to go public with a massive valuation and most of its revenues come from Facebook users, so the social network wants to be just as fertile ground for mobile app developers.
That’s why we still hear some rumors of a “Facebook phone” and I don’t mean the HTC Status. While this move would likely impact Android too, Google monetizes in different ways than Apple, so apps through the mobile browser likely won’t be as big of a deal for it.
Facebook is in a unique position because it may have some actual leverage over Apple. If this is actually done through full HTML5 through the browser, Apple can’t stop it and removing the Facebook app from the App Store would be self-defeating because accessing Facebook on the go is one of the reasons people buy an iPhone. I’m sure Apple will try and find a way to discourage this, though.