The tech industry’s movers and shakers have been saying for months now that the HTML5 mark-up language is very important. New research data released Friday indicates that HTML5 is not just going to be big, it’s going to be huge — and it’s coming fast.

Speeding car by EJ Callow on flickr

Updated. The tech industry’s movers and shakers have been saying for months now that the HTML5 is very important. New data released Friday indicates that HTML5 is not just going to be big, it’s going to be huge — and it’s coming fast.

More than 2.1 billion mobile devices will have HTML5 browsers by 2016, up from just 109 million in 2010, according to a new report by ABI Research. Much of this growth will be thanks to Apple’s massive support for the HTML5 platform, according to the study. And Apple is also likely to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the technology’s wide scale adoption. Because Apple has so much control over its software and devices, it will be most poised to take full advantage of HTML features as they emerge in the coming years.

As is often the case in business, where there’s a winner, there’s usually a loser. HTML5 could largely replace Abobe’s proprietary Flash technology. And HTML5’s swift ascent could render Flash irrelevant in short order. “I think the disappearance of Flash is closer than people think,” ABI senior analyst Mark Beccue said in a press release accompanying the data.

HTML5’s projected growth is all the more impressive considering that the actual standard is not officially expected to be completed until 2020 2014, according to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards body. But that won’t stop companies and independent engineers from developing and deploying HTML5 features now, ABI said.

Indeed, Facebook CTO Bret Taylor has said his company is putting a “huge amount of our investment” in HTML5, and Google recently debuted its first homepage doodle composed entirely with the HTML5 mark-up language. It may seem like buzz about HTML5 is everywhere already, but if the latest research is correct, we’re only at the beginning.

Update: The W3C has targeted 2014 as the date it expects to achieve broad interoperability for the full HTML5 specification. The ABI Research report incorrectly noted that date as 2020.

Feature image courtesy of Flickr user EJ Callow.

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  1. beenyweenies Friday, July 22, 2011

    I think it’s important to note that while the *Flash Player* may be going away, the Flash IDE is very likely to become more important than ever.

    Creating HTML5 Rich Internet Applications requires heavy Javascript and use of Canvas, and a mature and rich IDE like Flash can bring development cost and time to market way down.

    The most likely outcome is that the Flash IDE abandons Actionscript in favor of raw Javascript, or at the very least outputs native HTML5 code.

    1. JavaScript is not as mature and fast as actionacript. Html5/css3 is just a fraction of what flash is. So why abandon something that is better? There is a reason why html5 games look like flash for 10 years ago.

      1. WebGL games look pretty good.

      2. In what ways is JavaScript less mature? In what ways are modern JS engines slower than Flash? For example, have you compared the latest stable of Flash vs. V8 ( http://code.google.com/p/v8/ )?

      3. @Lucian: WebGL games look very experimental and support is limited. If you are a developer you don’t want to wait x years before your stuff become available for majority of people.

      4. @Will:
        So because Chrome is fast you forget all other browsers?
        Actionscript have classes, variable types, strict typing etc etc and have consequent performance.

      5. Translation: “I’m a lot more familiar with and comfortable in Flash and ActionScript than I am in JavaScript. I’ve made sure that I haven’t kept up with recent advances in JS standards, tools and frameworks, so that I can keep my blinders on intact.”


      6. Hm, you might want to check your history on that. Flash was in vented in 1996. Javascript in 1994 (when it was still called ECMAscript).

      7. I’m working with both JavaScript and actionscript. Use the best tool for the job. Create multimedia in html5/JavaScript is a mess at the moment. It doesn’t take years for adobe to release a new version.

  2. It’s not clear that Apple will embrace everything HTML5 … the things that matter to developers are necessarily the things that matter to Apple in the big picture of platform destiny and direction.

    Thankfully, HTML5 is not “owned” or being polluted by any single platform vendor. Surprisingly enough, Microsoft is now paying closer attention to HTML5 compliance in their IE releases. Firefox and Chrome will be pushing the HTML5 envelope as well.

    My own yardstick for measuring support is mobile adoption of WebSockets and ContentEditable. Not every browser is equal when it comes to HTML5 compliance. New companies like Sencha will drive a lot of the innovation behind the scenes as developers look for better toolkits and components/libraries.

    The success of HTML5 could also accelerate the move away from “app store” only distribution monopolies. Now that would be innovative.

    1. Html5/css3 is just a fraction of flash features. When can we expect html6? With flash you can develop today and next version with 3D is already in beta.

      1. I’m commenting about HTML5 not Flash. We don’t use Flash or develop for Flash; we write native apps and we are now shifting to HTML5 implementations as well. Our users don’t care what technology we use to deliver applications. They just want the functionality with least amount of hassle and they want it everywhere they access their data.

      2. @Scott: The advantage of writing native apps is that you can do stuff that is not impossible in HTML5, for example advanced multimedia. So why didn’t you write web apps in first place?

