HTML5 or Apps? Or, does it matter?

A recent Business Insider report tries to make a horsey race out of HTML5 vs Native Apps on mobile devices. And really, it is a silly argument. All of its “evidence,” which points to HTML5 as the “winner,” is based on the fact that HTML5 is more FREEly accessible and that there are no cumbersome monetization or distribution issues (read: Apple) to contend with.

 
Chart in BI report on HTML5 adoption
Chart in BI report on HTML5 adoption

 
Free vs. you have to invest in developers to create an app and pay someone to distribute it. Go figure that HTML5 is popular. But here’s the thing: HTML5 is a language — and an app — is packaged software. Companies are choosing the language of HTML5 (and augmenting with Java) because the end product can be freely distributed over the inter-webs. The native apps are actually pieces of software that run on the operating system of the phone IOS for Apple products, Symbian for Nokia, etc, and has to be distributed. So you need to make a different app to run on each device. Annoying for app makers yes. But what those apps deliver is a far cry from where HTML5 is today, for while much improved (and perfectly perfect for probably 80 percent of companies), it can’t do everything.

There are branding, business, technical resources and performance issues that will keep Native Apps in business for a long, long time. In fact, truth to tell, the native apps are the labs for what becomes an HTML5 standard. As new features appear on apps, standards bodies look to incorporate them in HTML5 (although it remains to be seen if having having two standards bodies will create two versions — but that’s for another post). As Ben Forta, director of developer relations at Adobe, which makes tools for developers to write HTML5-based content told the Financial Times, “HTML5 has been seen as the answer to all of mankind’s woes and that was never the intent.”

The real issue in the delivery of content wars, is whether or not content is accessible to be found, assembled and packaged. And that is a data and database issue — not a delivery one.