• Web apps may develop a dangerous reputation because they bypass platform owner approval processes. The app store approval processes used for native apps allow platform vendors to institute thresholds of acceptable quality, security, privacy and other parameters that can then be validated and enforced through the approval process. As Web apps proliferate, some will undoubtedly give the genre a bad name. Independent app stores (such as Amazon’s) may emerge to fill the quality assurance gap.
• Web apps may use excessive bandwidth. Over time, developers are expected to become savvier with bandwidth, but the early days of casually constructed HTML5 apps may result in apps that do not leverage native platform features to minimize bandwidth.
For all the above reasons, native mobile application platforms are likely to remain the preferred approach to deliver application functionality for the majority of apps for some time to come. Web apps will, however, emerge as a second-tier alternative for delivering certain types of applications that do not, for example, require advanced device hardware, or that require user interfaces to be identical across devices. Web apps will also be leveraged heavily by mobile platforms such as BlackBerry and WebOS, which will find it easier to leverage the Web ecosystem of developers instead of creating a new one.
One important mobile platform that is expected to leverage HTML5 natively is Microsoft’s Windows 8, which is expected to ship in the second half of 2012.
Finally, Web apps may be attractive for enterprises as they begin to mobilize their application portfolios with an eye on a single strategic approach to target multiple mobile device platforms. Enterprises may well be mobilized into action by the arrival of new Windows 8 PCs.
All this is good news for Web developers who must learn HTML5 to harness the avalanche of new opportunities to come.
Al Hilwa is program director of application development software at IDC.