There's a lot of buzz from developers about HTML5, but what does it really mean to business? I look at in terms of:
- What HTML is
- When HTML5 Became Important
- Uses for HTML5
- Competitive Advantages
- Is it Worth the Investment?
- Steve Jobs
First off, the term HTML5 development has come to mean a lot more than just HTML5. It's become a proxy for standards driven web technology that allows more dynamic web interaction (video, animation, etc.). It's made functionality that previously was only available in Flash or Java Applets possible in the browser. The way most people use the term it includes:
Often the above mentioned technologies and standards work in parity to make sure that behavior works well across all browsers. For the sake of this article, we're including all of the above technologies under the HTML5 banner.
When HTML5 Became Important
Adobe + HTML5
Given the massive momentum behind HTML5, Adobe (the makers of Flash) have decided to hedge their bets and are now releasing a new HTML5 editing tool and have also created some amazing HTML5 Animation Demos. I read this as a big sign of further adoption to come.
Developers have been excited HTML5 for a long time, but HTML5 really started gaining momentum when Steve Jobs definitely announced that the iPhone wouldn't support Flash. At that time, HTML5 became the magic bullet that would allow advanced interactivity on "mobile" (aka the iPhone). The success of the iPad and towing of the line furthered interest significantly.
Uses for HTML5
Although HTML5 is web technology, the reach of HTML5 development goes well beyond just the traditional internet and replacing Flash. Companies are now using HTML5 as a single codebase to replace all kinds of development, including (most importantly) the various types of native mobile development - while still allowing mobile app development using PhoneGap. This has huge ramifications on reducing the cost of development. The following table illustrates the reach and the variety of other codebases that are currently required using a traditional approach:
|Web||HTML & Flash||HTML5|
|iPhone/iPad (iOS)||Objective C||HTML5|
|Android||Java (Android SDK)||HTML5|
|Blackberry||Java (Blackberry SDK)||HTML5|
Depending on the number of platforms being targeted for a specific app/project that's a savings of up to 7:1 in terms of reducing development and maintenance costs. For the majority of projects that are targeting web, iOS & Android, that's still a 3:1 cost reduction.
Not only can HTML5 be deployed across multiple platforms, it's also faster AND cheaper. Even though high-end HTML5 development is a high-test skill, the components are well-known technologies, not just among developers but web designers as well, which means it's easier to staff and divide work among workers.
When contrasted to something like native iPhone development (Objective C), very, very few designers understand the technology and good iPhone developers are very hard to come by. This means:
- More people know HTML5 technologies.
- Both designers and developers can work together.
- More people can work simultaneously on a project.
Is It Worth the Investment?
The short answer: Yes. Especially if your developers and/or designers have been asking to explore HTML5 it's more than worth letting them to take some time. Given the present landscape, switching over to - or starting with - HTML5 can give you a huge leg up on the competition. Over the longer term, not switching will ultimately put you at a competitive disadvantage.
For more information on specifics, check out our HTML5 reference.