Gettin' Crafty

A Blog written by the team at Application Craft - the Visual IDE people

September 13, 2012 by Freddy May


  • html5
  • mark zuckerberg
  • native


What Mark Zuckerberg Really Said About HTML5

What Mark Zuckerberg Really Said About HTML5

Let's take a quick look at the attention grabbing headline that was issued for maximum publicity rather than maximum fact: Mark Zuckerberg called Facebook's HTML5 app

One of the biggest mistakes if not the biggest strategic mistake that we made.

Before you stop reading (and thinking), let's look at what else he said in the same speech.

It's not that HTML5 is bad. I'm actually, long-term, really excited about it. One of the things that's interesting is we actually have more people on a daily basis using mobile Web Facebook than we have using our iOS or Android apps combined. So mobile Web is a big thing for us.

The decision two years ago to build their mission-critical apps using HTML5 was a bad one, yes. Two years ago this was true for all companies IF: a) your company stands to live or die by one app b) you have extremely picky consumer users (as opposed to employee users for example) and c) you have a generous budget. If you said yes to a, b and c, then native is, for the time being, the way to go.

But the technology is changing fast and HTML5 today offers an app experience that is much closer to native than two years. And the truth of the matter is, most B2B apps and even certain consumer apps don't live under the demands of a Facebook app. Most apps today:

  1. Need to run on Android, iOS and perhaps soon Windows Phone and for each platform you want to support you have to code it completely differently when building a native app. Can you REALLY afford this? P.S. Don't forget to add in the maintenance costs.

  2. Are built with tight budgets. We estimate there is about a 15% difference in app performance with native, over HTML5. A gap that is shrinking fast. That 15% is often important for games and CPU intensive apps, but not all the rest.

  3. Are not the only app. Most organizations need more than one app. In fact, we see that formerly desktop-bound software is now increasingly built as a mobile app for increasingly mobile professional. Many of our corporate clients are building dozens of apps each year for their customers, sales, finance and marketing teams. In these cases, speed of development is hugely important, cost is a determining factor, and native just isn't an option.

  4. Are built by developers that that are not experts in both Objective-C and Java. Very few developers have that skill level in multiple languages and therefore cannot quickly build multiple apps for different platforms.

Finally, a look at the future - time is on the side of HTML5. Smartphone performance is accelerating and HTML5 implementations are getting more and more sophisticated. In a couple of years, the differences between HTML5 and native apps will be negligible in all but the most extreme conditions.

So let's all agree that headlines implying HTML5 is dead are absurd. HTML5 apps will dominate before too long. I will stake my reputation and my company on it.

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