27th May, 2013

HTML5 Web Apps or Native Apps? A Simple Test

As we start to roll out Firefox OS based mobile devices in the coming months, where all apps on our platform are pure web apps, we frequently get aksed — will HTML5 based applications be as good as the Native Apps people have gotten used to on Android and iOS systems? Will web apps be as fast? As beautiful? As-insert-your-attribute? Last week I was speaking at a roundtable session at the Baidu Alliance annual conference and I proposed the following simple test: suppose we can roll back time (but with our knowledge now) and can choose if we should have only pure web apps (HTML-based) or only native apps (a la Android or iOS)? There was wide agreement that almost everyone except Apple and Google would prefer a world with only pure web apps to a world with only native apps. Why? Apart from the technical arguments, a more pressing concern is that we/industry allowed the native apps world to build up into a choking position before we realized its lethal potential, and we do not wish to live in a world where all the apps have to be approved (based on their criteria and self-interest) by two of the largest corporations on the planet. Of course we are not saying there is no place for native apps. We will have web apps and native apps co-exist, for sure. But for anyone who ever starts questioning the merits of HTML-based web apps, one way to find out the answer is to go through this mental exercise and see which path one would choose. The appeal of HTML-based web apps will present itself!


I’m pretty sure Google would prefer a world with only web apps as well.

I love the direction Mozilla is going with HTML5 apps.

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