Destined to be the wave of future, HTML5 is taking over the app world thanks to its various distinctive advantages over its counterparts, such as improved graphics and animations, dynamic data storage features and geolocation support. However, HTML5 apps still has a long way to go, which definitely isn’t easy.
1. Discovery is Difficult
HTML5 app discovery is extremely tough for one big reason: There are no well-known sites where you can find them. Sure, Facebook’s App Center and the Mozilla Marketplace offer HTML5 apps, but most people aren’t aware that these sites exist, and they aren’t optimized for mobile devices.
This is a huge issue. If no one knows where to find your app, or that you even have an app, distribution and promotion suffers and it’s impossible to ever gain a substantial number of users.
2. Support is Limited
Developing HTML5 apps is not as straightforward as building desktop web apps. In the mobile world, there are multiple operating systems, a number of different browsers, various screen sizes, and thousands of devices that developers have to consider.
With a great deal of complex animation and graphics running on mobile web apps, the user experience on an unsupported browser or device can suffer. Frameworks like PhoneGap and Sencha are great tools, but there is still a lot of room for improvement, and they will need support from browsers and device markers. Without their support, it is very difficult to achieve the build-once, deploy-everywhere ideal.
3. Lack of Ad Networks
The advertising model for native apps is expansive, well defined, and can be very lucrative. It’s also something that’s been cultivated over several years and has healthy competition and diversity among the players.
But there is not yet a standardized ad platform that enables advertisers to develop one HTML5 ad and deploy it on multiple Apple, Android, BlackBerry or Windows devices. A few companies are starting to build their own HTML5 ad networks, but there is no model that those developers are comfortable with and that have demonstrated profitability.
4. No Standard HTML5 Payment Framework
When the latest version of Angry Birds goes live, users need only jump into their respective app store and within a click or two the app is purchased and loaded on their phone. Their credit card information is saved in the app store, which users tend to trust as a secure environment, making app purchases as safe and easy as it gets.
There are a number of payment tools out there for web apps, but there is no standardized payment framework that is secure or easy enough for prime time. The Chrome Web Store integrates Google Checkout, but it’s a vendor-locked solution and not accessible to everyone. Unless the HTML5 community can find a way to replicate the native app payment process — or define a new, secure and convenient way — consumers are going to be uncomfortable.
5. Hesitant Consumer Behavior
People understand how native apps work — download them from a marketplace directly to the phone’s home screen — and are comfortable with them. They see the process as a simple, safe, and painless one. But downloading HTML5 apps is a different process, one consumers are not used to and, thus far, have been reluctant to try.
The larger question, though, may be whether consumers will adopt a more web-oriented view of the world, one where apps are downloaded through a browser, or whether HTML5 will instead interact with native apps to form a hybrid environment.
The benefits of HTML5 are clear — write once, deploy everywhere — but there are still many monetization, performance, and technical limitations that are preventing the mobile community from going “all in.”