html5 vs native - and the winner is...Market analysts and enterprise mobile strategists keep telling us that the never-ending debate of HTML5 vs Native apps is hugely overstated.  What’s more important is the overall strategy, they say.  The readiness of your enterprise systems for mobile.  The availability of mobile skills.  The preferences of your development teams.  The cost/benefit analysis… et cetera.

From what we observe on the market, the HTML5 vs Native debate is pretty much over.  While HTML5 has made good progress in the past few years, and while app developers still cite HTML5 as their most-used mobile platform (understandably, given their prevalent skill sets!), the market clearly dictates the choice of native mobile platforms for customer-facing and employee apps.

Customers Prefer Native Apps

Research shows that mobile experience has a huge impact on how consumers view a brand and interact with it.  A recent Oracle study has found that more than half (55%) of surveyed users said a poor app experience would put them off using a company’s products or services.

If you are a customer-focused, market-driven organization, chances are, your customers have already spoken, and you have taken notice.  What we see, time and again, is organizations opting for an HTML5 or hybrid app and getting bitterly disappointed with their customers’ response. The companies who put out native apps, on the contrary, gain an instant competitive advantage.

Case in point: Delta’s native Fly Delta app and its superior performance vs. its competitors’ web-based apps.  Customers who fly frequently rely on user-friendly, native functions to quickly get information, submit itinerary changes, check in, or perform other actions.  Web (HTML5) apps simply do not provide the smooth experience native apps are famous for.  Domino Pizza, likewise, managed to dazzle users with its overhauled native app, leaving its competitors to play catch-up.

Why do Native Apps Stand Out?

Let’s look at some differences between the dominant mobile strategies currently in play in enterprises.

Mobile Website

Pros:

  • A quick option for making existing content available via a mobile device.
  • Only needs to be built once and would be usable for every device.
HTML5 vs Native: expected load time

Source: Econsultancy

Cons:

  • Inferior user experience: users expect their mobile experience to be unique: a compelling user interface; unique functions taking advantage of mobile device hardware; relevant push messaging. These are drastically limited with mobile websites, which are primarily meant to simply display information.
  • Inferior performance: Lengthy load times and inability to function in offline or low-bandwidth mode can be a major turn-off.
  • It’s an app world! A mobile website would limit the users’ ability to deeply engage with your brand. According to Flurry, mobile users spend 86% of their time on mobile inside apps rather than inside the browser.

HTML5 or Hybrid Mobile App

Pros:

  • A mobile app built with HTML5 or similar technology can give you the ‘space’ on a user’s phone that can be used to bridge some of the gaps between native apps and a mobile website.
  • HTML5 or hybrid (wrapped) apps are an attractive route for internal teams that have web development skills and want to build mobile apps to provide additional engagement.

Cons:

  • A HTML5 app is, essentially, a mobile website wrapped in ‘sheep’s clothing.’ All the UX/performance issues outlined above will still apply. As these apps require consistent internet connection, they limit the users’ capability to utilize them in low/no bandwidth areas.
  • These apps will be built with the exact same function for every device; with no unique functions that users have come to expect in a mobile experience.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has acknowledged that betting on HTML5 was his biggest mistake with mobile.

Native Mobile App

HTML5 vs Hybrid vs Native It has become common knowledge that custom, native mobile apps provide the best user experience with the most functionality available.

Pros:

  • Rich UI and smooth, engaging user experience
  • Use of cutting edge device capabilities
  • Faster load times compared to web apps
  • Robust performance in online or offline mode
  • Better discoverability and brand image
  • Superior security compared to HTML5

Cons:

  • Require development for each mobile platform
  • Native development skills are expensive!

Native Apps Don’t Have to be a Hassle

The MobileSmith platform allows you to take advantage of the custom native apps while eliminating both the concerns of higher costs and internal capability.

  • Non-developers can create, deploy, and manage multiple custom, native mobile apps.
  • Get apps to market at a much lower cost in a much shorter time than regular native development.
  • Easily connect your native apps to your databases via XML or REST/JSON APIs.

In short, you can have it all – without compromise – and advance your organization’s mobile strategy with a sleek portfolio of customer- and employee-facing apps.

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