Did Facebook Waste Five Years on HTML5? MoMoLondon asks

So yesterday at MoMoLondon, the industry spoke. And despite some rousing debate, it seems that native still wins the day. At least for now.

The event was chaired by Ewan MacLeod of Mobile Industry Review and he was joined by two teams of top speakers: Andrew Betts, director of FT Labs, Sam Arora, business development manager at Keynote Systems, Jose Valles, head of BlueVia arguing for HTML5, opposing them and supporting native were Nick Barnett, CEO of Mippin, Alex Caccia, CEO, Marmalade and Chris Book CEO of Bardowl.

So did Facebook waste five years on HTML5? Or, as Andrew Betts from the FT – champion of the open web – puts it, did they just not do it very well? Is it, as Alex Caccia put it, about generalists vs specialists, or the right tool for the right job. Not one as alternative solution for the other.

Is Google Maps incompatibility with iOS an issue for Apple or Google? Is this just another example of Apple making the decision for you, or as Chris Book asked, should Google have planned for the day that they would have to go native? 

Are developers and users prisoners in an app store, or are they the perfect place for apps to be found and paid for? Nick Barnett pointed out that app marketplaces are a typical retail model, think of John Lewis or another top store, he said, the retailer takes a percentage for providing the space and payment method. Would you rather a back alley vendor? Chris admitted that there is a worrying dominance of certain stores, but, he added: “Normal people don’t give a s**t – they want it to work. This model has been working since 2008.”

While security was highlighted as a reason to stick with what we know, Andrew said that the types of lengths that people suggest you need to go to “encrypted storage, encryption and decryption client-side – are not used on or essential to desktop. If you define yourself narrowly enough then native will be better. But if youre thinking about tv, kiosks, billboards, all the other places with the potential for web technology – you can adapt.”

So is HTML5 a gateway into mobile for grads or people who just have an idea? Nick said there are template-based app dev toolkits, which are ok. You could always learn to be a developer – but you probably have to choose HTML5 or native. Alex added: “What do you want to do? Lots of brands are working to a budget and need to show profit for the next quarter.”

All agreed that we live in a native centric-world and the HTML5 ecosystem, with a standard user experience and user interface, needs to get off the ground. “It is the next 2bn mobile users, those in developing countries, where the decision will come,” Alex added. 

And although the majority of the voters played it safe with native, it was clear MoMos director, Jo Rabin, wants an open web world. He is chair of Coremob, a mobile web development community group. 

So maybe 2015 or 2020 will be HTML5s year… Whether youll be able to get fast enough internet is another question!

Get in touch with the speakers: Andrew Barnett @triblondon, Sam Arora @devanywhere, Jose Valles @josevalles49, Nick Barnett @Mippin, Alex Caccia @marmalade and Chris Book @bookmeister.


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