How can HTML5 compete with Native?

A research report by VisionMobile, taking an in-depth look at HTML5 development, uncovering the gaps in developer tools, showcasing the four different implementation paths for the platform, and taking a data-driven approach to the HTML5 vs Native debate. There is a lot of discussion around HTML5 vs. Native, and it’s usually polarized. But most people express opinion, rather than facts. In this report,  we answer some of the key questions with hard data.

Here are some of the key findings:

  • Web developers have four fundamental routes to the mobile market: direct to mobile browser, via a web wrapper (aka “the hybrid approach”), via a web-to-native converter, through a Native JavaScript API platform
  • 61% of HTML mobile developers go direct to the mobile browser, 27% use a web wrapper like Phonegap, 7% use a native JavaScript API platform like Blackberry Webworks and just 5% use a Web-to-native converter like Appcelerator
  • The four routes to market differ in terms of API depth: Among 30,339 Google Play (US) apps, 37% can be implemented using HTML5 via the Mobile browser, 49% via Phonegap, 63% via Appcelerator and 98% via Firefox OS
  • The most important APIs currently missing from HTML5 are WiFi and Power Management. If implemented, they would result to a 20.83% rise in the number of Android apps that can be created with HTML5
  • JavaScript performance is mostly a matter of tools and the ability to measure and improve
  • Browser politics play a key role to HTML5 development: Besides Opera, all major browser vendors are mobile OS vendors

This report is based on data from four different sources:

  1. Raw data from our Q2 Developer Economics survey (6,000 respondents, April-May 2013).
  2. Analytics from 30,000+ Android apps, available in Google Play.
  3. One-on-one, qualitative interviews with 32 developers, industry experts and tool vendors.
  4. Analysis and taxonomy of 42 HTML5 tools, mapped into categories across Architectural frameworks, UI frameworks, Web wrappers, Web-to-native converters and Native Javascript APIs (e.g. Firefox OS, Tizen, Blackberry Webworks).

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