A company named dotMobi ran a survey that returned some interesting results on major Internet players and their mobile sites. Between 2008 and this year, the the number of mobile sites has rose from 150,000 to 3.01 million. First of all, that is amazing growth. We have all been a part of a mobile industry explosion, and the web reflects that. Browsing mobile sites versus full sites via mobile browser makes a huge difference in data usage, time spent browsing, and ease of use and it's about to get a lot better. The more openly available HTML5 becomes, the more functionality we are going to see out of mobile Web apps and pages. dotMobi’s Director of Engineering, Ronan Cremin stated:
"As more tools come to market and HTML5 support spreads, mobile Web apps will displace most ‘native’ apps. Brands can now build a single mobile Web presence that works across all mobile devices without the limitations, costs and maintenance issues of multiple app platforms. The mobile Web lets you address all of your mobile customers, not just those with iPhones and Android handsets."
Now, you may recall a time back in May when TweetDeck announced that they would make an HTML based cross-platform app. This is exactly what Cremin is talking about, and this is just the beginning. Developers will be able to create one single Web app rather than developing an application in multiple languages for three, four, or even five different mobile platforms. With multiple mobile platforms relying on application support, this could possibly level the playing field and place the fate of said platforms on their own potential, not those developing the applications for them. Also, we're seeing a massive surge of tablets heading to the market. Having cross-platform applications on any tablet you can purchase will make weighing your tablet purchase less of a headache as they may all have nearly the same application support.
Not all applications will go the way of Web apps, as you won't have access to your hardware sensors through them, they can be slow in some practices, and they aren't ideal for every type of app, but many will have the option. I'm no expert on HTML5 or its capabilites, and I'm not a mobile app developer, but I know this is huge for the industry. I also know that a lot of people aren't extremely enthused about the mobile app market going the way of Web apps, but from what I've heard from some developers, in most cases, you won't even know you're using a Web app versus a native app. The capabilities of Web apps are limited at this time but are ever-improving with the advancements of HTML5. If you're a little hazy on the differences between native and Web apps, check out this comparison chart.
Personally, I believe it's great great move for the industry. I plan to dive into app development once I gain a little more coding knowledge, and I would like to have my application on multiple platforms. This seems like the ideal way to do that, though not everyone will be happy either way. It's funny to think back five years ago when I would get excited over having five or six (un)cool apps installed on my BlackBerry and my friends would say things like, "Whoa! You can do that?" Now we're talking about hundreds of thousands of applications and now possibly moving cross-platform with them. I'm interested to see what will become of the application surge in the next few years, the expansion in the capabilities of the computers we carry in our pockets, and whether or not tablets will prove to be as useful as we want to believe they are. What do you guys and gals think? Since I have only half-knowledge on the issue, could it be better? Are HTML5 and Web apps a good move for the mobile world?