Is HTML5 the Answer to Mobile App Development?

25 04 2013

Appcelerator HTML5 ChartThere is definitely mixed feelings out in the market on how to build and support mobile apps and websites. On one side you have those that are frustrated with HMTL5 (Facebook and others come to mind). A recent report issued by Appcelerator and IDC found that while it is “evolving into a strong and proven platform for creating all but the most demanding consumer and business applications” it has still a ways to go to become a development standard. In the survey, which interviewed over 5,000 developers it was clear that concerns still remain. “On the positive side, clearly HTML5 retains its user satisfaction numbers in terms of its ability to deliver a true cross-development environment. As well, the ability to get updates of applications out the door quickly retains a positive satisfaction level.

Things become dicey, however, on a relatively large number of fronts. The issue of monetization, which tops the list with an 83.4 percent neutral to dissatisfaction rating, is interesting. We wish the survey had done a deeper dive on that, but we suspect that the issue comes down to one of getting HTML5-based apps out into the market. Are developers worried about a lack of app store capability? Are they worried about a lack of ecosystems such as the Apple App Store and Google Play? For enterprise developers these are non-issues; enterprise application stores are easy to build and support.

For developers looking to build mobile apps they may be looking to market for $1 (or whatever price point is appropriate) to a million individual users, the availability of an ecosystem becomes crucial, and it is true that for HTML5 apps an easy path to a viable ecosystem to sell them does not currently exist.”

On the other side you have developers who love it (example – Netflix moving from native to HTML5) and in a recent article Nick Heath shared that “for every firm that switches away from HTML5 to native mobile app development there are major companies, such as the Financial Times and LinkedIn, that have adopted HTML5.”

He continues “The global travel technology company Sabre shares that same sense of excitement about HTML5. The firm provides software for some of the world’s biggest airlines and travel agents as well running travel sites such as and Travelocity. It is switching its flagship TripCase app for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry app to run largely on HTML5 and JavaScript.

Tomek Krzyzak, software development VP for Sabre, said switching TripCase to HTML5 and JavaScript – with their ability to run on any mobile platform – primarily makes it easier to roll out the app for multiple flavors of handsets.

For TripCase, HTML5 is used to render the app’s interface and JavaScript to control the app’s client-side logic. The app runs within a native code shell on each platform, which allows it to be downloaded through the respective app stores, as well as providing access to platform-specific features such as push email notification.

And while HTML5 has still to overcome the shortcomings of its relative immaturity as a mobile app-development platform, Krzyzak believes that the sheer volume of mobile platforms will drive developers to favor HTML5.”

‘I can see at some point in time that everyone will be doing it,’ he said.

‘Fragmentation of mobile devices is really big. This is like what we saw 30 years ago with the PC, with hundreds of standards and everyone wanting to produce their own PC.’

He predicted it will take five to 10 years for mobile platforms to converge around a standard, and that in the meantime HTML5 will become the de facto choice for developers looking for a manageable way to make apps for the panoply of platforms.”

Regardless of which way you fall, the ability to efficiently develop apps and websites for mobile in a much shorter timeframe will be too hard for many to ignore. As device fragmentation continues to show no signs of disappearing anytime soon, this could be a way out.



5 responses

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