HTML5 and the death of the App Store
For obvious reasons Google has long-trumpeted the notion that brands should create a mobile optimised site first before developing a costly iPhone app.
While Google now offers a free way of doing so with its recently launched Mobilize tool, brands are looking to create more sophisticated mobile sites as they start to realise that the only way isn’t necessarily Apple.
This is where HTML5 comes in to play. In the past few months a number of brands, including the Financial Times, Amazon, New Look have used the coding to create app-like experiences, which can be visited from a range of mobile browsers.
The most recent brand to jump on the HTML5 bandwagon is LinkedIn, which this week launched a web-based app, alongside updated iOS and Android apps.
Given the widespread adoption of Android as an operating system, installed in nearly half of the world’s smartphones shipped over the past year according to Gartner, and Nokia set to launch its Windows 7 phone in the next few months, it is certainly time for brands to think outside of iOS.
Not only because it means that they can reach wider audiences, but also because developing native apps across a range of devices is costly. HTML5 provides a solution.
For these reasons many people in the industry are speculating that HTML5 could spell the death of the App Store, particularly as Apple now demands a 30% charge on all digital products sold through its apps.
As Rob Grimshaw, managing director of FT.com, told me in a recent interview for Marketing magazine, Apple’s charges do not make business sense for the subscriptions-based publisher.
He said the results it has seen since it launched its HTML5 app have been beyond its expectations and life outside the App store is not ‘cold and harsh’ as you may think.
Detractors, however, will say that consumers have become more adept at using apps than their mobile browser.
And of course there is the argument that native apps deliver better user experience, given the fact that they are tailored to the smartphone devices.
This is certainly the case for gaming apps, but for a retailer, for example, it makes perfect sense to launch an m-commerce platform in a browser to reach as many consumers as possible.
Maybe it is too early to sound the death knell of the App store, but Facebook could be well on its way to doing so if TechCrunch’s recent article is anything to go by.
According to the report, Facebook is planning to bypass the App Store for its long awaited tablet app by launching an HTML5-based one.
What’s more, TechCrunch said that Facebook will replicate the App Store’s mobile payment system, which is a saving grace of the App Store, with its Credits to allow developers to sell apps and offer in-app purchases.
So while most brands may not want to shun the App Store completely, given the huge distribution it offers, if anyone is based placed to do so, its Facebook with its 750m users.