HTML5 vs. Native: Looking beyond the hyperbole

Developer Economics released the results of a survey this morning that shed some much-needed light on the HTML5 vs. native-app debate where hyperbole often overshadows logic. Unsurprisingly, the study found that cross-platform code portability was the most common reason for adopting HTML5, accounting for 56 percent of developers who use or plan to adopt the technology. Low cost of development was cited by 51 percent of respondents, and one-third of developers said cross-screen code portability was a reason for choosing HTML5.

Meanwhile, 35 percent of respondents said HTML5 needs access to the latest native APIs to compete with native code, and 34 percent said it needs a “better development environment.” And while 9 percent said HTML5 is already competitive with native, 8 percent said it simply cannot compete.

Most telling, though, is the kinds of apps HTML5 developers are building. The most popular genre is business and productivity, claiming 42 percent of HTML5 developers, and 32 percent said they focus on enterprise apps. Only 12 percent of HTML5 developers said they were building games.

Those responses indicate that developers understand the pros and cons of HTML5 and native code better than many others in mobile do. While the flexibility of HTML5 makes it a powerful tool for building apps that don’t require rich media, the technology simply can’t support immersive gaming or other data-intensive apps. That’s a much more nuanced and realistic view than the silly “Who will win?” debate that continues to be such a distraction.