    2. We started out doing native/hybird iOS apps. However, I think the move to HTML5 is becoming more compelling by the day. It’s worth reading Roger McNamee’s recent views given his investment in Facebook … which is also shifting to HTML5 development.

      1. FB’s survival is based on HTML5. They’re whole credit/app/payment ecosystem wouldn’t be allowed in app form on iOS without Apple taking a cut. If mobile is going to be the number 1 access point to FB (or at least at the same level as desktop browser), this is a big deal for them. Which makes me wonder why they’re making an iPad app (reportedly).

  3. Andrew Brust Friday, July 22, 2011

    I’m not sure how this statement is substantiated in the article or self evidient: “Because Apple has so much control over its software and devices, it will be most poised to take full advantage of HTML features as they emerge in the coming years.” I wonder if you could qualify.

    The person most in control of HTML5 is Google’s Ian Hickson (aka “Hixie”).

    1. Hi Andrew,

      I was referring to the fact that Apple software only runs on Apple hardware, and the company tightly controls the sale and distribution of its devices through branded Apple stores and a very small handful of authorized distributors.

      Newsweek did a great piece on Apple’s vertical integration strategy here: http://www.newsweek.com/2010/01/29/going-vertical.html

      1. The way you worded that statement is a little confusing to the reader. Basically you are saying that because they control the applications (browser), they can force faster adoption of HTML5 in their OS? That is most certainly not true. OS’s have nothing to do with web languages, browsers do. Apple has no more advantage than any other company that makes web browsers. In fact, I guarantee that Apple will be behind Firefox, Opera and Chrome simply because it will want to keep control of the applications that are run on its devices. With HTML5, Apple will lose some of that control. Application developers will no longer have to go through a sanctioned Apple gate to get into the walled garden of apple consumers. Mozilla and Google are pushing the envelope of the web every day. They are banking on the ubiquity of the web and less and less need for “Vertical-integration” (control) to give users the experience they desire.

  4. I agree with Scott, Apple has little benefit from HTML 5. Rich internet apps rake away apps form the App Store, that can’t be good for Apple.

  5. Ironically, I’m not sure Apple benefits. Look at what is happening with digital subscriptions. Apple takes a cut of every digital content subscription via the App Store, right? Then they raise their cut. Content providers respond in turn by creating HTML5 iPad web apps, thus removing Apple from the revenue stream entirely (except for the device).

  6. Indeed, a long history and easy to forget about Apple’s Lisa arrogance, still here. Another reader stated it: “the things that matter to developers are not necessarily the things that matter to Apple”. For as much as I dislike Adobe’s myopia, I hope maybe someone buys it and help counter the bullying of Apple in this consumerist phase of mobile development.

  7. What is amazing about this, is that everybody are happy to throw away working (write once run everywhere) and reliable solution, without getting anything nearly as good in return.

    I mean sure writing doodles in javascript may be fun. Thing is that all enthusiast may in near future face the fact that they need to deliver working buissness solution on platform that is interpreted individually by every type of browser, and which won’t run on 20% of browsers at all (like win XP Internet Expolorer users). It can be done, but it makes simple things more difficult and in result more expensive. Replacing flash with javascript is step in wrong direction.

    1. Like any business decision, developers have to factor in things like platform support, open vs private APIs, platform specific features, etc. The article is about HTML5 and not a slam on Flash or the original cross-platform solution; Java. It’s not hard to imagine users enjoying a “plug-in” free future. We like and use iOS a lot and we also like Java and Cocoa; you use what you believe is best at the time and hope you can leverage your IP/work in the future. HTML5 though provides a path to a possible future of wider adoption on even more platforms. What’s not to like about that?

      1. HTML5/CSS3 is a mess of features and the adoption is not going fast. Standard interactive web pages is not hard to do with current technologies. HTML5 adding video/sound with no standard formats and a Canvas that not IE support. So what is cool about HTML5?

      2. What is not to like is that HTML5 is used as a reason to kick off flash and replace it with something other companies want to sell instead. People are told that flash is bad casue it crashes browsers and displays annoying ads. Perhaps in few years borwsers won’t display flash by default or even refuse to install it just because of someones decision. I have nothing against progress, but forcing people to switch to inferior platform is not a progress. They should make people switch by creating something better than flash.

    2. If and when Adobe ever deliver a Flash that isn’t a security and performance nightmare, I’ll stop dissing it so much. I expect that to happen sometime around the official adoption of HTML12 at the earliest, given current Adobe statements and demonstrated attitudes. Their “I don’t wanna hafta learn JavaScript” fanbois are not helping themselves in this (or anybody else, either).

      1. Html5 demos look like old flash so performance isn’t a reason. Most of software can have bugs and security issues, so you overreact. Html6 is after 2022..?

