LIVE FROM CTIA WIRELESS 2012: HTML5 needs to play “catch-up” to enable developers to write apps which can more effectively compete with native titles, Todd Simpson, chief innovation officer of Mozilla, said.
While noting that HTML5 is “awesome” for certain types of apps, which generally do not require access to core device features, the fact HTML5 app engines run on top of a native device platform means that they are destined to be less capable than apps written for the platform itself.
This is most evident in the ability of APIs to enable HTML5 apps to access device capabilities such as a camera and graphics features when compared to availability of APIs for native apps, as well as the performance overhead that comes from running apps in a platform on top of a platform.
“HTML 5 has always run on top of a native platform, and that means it is always going to lag the native platform – that’s the reality of HTML5 today,” he said.
Mozilla is working with W3C to drive the standardisation of HTML5, in order to address some of these issues. “We’re kind of looking to be faster followers than we have been in the past, so that more and more apps will be applicable for HTML5.”
Mozilla has announced its own platform, codenamed Boot 2 Gecko, which is designed to address this by running an HTML5 platform on top of the kernel, with all device features and apps then created using the web technology.
At the GSMA Mobile World Congress earlier this year, the company announced a partnership with Telefonica Digital to use this technology to create low-cost smartphone devices, with Deutsche Telekom’s research arm also engaged with B2G.
However, Chris Dury, CEO of independent app store GetJar, noted that technology alone is not the issue for HTML5. “The magic of the apps economy is the combination of distribution, monetisation and capabilities. You need to have all of those things to have an app opportunity – and it’s going to be a little while.”