Tactical Advice

HTML5 vs. Native Apps: The Battle for Mobile Supremacy

Two schools of thought in mobile app development wrestle for control of the market.
HTML5 vs. Native Apps: The Battle for Mobile Supremacy
Credit: iStock/ThinkStockPhotos

Netscape vs. Internet Explorer, desktops vs. notebooks, Apple vs. PC. As the next great tech battle heats up, the question hangs in the balance: Will this struggle be written in native app code or HTML5? Which format will win out in the mobile app development conflict? Will it be read on an iPhone or an Android device? In the short term, it appears that native apps have the upper hand, but eventually the war might be won by HTML5.

BI Intelligence, a research and analysis service from Business Insider, recently shared some interesting analysis on this heated clash. Mobile users, an enormous and growing market, currently favor using native apps that they download to their phones over web-based apps that are accessed through a web browser. The majority of users spend far more time interacting with their native apps. They typically spend only about 20 percent of their device time using the browser.

But HTML5 is now on the attack. It was developed to work across all mobile platforms and browsers: Android, iOS, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera, Apple and Windows. Developers like HTML5 because it utilizes familiar coding languages (HTML, JavaScript, CSS) and enterprises back HTML5 because app development costs go down when you only have to create a single app, rather than one to run on Android and one for iOS.

HTML5 has an uphill battle. These apps don’t work well offline, are slower and less secure than native apps. And distribution is still an open question, as HTML5 apps don’t have a convenient Play or App Store for consumers to embrace them.

For now, native apps are winning the battle. But similar to how the web has ditched Adobe Flash in favor of HTML5 alternatives, HTML5 is likely to win the war.

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