Lesson learned: native wins, HTML loses

We are now witnessing the coming of a new era. 

The internet without the web.

Read it again.

The holy grail of the internet developers, the only multi-platform technology than can reliably run everywhere, including them shiny iOS devices – HTML (and HTML5 in particular) is losing battle against a bunch of proprietary SDKs like Objective C, Java ME, and Silverlight. You can’t even call these a programming language!

The mobile development is all the rage now, and apparently for many years to come. The number of mobile devices is going through the roof and all of a sudden, a tablet is going to be enough of a computer for 95% of the users. And if you develop for mobile, you don’t want HTML5 for many reasons:

– if you need access to camera, notifications, or run in the background;

– if you need the app to look good and have decent performance;

– if you need to make money from the app, like charge for it;

– if you need the users to somehow find you app.

Right now, almost any HTML mobile app is a joke comparing to its native counterpart. And because the mobile apps are not scarce (they stopped counting the AppStore when it reached 400,000) the users will choose only the best apps with the best user experience. If you read it as “the users will choose only the native apps” you read it right.

Funny enough, Google, which is supposed to push HTML5 the most is not doing the job very well. Their Chrome OS, built around HTML5 and web apps is virtually non-existent. While Android is very alive and is flourishing with native apps at accelerating pace.

So, when people stop buying computers and stop going to the web sites from their mobile devices, the web will again become a hacker thing. Remember Gopher? Look it up here, if you haven’t ever seen it.



2 Responses to Lesson learned: native wins, HTML loses

  1. Nikita Leonov says:

    There are several assumptions done in an article that is not totally right. By wrapping HTML application into native container following items can be solved:
    * if you need to make money from the app, like charge for it;
    * if you need the users to somehow find you app.

    With use the same approach — bridge between native and web application can be build so container for an HTML app will provide access to low level functions such as camera and notifications and will allow to run application in background.

    The real challenges of HTML development now are following:
    * Mimic of native components behavior in fake web components — can be solved by an big amount of continuos efforts or can be avoided by not implementing native-like components.
    * Performance — will be solved shortly in time by increasing CPU power (X cores CPUs in mobile etc.)

    • Oleg Kokorin says:

      I think that technique of wrapping HTML into native containers totally proves that HTML lost. The whole premise of HTML is that you write it once and it runs anywhere without any changes. It kinda works for many things. Take gmail. It runs in any browser (I know there are a lot of JS in it too). It works satisfactory, but only because it runs on a huge screen with a mouse pointer. Once you put this app to a tiny screen where you have to use your finger instead of mouse, any native mail app will give a much better user experience.

      So HTML won’t be dead in a sense that nobody will use it. It will be embedded into native apps, but only because it’s a cheap way to churn out simple GUI – not a glorious fate in any way.

      Also, I disagree on the increasing CPU power will solve anything for HTML, JavaScript, and Flash. First, the battery life is a huge factor in user experience for mobile devices, and CPU power comes at cost of battery life. Second, the device size is very important too. Everybody is trying to make their device smaller. iPad2 is smaller than iPad. It’s hard to pack a lot of CPU cores and battery cells into ever-shrinking devices. This trio (HTML, JavaScript, Flash) is just not meant for mobile. When the devices will be powerful enough (in several years), everybody will forget about these ancient (by that time) technologies.

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