The web is abuzz with murmurs that Facebook is about to take on Apple at its own game...and on its own devices.

A TechCrunch report has spilled the beans on the existence of a top secret Facebook initiative dubbed Project Spartan (you can just imagine Zuckerberg all dressed up like King Leonidas, running around Facebook HQ shouting lines from 300) which will come to life as a mobile HTML5 app store.

And not just another app store to add to the pile but a mobile based one and, in particular, a mobile based app store that is designed to work within Mobile Safari.

That means an app store that will run seamlessly on Apple's devices including the iPhone and the iPad, that runs apps from within the browser (with a Facebook wrapper on, of course) and one that Apple has no control over whatsoever.

The report states that the aim is "to use Apple’s own devices against them to break the stranglehold they have on mobile app distribution". And, with 700 million users at its disposable, it has to be said that Facebook is in a prime position.

It's reported that 80 or so developers are working on the project, with the likes of Zynga (makers of the popular 'Ville games) and the Huffington Post already on board. The platform could launch "in the next few weeks" - although it may all be a bit beta-like to begin with.

With Facebook already having a payment system in place, the launch of Project Spartan could definitely have major implications for iOS users.

It seems that it isn't just Google who is going to have to keep rival app stores at bay.

Would you welcome a Facebook-flavoured app store? Let us know the usual way.....