I was looking for writing inspiration recently and came across "A Pep Talk" by Kid President. Don't ask me to explain. You'll have to watch the video, like the 28-million-plus other viewers. Kid hits upon the famous Robert Frost poem, "The Road Not Taken," and he reports that the road less traveled "hurts, man." He would much rather take what he calls "the road to awesome."
What does this have to do with mobile computing? Well, I was thinking that the road less traveled could easily represent native Android and iOS development. This road hurts, so not many enterprises have gone down that path. I was wondering whether there might be an alternative. Then I heard about Amazon adding HTML5 apps to its app store and realized we can now hit the awesome road with HTML5.
With Amazon opening up the door to HTML5 apps, the time has come for people to stop fighting and realize that there's a mobile app development alternative. Many have talked about 2013 being the year of BYOD. I'm looking forward to 2014 as being the year of HTML5.
As the number of mobile devices soars and the diversity of platforms remains constant, developers must understand that their best option for getting their products into the hands of the most people is through cross-platform development. The protests will sound familiar: "HTML5 just doesn't give me what I want." But is it what the developer wants or what people want on their devices that matters?
[ Want to hear the counter argument for native apps? Read Mobile BI: Native App Or Browser? ]
Users want choice, they want availability and they want their experiences to be portable. This is going to hold true whether they are on their phone, their desktop or on their wearable devices of the future. The native vs. HTML5 battle is not unlike the Beta vs. VHS saga of the 1980s and Microsoft's proprietary VBscript vision that never really took off in the '90s as they hoped. Open platforms will always win out over proprietary platforms and HTML5 is no exception.
Jeff Bezos isn't the only one who sees the future in HTML5. Intel is now getting into the game. "You're going to see applications that exploit screen real estate in a way that we haven't seen before... For us, the developer economics are compelling," said Intel's Michael Richmond, senior architect in the company's Open Source Technology Center, in a recent article.
Richmond hits the nail on the head, as the economic comparison is stunning. Developing OS-specific apps is daunting from a cost perspective. There are different sets of expertise involved, disparate graphical layouts and inflated support costs. Ask anyone in manufacturing the best way to streamline operations and cut costs and they'll tell you it's to standardize. That's what HTML5 allows the developer community to do. Standardize on an open platform and distribute to the masses.
Still skeptical? Think about how a standardized approach worked out for Henry Ford. He was a pioneer of the road to awesome.