July 21, 2011

HTML5 to Create New Wave of Opportunities in Mobile Landscape

Industry experts anticipate that HTML5 will have a significant impact on the Internet and the way in which we develop, generate and consume data, content and other information. The upcoming DevCon5 event is primarily focused on HTML5, and in preparation for the event, TMC CEO Rich Tehrani (NewsAlert) recently spoke with Scott Snyder, president and chief strategy officer for Mobiquity. Snyder believes that HTML5 will add more expressive semantics and richer applications capabilities to the Web.

As for the impact HTML5 will have on enterprise IT development, Snyder noted that HTML-apps are sure to be the only approach to enterprise application development that is feasible within a platform fragmented environment. Media companies will face new opportunities with plug-in free and fully customizable videos, as well as solutions for video discovery that is accessible, localized and text-based. Start-ups will thrive on the innovation, and other organizations will benefit from the lower costs associated with HTML5. For the mobile application, HTML5 will only enhance use, making phones more valuable to the user as they will be always on and always connected.

Security risks could exist with HTML5, according to Snyder, especially if end users, developers or browser vendors diverge from best practices. As for its impact on Web design, HTML5 will demand a closer look not just at pages, but the transition between pages and the movement of elements within a page. Snyder also believes that HTML5 will skyrocket into adoption. As for his presentation at DevCon5, Snyder will focus on the next wave of opportunities that will be created in mobile accelerated by technologies such as HTML5.

Their entire conversation is provided below:

1. How will HTML5 Change the Internet?

HTML5 and related technologies (e.g., CSS3 and JavaScript) add more expressive semantics and richer application capabilities to the web. These two improvements will increase the quality and quantity of machine-to-machine communication, and accelerate the blurring of the lines between desktop and web software.

For example, prior to HTML5 the term “offline webapp” would have been an oxymoron. This is no longer the case. HTML5 supports a number of client-side storage mechanisms that can be leveraged to create web apps and web sites that continue to function whether they have a connection to the internet or not.

2. What impact will HTML5 have on IT development in enterprises and other businesses?

As the consumerization of IT continues and more and more companies adopt “bring your own device” policies, IT departments are going to be faced with massive platform fragmentation. In many (perhaps most) cases, HTML-based apps will be the only feasible approach to enterprise application development in this sort of environment.

3. What new opportunities will HTML5 present for media companies, start-ups and other organizations?

1) Media Companies

There are a number of features centered on the new video in HTML5 that should be of interest to media companies. Here are a three:

  • Videos can be rendered natively in the need for browser, which means no plug-ins are required. This is particularly relevant for platforms that do not support Flash.
  • Videos can be styled just like any other element of a web page, including the controls. This allows media companies to create a fully customized and brand appropriate experience for their users.
  • Browser vendors are working on support for captions and subtitles that can be tied to specific points throughout a video. Once this feature is rolled out, it will open up a new world of possibilities for accessibility, localization, and text-based video discovery.

2) Start-ups

Start-ups are all about innovation, and right now the fertile ground for innovation is at the intersection of industries. For example, maybe there’s a game changing idea involving the healthcare and entertainment industries. Or retail sales and energy. Or financial services and fine dining.

HTML5 make it easier to identify cross-domain synergies because it is more expressive semantically than HTML4. In other words, machines can gain a deeper understanding of data that is marked up with HTML5. As HTML5 works its way into the fabric of the Web, it will be easier to programmatically analyze and mashup publicly available data between two unrelated industries in hopes of revealing new opportunities and unlocking hidden value.

3) Other organizations

"Other organizations" is pretty general, so I’ll arbitrarily pick NGOs an area of focus.

HTML5 and related technologies are free. Web browsers are free. Thanks to Amazon’s EC2 and similar cloud providers, hosting services are practically free. 3G connectivity is rolling out all over the world.

Now that HTML5 has support for creation of rich desktop-like application experiences (e.g., offline capabilities, UI animations, etc.), the cost of creating and distributing a compelling application to a global audience has never been lower. Non-profits with a global cause and a couple of web developers can now potentially improve the quality of life for the folks they serve for pennies per person.

4. What about mobile? Will adoption and use of these devices change as a result of the transition to HTML5?

Smartphone adoption will continue to skyrocket with or without HTML5. That said, the most used single app is the browser. As HTML5 support continues to make its way into mobile browsers and HTML5 markup proliferates across the web, the phones themselves will increase in value because they have become an "always on, always connected" doorway into a vast, rich space.

The question that most people ask regarding HTML5 on mobile is about the web vs. native debate (i.e., whether consumption of native apps slow in favor of HTML5 apps). I think this is a false dichotomy. I predict that in the distinction between native apps and web apps on mobile will eventually fade away.

5. Will HTML5 improve security or make things worse?

Although there is nothing inherently insecure about HTML5, there are a lot of security related concerns that are raised by HTML5 and the ecosystem of related technologies. For example, HTML5’s Web Storage supports persistent client-side storage of key/value pairs in the browser sandbox. In situations where end users, application developers, or browser vendors diverge from best practices, it is possible that sensitive data could inadvertently be leaked to hackers.

6. HTML5 allows the easier creation of rich multimedia content.  How does this change the way designers create pages and will each page need its own storyboard?

For years, web design has taken its cues from print design. This has been changing over the years, but with the addition of animations to CSS3, the issue has come to a head. The print design paradigm is no longer sufficient to describe the rich interactive animations that users have come to expect from web sites and web apps. This means that in addition to sketching out the pages, designers need to sketch out the transitions between the pages, and the movements of elements within a page. 

7. Given the fact Facebook, Microsoft (News Alert) and the gaming industry are embracing HTML5, is there any doubt it will be embraced by all?

As our lives become more and more filled with screens, there is no doubt that HTML5 will skyrocket in adoption. From smartphones to interactive retail signage, from in-dash navigation applications to internet-enabled refrigerators, HTML5 (and related web technologies) will dominate the landscape because its designers have stuck a pragmatic balance between simplicity, power, and cost.

8. What will delegates learn from you at HTML5 conference DevCon5 this July 27-28, 2011 in New York?

My session will focus on where the next wave of opportunities will be created in mobile accelerated by emerging technologies like HTML5, where the investment is going, and some examples of start-up companies in these new, hot spaces.  I will also address different innovation models being used to seed investment and incubate new ventures in these areas by both institutional investors and corporations. 

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell


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