Where does HTML5 fit in an app world? That’s the question raised in a new NPD Group report examining the role of the mobile Web, specifically HTML5 technology, in a mobile ecosystem dominated by applications.

The study suggests mobile Web proponents should focus on showcasing compelling use cases for HTML5 and building “hybrid apps,” to move the ball forward.

Linda Barrabee, research director of NPD’s Connected Intelligence service and author of “This is an App’s World: Can HTML5 Rejuvenate the Mobile Web?” points out the Web programming language has long been heralded as a way to overcome the fragmentation inherent in mobile technology. But “the technology is not quite ready for prime time and mainstream adoption,” she stated in a blog post.

This is underscored by companies like Facebook and LinkedIn ditching HTML5 in favor of native code for their mobile apps to improve performance and offer a better user experience. That’s why apps have typically been the default option for media companies, retailers and brands to extend their content and drive commerce on mobile devices.

Mobile users still spend the vast majority of their time with apps. Data from Nielsen’s latest cross-platform report showed smartphone owners devoted 87% of their time to apps versus 13% on the mobile Web, while iPad users spent 76% of their time with apps, compared to 24% surfing online.

Still, the NPD report indicates there are areas where people opt the mobile Web over apps, such as checking the news and visiting retail sites. Web and app use are also about even when it comes to mobile banking. Apps have only a slight lead over mobile Web sites in search and social networking.

By contrast, apps are heavily favored for playing mobile games because they enable a more immersive experience. Creating branded apps, of course, can be costly and laborious without any guarantee a new title will gain traction among the nearly million apps available in Apple’s App Store alone. That’s why the promise of HTML5 has been so appealing publishers and brands.

To fulfill that promise, Barrabee says those embracing HTML5 need to establish and deliver on specifications for the technology to increase its adoption. A step toward that goal is the creation of hybrid apps that embed Web technologies like HTML5 and JavaScript within a native app container. The idea is to combine flexibility with performance.

“But regardless of platform, companies need to focus on not just building cost-effective and compelling mobile solutions to meet consumer needs, but also on retention and stickiness for their mobile products, particularly in light of how much time, money, and effort they are spending on their mobile touch points,” she wrote. 

Source: HTML5 Has Place In App World


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