I've moderated and participated on a bunch of panels where the topic was something like "HTML5 vs. Native apps, which will win?" And I've always said that native apps aren't going away, and my co-founder Sean has often pointed out that HTML5 won't be replacing complied apps so long as mobile hardware is changing drastically every 6 months (HTML is a trailing standard that can't keep up with innovation on the hardware side).
But here's the real smoking gun:
The Facebook engineering team, in a blog post, writes, "we realized that when it comes to platforms like iOS, people expect a fast, reliable experience and our iOS app [that was heaving leveraging HTML5] was falling short."
This is really significant. Facebook has a lot of incredibly good reasons not to rebuild its app natively. Facebook doesn't want to be beholden to Apple for its distribution channel and access to its users. Facebook doesn't want to have to create and maintain completely different and incompatible codebases for various distribution channels. Facebook arguably has the very best web engineers on the planet. And yet they've moved away from a heavily dependent HTML5 strategy in mobile.
So for anyone saying they're going to completely move to HTML5 and stop (or not start) native app development, I say that approach will only work if:
1) You're only going to be a "fast follower" and not an innovator on mobile, and/or
2) The mobile channel isn't that important to you, meaning that things like in-app purchase (and other ways to package, monetize and distribute your content) aren't that important to you
If you think you can succeed where Facebook couldn't, I'd love to hear more about it.
Here's a great quote from a Vanity Fair article discussing Instagram's sale to Facebook:
So, the pair began to ruthlessly re-assess Burbn, eventually deciding to create a separate service under the tongue-in-cheek rubric of Codename. Crucially, they dumped slow-moving Web-site coding in favor of an app-only design, thereby throwing their lot in with the Apple iPhone 4, which had just been launched in June 2010.
"I think the biggest mistake we made in the last two years was betting to much on HTML5 instead of native." - Mark Zukerberg when asked about the biggest mistake he has made at FB.
Watch the interview live on disrupt tv http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/11/watch-techcrunch-disrupt-sf-live-2/
Yeah that's amazing and consistent with what the FB post above said. Douglas Crets of MSFT just wrote a great tweet about that very topic: "Are you hearing what Zuckerberg is saying "bringing people to apps" and interaction in apps @Socialize #tcdisrupt @themediacamp" The full convo is at https://twitter.com/Socialize/status/245638667769638912
Also let me take a minute to give YOU and Isaac some mad props for really championing the "native" vision since 2008! We made some big bets on native as a company with Socialize, and it was largely due to you guys having such a firm belief that the native distribution channel would be a really meaningful one.
Oops... posted my reply to the wrong post because I searched for native. Anyway, my friend at Mutual Mobile said that HTML5 was a better way to go because in the near future it would be about equal to native.
Tynan, I'd love to have your friend from Mutual Mobile join the convo here to get his/her full perspective.
I feel like I've heard that for a while. The problem is, by the time HTML5 catches up to native the goal post will have moved. Hardware is always changing and native seems to be the only way to have access to the latest and greatest hardware functionality/APIs.
Yeah, Tynan, it'd be really great to get your MutualMobile friend to weigh in directly.
As I wrote in the blog post (and Sam noted), so long as the hardware is changing so quickly, web will have an impossible time keeping up.
"near future equal to native" really equates to "equal to where native is *today*. But where will native be in the "near future"? Or to put it another way, it's also fair to say that the HTML of today is as capable as the native of 2 years ago was. And that's probably true in many respects -- for example, HTML5 can access the Lat + Long of a mobile device -- something that HTML couldn't do before HTML5 came out. But by the same token, native *today* does a lot more than it did 2 years ago. Every 6 months the hardware advances, and compiled, native code is the only way to keep up with those changes.
What it really comes down to is that while humans can see the past clearly, we can't see the future clearly at all. And because by nature we're blind to what the world will look like in 2 years, we can only project what we know today and try to imagine. But someone will invent something that nobody is expecting (Google Glasses, for example) that will change everything. and then HTML will have to catch up to that device's capabilities.
Let me also just mention that I'd love for HTML & web to be *the* standard. It would make life much easier for everyone. And for the desktop browser, that's the case, because the computer hasn't changed in 30 years; it's still a keyboard, a monitor and a mouse. But while mobile hardware is going through such rapid innovation, native is going to say an order of magnitude ahead of web.
Bring on the Android upgrade!! I'll 2nd and 3rd all the negative comments about their HTML5 "app" experience. Piss poor on their best days. Like, what have they been THINKING all this time?? I'm also constantly annoyed when I click a random Twitter link and have to sit and wait while their HTML5 app loads into my browser. I have a FULL featured browser, just give me the normal site so I can get on with my life! ... I've set my phone's default to just launch all Twitter-related links into my TweetCaster app ... ALWAYS faster.
I'll have to check TweetCaster out. Agreed re: sitting & waiting is the kiss of death.
Also, as I mentioned to Paul, don't be shy about posting any thoughts you have on any topics at www.DanielOdio.com/community -- I want to make this blog about the thoughts from a community of entrepreneurs, not just mine!
http://www.statenewslines.com/ As usual, you are dead on Daniel. HTML5 is a fast way to get mobile either directly via mobile responsive site or a more polished webapp site - and perfect if you need broad, fast adoption quickly.I agree with you and just find it amazing (and in reality quite practical) that a company with Facebook's talent and resources concluded they must deliver an IOS worthy experience. In the past few weeks, I've overheard more that one person say regarding FB on their iPhone - "it's just so slow and frustrating" - the new IOS app instantly brings a smile to their face because it is FAST and a bit more polished. It's amazing the standards that Apple has set for us all as far as our minimum expectations go... The bar is indeed higher, Facebook has lept over it - and so must the rest of us who are serious in serving IOS users...
There's long been a raging debate going over HTML vs. Native Apps. Just Googling the debate returns over 3.7 million results.
I'm here to tell you, that's the wrong way of thinking of things.
It's like debating whether oil or water will win when mixed. You can't get the right answer if you're asking the wrong question. While oil and water don't mix well, they can co-exist in the same bottle, and there are valid times you might want to use each.
Let's dive into the right way to think about mobile, and specifically about the role native apps will play. A better analogy of the mobile landscape is from the point of view of a car manufacturer like Honda. Honda makes a lot of Honda Accords -- they're its bread & butter. But for years, Honda had a Formula One team. A Honda Accord will never compete at the Formula One level, nor was it meant to. And conversely, if Honda only had a Formula One team, it wouldn't have the massive market share in the auto market that the Accord and other bread & butter models provide it, but Honda did learn a lot about how to make really great engines from its Formula One program.
In the same way, mobile apps are the "Formula One" of mobile, and HTML is the Honda Accord. You can get wide distribution across many phones by having a mobile HTML presence, but you can't do the sexy, progressive types of things that you can do with apps, because an app is typically compiled software which can leverage the specific hardware functionality of the phone (the camera, the address book, geolocation, the microphone, and many other things).
DO a search to investigate Windows RT 8 and you'd be presented with a common opinion amongst most quarters of the tech press when you see popular news sites presenting headlines like these
Headlines like these and reading this particularly scathing review of the device from Paul Thurrott amongst others where Windows RT is described as "(Windows RT) is simply too underpowered to provide a satisfactory experience." and "Windows RT does everything slowly. Everything. The day-to-day experience is terrible." anyone doing research about Windows RT would be forgiven for thinking Microsoft has released a bit of a dud here.
Well the truth is far from it, far from it if your expectations of what you are buying are set correctly and you have an understanding if what Windows RT is and is not...