Native vs. HTML5: The Real World of the Mobile App Marketplace

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The native vs. HTML5 debate isn’t an academic exercise; it’s a real business decision for thousands of companies looking to kick their mobile application development into higher gear. (Or to get started in the first place). So it can be very helpful to review some of the actual numbers and see how things are shaking out in the real world of the mobile app marketplace.

It’s a world of multiple OSes. Eighty percent of the 3,600+ developers surveyed in Appcelerator/IDC’s Q2 2012 survey expressed the need to deploy their applications on more than one operating system. Yet, although HTML5 holds out a “write once – run anywhere” promise, most of the more than a million applications in production today are deployed on iOS, Android, or Microsoft systems. Just 6% are HTML5-based.

Distributed via the browser, HTML5 apps do not depend on an app store – in principle an advantage. But consumers in vast numbers have accepted app stores, the same way before the mobile revolution they accepted the iTunes Store. The numbers speak for themselves:

  • Apple’s app store has 400 million accounts, with credit card information stored for each user.
  • Consumers have downloaded 30 billion apps, and Apple has paid out over $5 billion to developers.
  • On the Android side, users download over 1.5 billion apps and games each month from Google Play.
  • Google Play makes more than 600,000 apps available.

Numbers help tell the story in another way, too. A key difference between app stores and HTML5 distribution is that the latter lacks an easy monetization model, just as HTML5 lacks an ecosystem of developers. HTML5 apps distributed via the browser do not have the unified backend, standardized pricing structure, or easily analyzed sales and distribution statistics an app store provides. Instead, each company, developer, or app inhabits its own silo of information, making it that much more difficult for an enterprise to optimize resources and zero in on its best opportunities.

Numbers and facts like those help explain numbers like this: We estimate there are roughly 1.25 million native applications versus 75,000 HTML5 applications [link phrase “1.25 million native versus 75,000 HTML5 applications” to Native vs. HTML5 whitepaper] in production today. And the ecosystem that has grown up around our Titanium mobile application development platform – which combines the flexibility of open source development technologies with the power of cloud services – includes 350,000 developers in over 185 countries. It’s a vast ecosystem attuned to the vision we’re devoted every day to fulfilling – our vision of inspiring, transformative mobile apps for life and business.