The Mobile Enterprise Debate: HTML5 vs. Native

Fresk leaves invoking a happy mood.

No matter how you look at it, developing mobile apps can be a confusing, resource-intensive process for the enterprise.  Whie mobile provides enterprises with an unprecedented opportunity to transform their relationships and build towards competitive advantage, companies need to reimagine their business model from a mobile- first view.  Of course, this leads to the HTML5 vs. Native debate.

The reality of Native and HTML5 apps: Even though HTML5 holds out such a promise, the vast majority of mobile apps on the market today are native device-specific apps.

The reality of waiting for HTML5 to save the day: HTML5 is governed by a slow-moving standards body, while the bar of what users expect from their apps is rising constantly and rapidly. Standards bodies deliberate and make decisions slowly and carefully; they have to, even under the best conditions. HTML5, the most pertinent example, has been under development for years, while plagued by controversies and disagreements among the engineers responsible. W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium) is now planning to release the standard as a Recommendation by the end of 2014.

The native app reality: The gen mobile developers of today need to move and react fast.  New technologies and APIs are coming out all the time.  Users demand beautiful, simple and delightful apps that work well and take advantage of the latest technological capabilities to improve their personal and professional lives, Apple and Google continue to deliver new releases of iOS and Android each year, with thousands of new APIs. Developers can create native apps that make use of a mobile device’s capabilities directly from the operating system (camera, geo-location, animation, etc.). Such device-specific functionalities add to the richness of the user experience, and users now expect this as the norm.

Maybe someday HTML5 will create a rich user experience.  Just not today:  By contrast, the HTML5 standard, while it has delivered some native-like capabilities of late (e.g. access to GPS location and the accelerometer), does not produce that same rich and speedy user experience on iPhones or Android devices.

If it comes down to a choice between making life somewhat easier for developers by means of a standard like HTML5, vs. giving users/customers what they want and expect, then it looks like the old phrase “the customer is always right” isn’t so out-of-fashion after all.

Download Native vs. HTML5: Which Approach is Better for Mobile Application Development white paper – and learn more about the roots of this mobile debate.