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HTML5 on Mobile: Technology on the Rebound, but Still Out-Classed by Native Development

By Dick Weisinger

“New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices,” wrote Steve Jobs in April 2010.  But the road to HTML5 acceptance hasn’t been an easy one.

A low point in attitude toward HTML5 came in the summer of 2012, when Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook’s big HTML5 bet was “one of the biggest strategic mistakes we made…  It just wasn’t ready.”  Facebook’s HTML5 apps were slow and unreliable.  Zuckerburg said that “good enough is not good enough. We have to get to the highest quality level, and only way we’ll get there is to do native.”

Ojas Rege, VP of Strategy at MobileIron, told Matt Rosoff that  “the HTML versus native question is not an enterprise or consumer-specific question… It’s a user-specific question… If you sacrifice user experience to make your developers’ lives easier, the app will just fail.”

A report by Vision Mobile further hammered HTML5 technology by identifying five specific areas where it lags native development: APIs, performance, education, tools and marketing.

But a recent report by Telerik finds that HTML5 limitations are being gradually corrected and developer sentiment towards HTML5 is changing.  The Telerik report found that 57 percent of developers now believe that HTML5 is currently ready or will be ready within 12 months for enterprise development.

Andrey Kovalishin, mobile game developer, said that “attempting to work on both platforms [iOS and Android] requires developers to be compatible with two operating systems that are defined by the different rules and instructions of the companies behind them: Apple and Google.  What’s more, the competition for visibility on the crowded apps stores is only getting worse. Whatever you think of HTML5, it’s undeniable that it offers an alternative to all of this.”

Todd Anglin, Executive Vice President at Telerik, said that “Not only can HTML5 be a powerful technology for unlocking more you can do via the Web, but done right, HTML5 could be one of the valid approaches for solving some of the challenges that mobile is creating.”

But perhaps Anglin summarized best the current state of thought about mobile development platforms when he said that  “developers … are quickly realizing that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for their mobile development process.  The choice between native and hybrid approaches is dependent on business needs, app requirements, developer skill, development timeline, and other factors.”




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