Mobile Commerce

Evaluating the HTML5 Approach

According to IBM, 75% of Fortune 500 companies are taking steps to deploy HTML5 mobile apps.

Now that we’ve taken a look at the pros and cons of native apps, let’s examine another approach, HTML5.

HTML5 apps run in a web browser but behave like native apps. Historically the HTML5 approach has been the primary rival of native.

According to IBM, 75% of Fortune 500 companies are taking steps to deploy HTML5 mobile apps.

Clearly it’s a popular approach. But does the HTML5 approach make sense for your enterprise? There are a number of factors to consider when evaluating its suitability.

Pros of the HTML5 Approach

Time and Resource Constraints

Taking a broad device approach is essential for both consumer and employee facing apps. HTML5 allows for a single codebase, so developers can write code once and deploy it on multiple platforms quickly. The native approach can require multiple development teams - one for each platform supported. HTML5 is thus a better option for enterprises without significant teams and resources.

Collaborative Community

HTML5 is known for its large, collaborative community of developers. Enterprise developers building HTML5 apps will readily find answers to technical questions, sample code, documentation, and many other free developer resources.

Frequent Updates

To make updates to a native app, you must go through an approval process via app stores - a headache if you want to make frequent updates. Web apps allow developers to bypass this process and make updates instantly.

Keeping Personal Devices Personal

In a Bring Your Own Device environment, enforcing data security policies for native apps may require installing mobile device management (MDM) software onto employees’ phones. An HMTL5 app, because it runs in the browser, bypasses the need for an MDM solution. Employees can access their work data securely while keeping their personal devices feeling “personal.”

Easy Transition to Mobile Web

If your company has an existing web app, you can leverage your existing code to build a mobile web version faster. By contrast, a native app on iOS, for example, is built in a completely separate environment using a different language (Objective-C) and is therefore not transferrable to a web platform.

Subscription Model and Content Advantage

For subscriptions purchased in the Apple App Store, for example, Apple takes 30% of the transaction. If your services are monetized via a subscription model, web apps are a better option than app stores.

And if your app is primarily content-focused, for example a newsfeed reader, your app is also a prime candidate for HTML5.

Despite the advantages, there are definitely instances in which HTML5 in not the best option for your enterprise.

Cons of the HTML5 Approach

If Advanced Performance is a Top Priority

If your app requires low latency, intense graphics or computational horsepower, HTML5 is not the best approach.

If Access to Native Device Functions is Required

If your app requires native device functions like offline data access or push notifications, native apps are a better fit than HTML5 apps. That said, there are an increasing number of APIs allowing web apps greater device access.

If You’re Looking to Monetize Your App

With the noted exception of a subscription service, native apps are a better option than HTML5 apps for monetization, due to the ease of distribution provided by app stores.

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