HTML5 Apps Platform Creator Absorbed by Facebook

UPDATE Facebook has issued a statement to the All Facebook blog this afternoon, saying the company has made an out-and-out purchase of Strobe Corp., the project led by former Apple staffer Charles Jolley, this afternoon.

“We’re excited to confirm that we’ve completed a talent acquisition for Strobe Corp., a mobile-app-development startup based in San Francisco,” the statement reads. The statement does not go on to indicate whether the Strobe project itself, which was to have been a cross-platform HTML5 apps distribution system, will be picked up by Facebook. However, based on information a Facebook spokesperson gave RWW this morning, Jolley will be working on the mobile engineering team on an existing mobile apps distribution project for the Facebook Platform.

Just two months ago, SproutCore looked like the foundation for a potentially groundbreaking distribution platform for mobile HTML5 apps, based on work that was started at Apple. But now that appMobi has made very significant inroads with mobiUs – a cloud-based platform that’s open right now to small developers – the Strobe team responsible for SproutCore is announcing that Charles Jolley, its charismatic leader, has joined Facebook.

Facebook confirmed the news this afternoon with ReadWriteWeb. The message on the Strobe team’s blog appears very carefully crafted, making clear that SproutCore will continue as an independent project, but omitting any mention of how Jolley’s existing work would be utilized by Facebook, if at all.

“Strobe was founded on the belief that HTML5 can transform the way average people use their mobile phones through apps that are available everywhere, anytime, on any device,” Jolley wrote this morning. “Now we’re joining the talented people at Facebook to help develop innovative mobile experiences for their users around the world. For now, the Strobe service will continue to be available to existing users in its existing beta form. We will provide updates by e-mail if and when this changes. SproutCore, meanwhile, will continue as an independent project.”

That message appears to imply the likelihood that Strobe development has stopped from this point forward. A Facebook spokesperson declined specific comment on whether Jolley’s work will follow Jolley into the company, though the spokesperson then added that he will officially be joining the Mobile Engineering team. The spokesperson then pointed us to a page on Facebook’s developers’ blog, which likely describes the project to which Jolley will now be assigned. The post refers to Facebook Platform’s own mobile distribution app, which launched last month.

“We are at the beginning of bringing Facebook Platform apps to mobile,” reads that post from Facebook software development engineer Luke Shepard. “The features we are launching today are still under development. They will evolve as we learn more about building richer social experiences on mobile devices. In addition, we will extend our native support for more mobile platforms such as Android in the near future. We are excited to see what you will build with these features today and look forward to working with you as we improve these features.”

So while it’s conceivable that Facebook Platform on mobile could look more Strobe-like over time, it won’t be the all-inclusive HTML5 distribution system that Charles Jolley originally had in mind.

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