August 26, 2013

Reports of HTML5’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated Despite Native Apps’ Popularity

Recent surveys indicate that the majority of smartphone users prefer native apps developed specifically for their device over HTML5 apps. In spite of this data, other indicators show that HTML5 will be a popular platform in the future.

Business Intelligence recently published a report finding that 87 percent of U.S. consumer time is spent using native apps. An infographic by Techahead shows similar domination, with 80 percent of users’ time spent on native apps.

A graph produced by BI sends a mixed message of what platform developers surveyed in July plan to adopt. Thirty-five percent of developers in the survey indicated that they would adopt Microsoft (News Alert). The other platforms were as follows: Blackberry (28 percent), iOS (26 percent), Android (22 percent) and HTML5 (21 percent). Since the percentages add to more than 100 percent, clearly development teams are hedging bets by supporting more than one platform. 

Image via Shutterstock

Another factor working in native apps’ favor is that it wins the battle in monetization. There really isn’t any equivalent to the Apple App Store or Google (News Alert) Play for HTML5, and there probably never will be, since HTML5 apps have to be run in a browser. Making money would have to be done the same way as many web sites do: with subscriptions or advertising.

To borrow a sports adage, native apps at the moment have scoreboard. Another adage, however, suggests that the game is far from over.

Since HTML5 apps run from the browser, it does not matter whether they are on iOS, Android (NewsAlert) or Blackberry. There would be only one code set to maintain. They can be installed as icons in any mobile OS environment, so the functionality from a user standpoint is not radically different from a native app. In Techahead’s infographic, over three-fourths of developers in the survey strongly agreed that HTML5 can be used to create apps.

So which platform will win out? As far as predictions go, it depends on a lot of factors. Does the solution need to be cross-platform or can it be developed with different code bases? How important is speed and having a rich user interface?

Commercial app developers will likely prefer to support native apps because it’s more lucrative.

Enterprises will likely prefer HTML5 because it will probably cost less to support, be simpler to manage and because they usually don’t sell software, the monetization considerations with apps don’t apply.

One thing is certain: it is way too early to declare HTML5 down for the count.

Edited by Alisen Downey


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