  8. You Dont know Flash, you are a hater :) Saturday, July 23, 2011

    Your wrong. Flash is not just a binary run time player embedded in a browser. Its also a rich (consolidated) language called Actionscript 3 that is much more robust than the spaghetti code that represents in page javascript and html5 code (as standards). But where you are really wrong is, HTML5 is great i agree, but it actually causes a bigger problem for standards. The lowest base line standard supported by html5 is the canvas tag for drawing shapes and some basic javascript. As new browsers evolve, and private companies claim they are writing “HTML5″ code, many will be writing toward a custom run time interpreter that was interpreted by the provider/private company as a standard. We have already seen this happen in the evolution of web browsers. One web browser provider over the other decides to put “non-standard” but cool technology into their base… This is happening now to HTML5 and will continue to happen. And to really help you understand why the word Flash is just as generic as the word “cloud” or “internet”… think to yourself, what is it that is the most important part of Flash technology… The language AS3, and the IDE, which is very powerful, these will be the most strategic tools in generating HTML5 output. Neither of these Adobe technologies will go away, what you will see instead is the emergence of Flash IDE outputing HTML5… Over time names like MS HTML5, Apple HTML5, and yes.. even Flash HTML5 will become common speak… More-over, each IDE , like Visual Studio, will allow you to compile out “Standard HTML5″ and so will Flash IDE (Flash CS5). On output / compilation the IDE will tell you if you have broken the “standard across all modern browsers” and or give you output for several types of browsers to give you the same interactivity. All HTML5 is…. yet again, a guideline. And to say that Binary run time embedded players like silverlight and Flash are going away is just as stupid to say as saying Browsers are going away… They arent, in their own right, the binary players, and offline out of browser runtimes like Flash (which can run out of browser), Air, and Silverlight will continue to exist, though their marketing names may change… The truth is, this evolution of HTML5 is cool, great for consultants that bill per hour, but when people say its a flash killer, its the same people saying that which have zero or minimal experience with Flash technology. Try and remember that HTML5 is JIT and Flash, Silverlight and others are compiled binary and run cross browser, cross platform. Your article wasnt very informative on key strategies other than saying HTML5 is cool and its going to beat flash out of existence? Why not put out an article about HTML5 and real features you can do with it today… also put out a real gap analysis on which browsers support what common run time, and interview developers that wrote that technology and find out how much additional code they had to write to make it all run for each separate “platform / browser”… Developers dont like writing duplicate code or separate functions that do the same thing in different interpreters, and this is what HTML5 is bringing us, some very cool new standards, but huge lack of maturity and confusion on how this really helps companies. If you look at Google’s site, they had to write specialized code to detect which browser and or device type and output special landing pages… Anyway, thanks for stirring a debate against a great platform called flash in favor of a very young and widely non standard interpreted technology like html5.

    1. HTML is hardly non-standard. HTML5 is not fantasy. Check-out Sencha and check out this site which Roger McNamee’s band promotes on; it’s HTML5. The browsers that will drive HTML5 adoption are IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and maybe even Facebook+Rockmelt. I hardly think Flash is going away overnight but the article is about HTML5; not about the viability of Flash today.


      1. HTML5 is a fantasy. It’s the perfect idea married to poor cross-implementation (as HTML has always been) and it’s not changing any time soon. Try to implement any of the HTML5 “standard” features and you’ll have to deal with dealing with at least 5 different ways of doing something (depending on the browser and, sometimes, operating system). Know why there’s so many JS frameworks that reinvent the wheel? Simply because the promises told by HTML5 don’t hold any strength and because you have to add a layer on top of everything to make it work.

        HTML5 is not a single technology you can write to and forget. It’s a rough model that browsers more or less follow. It requires devs to test on every browser out there before they can publish something.

        As an idea, HTML5 has a lot of positive things going for it. But I won’t pretend it’s an actual standard and easy platform to use. It’s not.

  9. To me, the real game-changer is platform interoperability. On the short end of that stick has to be Apple. On a related note: “Hey, Bill, Steve is only charging $29.95 for his!”

  10. 2020, wow! that’s very fast! Boom!, fast! hype! Just keep it going because it’s dying recently.

    It is sad to see how 2.5% of market convinced companies to spend double amount of time and money to achieve something we was able decade ago. Especially in economical crisis. They spending more effort but the 2.5% is the only winner here. In 2020+ my son has a chance to catch me up :D, because technology not even stood still bud is going backward.

    I wonder how much apple is willing to pay for this sort of articles. If my English was good I would consider to became a IT journalist instead developer.

    1. I agree… 2020 this does not make sense why so long and why so much hype now?

    2. No disrespect, but the following statement really epitomizes the rampant ignorance floating around today about HTML5.

      “Google recently debuted its first homepage doodle composed entirely with the HTML5 mark-up language.”

      Entirely with markup? Really? Last I checked there is not an “AnimateDoodle” tag in html5; it was done with JavaScript, inside an HTML5 Canvas object.

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