Sometimes I can’t help myself. After spending years in the trenches as a reporter, any time I see three or more information blurbs about a technology or a company, I immediately think of it as a trend. This time, I’m making a somewhat obvious observation—well, obvious for most of our readers, at the very least—that a set of technologies collectively known as HTML5 is finally starting to gain a lot of momentum. To me, that’s a good thing.
In the last month or so, we’ve seen some major services relaunch their websites for the iPhone, iPad, and other tablets based on HTML5 and bring them to the mainstream users—so much so that even giants such as Microsoft are ready to cast aside their own technologies in favor of HTML5.
Google, whose apps keep getting better and better, is clearly leading the HTML5 charge. If that wasn’t enough, in July, Pandora relaunched its website for tablets. Earlier this month, Twitter launched an HTML5-based Web client that’s as fantastic as the dedicated app itself.
On Wednesday, August 10, Amazon launched Kindle Cloud Reader, which is so good, writes our Darrell Etherington, that "you’d be hard-pressed to tell that you aren’t using a native app, especially if you place a shortcut to the Web app on your iPad’s home screen." Vudu, owned by Wal-Mart, launched an HTML5 version of its Web app. As we had previously noted, "more than 2.1 billion mobile devices will have HTML5 browsers by 2016, up from just 109 million in 2010, according to a new report by ABI Research."
Web Apps Driven to Avoid App Store
I find it ironic that when the iPhone first launched in 2007, the whole idea was that mobile would help reinvent the Web, but those Web apps never really materialized. Four years later, that very same idea could become a drain on Apple’s booming app business as companies deploy Web apps to avoid Apple’s 30-percent cut of the revenue for apps and content.
That said, I don’t think HTML 5 and dedicated apps are mutually exclusive. Website operators have to come to the realization that they need to be tablet-ready to provide a seamless experience for their customers. The closer they can bring the app and browser-based experience to each other, the better it is. Pandora and Twitter have done a good job of providing a somewhat consistent experience across different browsers and apps. One hopes this will get easier and more commonplace.
In a post, Why HTML5 Web Apps Are Going to Rock Your World, Simon Mackie said: "As technologies like HTML5, CSS3, SVG, and WebGL start to become more mainstream, not only will the Web apps we already use become more useful, but we should also see developers building Web apps that do things that previously could have only been done by desktop applications. It’s an exciting time to be working on the Web, both for the developers of Web apps, who have a plethora of new technologies and techniques to experiment with, and for users of those apps."
Also from GigaOM:
Why ‘Web vs. Native’ Isn’t Really Black and White (subscription required)