Sometimes I can’t help myself. After spending years in the trenches as a reporter, anytime I see three or more information blurbs about a technology or a company, I immediately think of it as a trend. And this time, I’m making a somewhat obvious observation — well obvious for most of our readers, at the very least — that a set of technologies collectively known as HTML5 is finally starting to gain a lot momentum, and to me, that’s a good thing.
In last month or so, we’ve seen some major services re-launch their websites for the iPhone, iPad and other tablets based on HTML5 and are bringing them to the mainstream users — so much so that even giants like Microsoft are ready to cast aside their own technologies in favor of HTML5.
There’s Google of course, whose apps keep getting better and better. It’s clearly leading the HTML5 charge. And if that wasn’t enough, in July 2011, Pandora re-launched its website for tablets. Earlier this month, Twitter launched an HTML5-based web client that’s as fantastic as the dedicated app itself.
Today, Amazon launched Kindle Cloud Reader, which is so good, writes our Darrell Etherington, that “you’d be hard-pressed to tell that you aren’t using a native app, especially if you place a shortcut to the web app on your iPad’s home screen.” Walmart-owned Vudu launched an HTML5 version of its web-app. And as we had previously noted, “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.”
I find it ironic that when the iPhone first launched in 2007, the whole idea was that mobile would help reinvent the web, but those web apps never really materialized. Four years later, that very same idea could become a drain on Apple’s booming app business as companies deploy web apps to avoid Apple’s 30-percent revenue cut for apps and content.
That said, I don’t think HTML 5 and dedicated apps are mutually exclusive. Websites have to come to realization that they need to be tablet-ready for a seamless experience for their customers. What’s more, the closer they can bring the app and browser-based experience to each other, the better it is. Pandora and Twitter have done a good job of providing a somewhat consistent experience across different browsers and apps. Hopefully, this is going to get easier and more commonplace.
In a post, Why HTML5 web apps are going to rock your world, Simon Mackie said:
As technologies like HTML5, CSS3, SVG and WebGL start to become more mainstream, not only will the web apps we already use become more useful, but we should also see developers building web apps that do things that previously could have only been done by desktop applications. It’s an exciting time to be working on the web, both for the developers of web apps, who have a plethora of new technologies and techniques to experiment with, and for users of those apps.
With Facebook set to launch an HTML5-based Project Spartan, many of us would be able to see this first hand.