Don't abandon HTML5 just because Mark Zuckerberg hates it
Mark Zuckerberg had harsh words for HTML5 today on stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, saying that Facebook's big HTML5 bet was "one of the biggest strategic mistakes we made."
But just because it's not right for a high-profile commercial app, that doesn't mean corporate developers should ignore it and go all native.
Zuckerberg said that Facebook bet on HTML5 about 20 months ago -- that puts the decision back in early 2011. The company saw most of its mobile traffic coming through its mobile web sites (Zuckerberg said that's still the case today, with Facebook's mobile web sites driving more traffic than the iOS and Android Facebook apps combined). So rather than going with native code, Facebook decided to use HTML5 across the board -- any change to its web site could be fairly easily replicated in its mobile apps.
"It just wasn't ready," Zuckerberg admitted today. The resulting apps were slow and unreliable, while other mobile apps were offering a much better experience. Eventually the company realized that "good enough is not good enough. We have to get to the highest quality level, and only way we'll get there is to do native."
So a few months ago, Facebook shifted directions 180 degrees and started building native apps for iOS and Android. The iOS app came out a couple weeks ago to mostly strong reviews, and Zuckerberg said that engagement has already gone up.
So HTML5 was a bad choice for Facebook. Does that mean it's a bad idea for enterprise mobile apps as well?
Not necessarily. We spoke with Ojas Rege, the VP of Strategy for mobile device and app management provider MobileIron, and the former head of Yahoo's mobile products.
"He's right, Facebook made a faux pas on that one. They didn’t stop and think about how end users were using the product. The HTML versus native question is not an enterprise or consumer-specific question. It's a user-specific question."
Rege laid out five factors enterprises should consider when thinking of the user experience for corporate apps:
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