app store vs HTML 5

So let’s say you’re shipping a non-iPhone mobile internet computer. It’s Android, Palm Pre, Kindle, something along those lines. And you need to compete with Apple’s app store.

Do you:

1) Make your own little app store, in full knowledge that merchandise will be rare and shoddy?

2) Implement HTML 5 with local storage, great canvas support and all the other doodads that make it possible to do full-function web apps?

10 thoughts on “app store vs HTML 5

  1. I think there’s definitely a post-web 2.0 vibe around “the web always wins” that’s resisting any product that works against HTML / CSS / Javascript, or that locks people into a single service / host.

    I’m always optimistic about this point of view, and that’s of course tempered by the ongoing success of things like Facebook or the Kindle or Apple App Store. But, I tend to read these things as good examples of entire ecosystems–that are both fundamentally hard to create on the web and also hard to contain in a ROI-sense. Once those examples are in place, a lot of people have a much easier time replicating them in some ways.

    1. Jay, it strikes me that the Once those examples are in place, a lot of people have a much easier time replicating them in some ways pattern is related to the common “let a thousand flowers bloom” period in the development of internet standards.

      Thinking about the (great) piece that Hugh points to, the sticking points are features where there really is no web standard way to do something. EG pay for your app. It takes a long time for standards to develop, and in the meantime an experienced capitalist will usually pretend that their proprietary approach is going to be durable.

  2. @grigs has some really good analysis on this question. Device sensor capabilities (GPS, accelerometer, camera and so on) are the big tech piece missing from standardized HTML access. But as one of his five dimensions he also identifies the AppStore: monetization.

    http://www.cloudfour.com/459/the-five-most-common-arguments-for-native-iphone-development/

    I’m not convinced riding the AppStore is a way to build a sustainable business. But that’s a discussion for another day… :-)

  3. I’m not sure if this also is relevant to your question, but imagine that Flickr and Facebook have not launched yet, and they decide to launch as iPhone apps instead of as websites. They both focus on sharing photos amongst “friends,” with some differences, obviously. But, they see the native app as ideal because of its seemless access to the camera.

    Say they are super successful on the iPhone. Then what? Do a Pre app? Etc? Maintain multiple apps?

    Still seems likley they’d make web-versions of their apps at some point.

    I wonder if the App Store / device / custom browser (e.g., iTunes) model works only to the degree that there are developers who really want bank on that model (i.e., the old Microsoft mantra: developers, developers, developers)? And, if so, that suggests the need for a monopoly platform or else there is so much fragmentation that each App marketplace is really still just a niche compared with the potential of web apps.

  4. I say HTML5. App Stores are great but they will change dramatically over time to direct delivery from the developers. Developers themselves will use HTML5 so they can break the dependence on App Stores and the distribution fees associated with them.

    When Apple originally released the iPhone all applications were supposed to be network based. There was a big hue and cry until Apple relented and allowed developers to develop directly for the phone.

    With the evolution of technology it is time to go back to the original direction of the iPhone. The real benefit will be that they will not have to develop for any specific phone and can support any and all of them with one application.

    That is the real goal of any developer.

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