Welcome back! As you’ll recall, in Part 1 of this series we introduced the importance of mobility and how it is changing all sectors of society. We saw that the enormous growth in this market is fueled especially by the “consumerization of software.” Mobile applications are the major driver behind this trend and also the engine behind the growth of smartphones and tablets. With this background in mind, let’s take a closer look at HTML5 to understand what it is and how it has emerged in recent years as the icon of the new open mobile web.
HTML5 and the Open Mobile Web
Because it is by nature an open web standard, HTML5 is seen positively by many as the platform of choice for the open web initiative, which is heralded especially by Mozilla Firefox. HTML5 offers a way for developers to create apps that can compete head to head with native applications by using features such as geolocation, offline caching, web storage, canvas and CSS3 transitions among many others.
HTML5 continues to experience tremendous growth in popularity among developers in recent years. The low barriers to entry to playing in the mobile app development sandbox make HTMLT5 a good choice for many businesses as well: open source, relatively easy to learn, a powerful user interface for designing sleek and intuitive websites, and lower cost and less development time.
HTML5 vs. Native: Why it Ultimately Doesn’t Matter
Due to the immense growth and emerging popularity of HMTL5, an ideological war of sorts has emerged in recent years between HTML5 and Native approaches. Countless articles have been written about why this matters, while others even debate if there’s still anything to debate. The way Native works in a nutshell is that a specific programming language (Java for Android, Objective C for iOS, C# for Windows) is used to code native applications, they are made to work with a specific mobile platform (eg. Android, iOS, Windows, etc), and the apps are downloaded from an App store. While Native may provide an overall richer, faster, and more secure Mobile Web experience, HTML5 has made considerable strides in providing consumers with a “good enough” look and feel at a fraction of the cost for development.
And as far as the HTML5 vs. Native debate itself is concerned, some would suggest that it’s no more than a meeting meme that gets propagated endlessly throughout the industry. But seriously, stop and ask yourself for a moment, “Why does it have to be an either-or proposition?” The truth of the matter is that mobile is moving to multiple endpoints and form factors that require an elastic infrastructure to support. Companies that discern this trend are also beginning to adopt an “all of the above” approach that gives the flexibility to choose the right application type to meet the business needs of the customer. This strategy offers a sound alternative to the traditional HTML5 vs. Native meme and reminds us that the answers often reside somewhere in the middle rather than at the extremes of an “either-or” perspective.
To progress towards a more organic understanding of mobile application development we need to grasp the merits of each of the major approaches currently discussed in the market. Once we arrive at a clearer understanding of each approach, we’ll be able to better delineate and determine the complexities of formulating a clear mobile strategy and why, ultimately, this strategy is driven more by customer needs than a monolithic technology choice.
In the next part of this series we’re going to continue our discussion of HTML5 by focusing on specific strategies that organization leaders should adopt in order to quickly move the needle on their mobile strategy.