HTML5 is important for three reasons. And its importance starts with the end of browser plugins. That’s right. With HTML5, rich media aspects that were formally handled by plugins (think Flash), are now built-in. That’s why there are new media tags like
Think about it for a second – when’s the last time you visited a site on your tablet that asked you to install a plugin? Never.
That’s also why some older plugin laden sites do not work on your mobile device. Remember the whole ”Steve Jobs no flash” kerfuffle years ago? Yep, Mr. Jobs was adamant that the iPhone would support HTML5 and not fall into the plugin trap. Incidentally, Google and other major vendors have since followed suit. HTML5 has the support of all major browser vendors now – Apple, Google, Firefox, Opera, and yes, even Microsoft.
HTML5 is important because now that all major vendors support it – including those in the mobile space – you get a universal experience across a wide spectrum of devices. While particular features of HTML5 might vary by device platform, there are enough common ground features to build a compelling web app that looks and feels similar across the gamut of devices.
And as HTML5 continues to evolve, the differences between various implementations should narrow. Accordingly, with HTML5, you get device ubiquity. You get a chance to build something once and have it work across a wide spectrum of browsers.
What’s more, while the mobile market is still dominated by Apple and Google, as other players, like Microsoft, begin to establish a beachhead, app developers will have to contend with more than two platforms. For a variety of apps, like those being built for the enterprise, the promise of HTML5’s device ubiquity starts to become quite appealing – after all, building an app once, as opposed to three or more times, is less expensive.
Finally, HTML5 is important because Amazon recently announced support for HTML5 apps in their App Store for Android. Previous to this announcement, pure HTML5 apps had no real mass distribution model. HTML5 app developers relied on a search engine, while native app developers have a direct channel to consumers that cuts through a lot of noise and makes it easy to find specific apps.
HTML5 is by no means a silver bullet for mobile app development. There’s a time and a place for HTML5 apps, just as there’s still a need to create native apps. Nevertheless, HTML5 continues to gain favor as app stores (like Amazon’s App store for Android) begin to distribute HTML5 apps and other platforms begin to capture market share.