One of the most hotly contested topics of 2012 has surely got to be the Native versus HTML5 debate. I can understand why. We live in a world surrounded by screens. Different size screens for different platforms. Different interactions for different
device types. Everything is an interface, and it’s become apparent that your brand needs a presence on as many interfaces as it can. The average UK family home now has over ten different interfaces - through a mixture of mobile, tablet and desktop devices
– and consumers expect to seamlessly get access to content across all of them.
It seems that almost every organisation, big or small, is going through the process of ratifying its approach to delivering across a multi-device landscape. It makes catering for different browsers seem like a piece of cake. It’s a challenge that businesses
are struggling to deal with. To make it more interesting, most organisations have just launched their mobile optimised site to now only find out that tablet is starting to steal significant traffic. And guess what? Their desktop site is not touch optimised
and their mobile site doesn’t scale up. You can’t win sometimes.
I get asked a lot for my opinion on Native versus HTML5. In my opinion there is no definitive answer. Framing the question as a ‘versus’ implies that it is a competition where there is a winner or loser. There isn’t. It ultimately depends on your business
needs, customers, budget and strategy. In some cases you may decide to deliver a Native service so that you can seamlessly utilise capabilities such as push notifications and contacts integration. In some cases you may decide the ease of updating content
and supporting multiple platforms lends itself better to HTML5. In some cases you will want to have a mixture of both.
The best analogy for viewing the Native versus HTML5 debate is cars. I like to think of it as deciding whether to purchase a Ferrari or a Toyota. Both are great car companies and maintain strong brand leadership. Both are market leaders within their target
consumer segments. Like Native apps, a Ferrari costs more but offers better performance and has a sexier look and feel. On the other hand a Ferrari isn’t suitable for all types of terrain and you will spend more maintaining it. Like HTML5, a Toyota is comparatively
cheaper and doesn’t handle as well. Toyota is however reliable and can be driven on almost any road.
In real life, if you can afford it, you would get both. The Ferrari is perfect for Sunday drives and special events and the Toyota for getting around the city. If you need something more practical and have a lower budget you would only get the Toyota.
In some circumstances you may only get the Ferrari. The important thing is to not let the decision between Native and HTML5 daunt you. Decide on what you need for your circumstance and work out what you can afford. In the end both will get you from A to
B. One just might put you in the red…