html5 app development

In my last blog I noted that, growing pains aside, the trend toward HTML5 for app development is unmistakable. In this post I’d like to share evidence of this growing support in six crucial tech industry segments: gaming (Zynga, playMobi), digital media and analytics (Adobe, Flurry), monetization (PaymentOne, appMobi), social media (Facebook), web browsers (Mozilla), and search (Bing, Google).

GAME ON

Popular social network game developer Zynga’s Germany branch is one of the global leaders in HTML5 development for gaming. Currently, Zynga has four HTML5-based games on the market:Words With Friends, FarmVille Express, Zynga Poker Mobile Web and CityVille Express. For the user, these games are all but indistinguishable from native apps, with similar load times and responsiveness. In a recent interview with ReadWrite Mobile, Zynga Germany’s CTO Paul Bakaus explained why they are so bullish about HTML5:

“Every decision we make on tech is really to connect people through our games….HTML5 gives us a lot of advantages that native and Flash programs just cannot give us. The cross-platform aspect of it, bringing the game to many people on different platforms is really what is killing it (NB to the over-thirty reader: ‘killing it’ is an idiomatic expression meaning ‘really doing well’) for us. Also, usually you would have to port an existing game that runs on Web and native to smartphones and tablets and maybe something else as well. We don’t have to do with that HTML5 and that is super exciting”

He admitted that for gaming, HTML5 is still rough around the edges, having some sound and scrolling issues to work through. However, Bakaus then noted, “there is so much more we can do already in HTML5 and I think the only thing left is developers jumping on it and trying not to be scared away. I think now is the time to build games.”

SHOW ME THE MONEY

One concern in the developer community regarding HTML5 is monetization: as a developer, if I create a nifty mobile web app, how do I get paid? Native app providers like Apple and Android pay developers a healthy percentage of app sales. In order for developers to embrace HTML5 mobile web apps, they need a reliable payment collection mechanism.

Enter companies like PaymentOne, an international direct to carrier billing service that on February 21st released an HTML5 API for mobile web app and game developers. According to the press release on their website, “HTML5 is enjoying strong momentum in the market, emerging as the fastest growing platform for developers seeking a richer experience for their games and apps. HTML5 solves fragmentation challenges with the ability to develop once and reach all platforms while avoiding the walled garden restrictions that characterize the traditional platform-specific app stores.”

The press release also quotes Brad Signer, PaymentOne EVP, as saying “HTML5 makes every device a potential commerce opportunity for developers of games and apps. The rise of HTML5 means developers can easily expand their reach across platforms, and the PayOne HTML5 API lets developers build once and monetize everywhere via the open Web.”

Other companies have also created monetization options for mobile web app developers. HTML5 development studio appMobi has come out with playMobi, a cross-platform HTML5 based game kit for app developers. In response to the growing industry demand for HTML5 apps, expect more companies to recognize the opportunity and create payment modules for developers.¹

ANALYZE THIS

In early February, mobile analytics and monetization platform Flurry jumped into the fray by announcing a beta software development kit for tracking HTML5 mobile web apps. Flurry supports five other mobile platforms, including iOS, Android and Windows Phone. By way of explanation, Flurry refers to a recent survey by Kony showing that 74% of Fortune 500 companies are planning on some type of HTML5 integration in the near future.²

And so it goes with digital media. In November, software giant Adobe announced plans to mothball its Flash software and shift focus to HTML5. Flash is a type of software called “middleware,” an add-on extension to the browser that allows rich content like video and games to be viewed. HTML5, by contrast, allows developers to embed content directly into a website without the need for middleware.²

html5 knockout flash

As a rapidly growing number of users browse the Web on their smartphones and tablets, websites have been gradually moving away from Flash. Adobe VP and GM of Interactive Development Danny Winokur wrote in a recent blog, “HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively.  This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms.”

SOCIAL TIME

HTML5 is even reaching into the social sphere. In October of 2011, Facebook extended its social platform onto mobile, bringing all of its social channels to mobile apps and websites. Given that over 350 million people use Facebook every month on a mobile device, this was a significant move. According to Facebook, roughly half of its mobile users access the social network through the web and half use native apps.

Announcing the move on its official developer blog, Facebook’s Luke Shepard noted “social apps are all about interacting with your friends so the best social apps will be on both native iOS and web apps, and we encourage you to think about how to reach the total audience of Facebook users by building both.”

Later on in the post, he had this to say, “If you’re building a mobile web app, you can leverage HTML5 to build an app that works across all modern devices….we have worked closely with some leading developers to create great new mobile web apps and we’re just getting started…most of these apps are built using HTML5, providing an experience that seamlessly works across iOS, Android, and other mobile devices.”

Even the leading social network is evangelizing HTML5 for mobile web development.

JUST BROWSING

The non-profit Mozilla Foundation (creator of the Firefox web browser) is signaling its support for HTML5 by opening up the Mozilla Marketplace, the first operating system/device-independent market for apps based on open-web technologies like HTML5, JavaScript and CSS. Mozilla is accepting mobile web app submissions from developers at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.³

The idea of the Mozilla Marketplace is to create an app store model for HTML5 apps that can work on any HTML5-compatible device. Mozilla is also rolling out a new Internet-based identity system that ties apps to the user and not the device or platform, allowing users to access their mobile web apps anywhere a browser is present. With the newly-minted Marketplace, Mozilla is positioning itself to be the go to resource for developers who want to showcase their mobile web apps. The Mozilla Marketplace will be available to consumers later in 2012.³

SEARCH ME

In November Microsoft’s Bing for Mobile opened its arms to HTML5. On its community blog, Bing announced the release of the new Bing for Mobile app for iPhone and Android, promising to add more devices in the near future. The blog went on to say, “today’s update uses HTML5 to blend the mobile browse experience with the app experience so you get a consistent and fast mobile search experience whether you’re using m.bing.com from your browser or the Bing app. Using HTML5, our goal is to build a mobile experience that leverages the unique capabilities of the different platforms including camera support and voice search, while making the functions the apps can provide consistent across the platforms…”

Google’s enthusiasm for HTML5 is personified in its sponsored website HTML5 Rocks. The first line of the intro section of the “why HTML5” tab pretty much sums up Google’s take on HTML5:

“Fast. Secure. Responsive. Interactive. Stunningly beautiful. These are words that were not associated with the web until HTML5.”

Here’s another snippet: “HTML5 is broadly supported on all modern desktop browsers and major mobile devices. No other technology can offer the same ubiquity…. So why HTML5? With a reach of hundreds of millions of users (Google Chrome alone has more than 200 million active users)—and growing rapidly—the question is, why not HTML5”

You really can’t get more enthusiastic than that.

EMERGING MARKET

When taking together, this data suggests that the emergence of HTML5 for app development is beyond dispute; HTML5 is on track to be a force in mobile web development in particular and app development generally. But why are the various players investing so heavily in HTML5? How will its broad adoption affect the mobile app landscape?

Source: Business2Community

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