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HTML5 vs Native: The Debate is Over

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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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.

mobilesmith demo
By | 2016-11-18T14:56:41+00:00 May 20th, 2015|Blog, Mobile Strategy|13 Comments

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  • wert

    We must also consider the purpose/intent of the app for decision making, if an app is for just displaying content/articles (eg., Feedly) that also gets updated frequently then a hybrid app would be best bet. UX is defintely also a factor but it shouldn’t be the only factor for deciding as html frameworks in addition to native support (webkit with Nitro,polymer,offline cache etc.,) are available to improve the UI on hybrid/web apps. Moreover none of the native apps (except for gaming though) can work completely offline. Moreover there are platforms available to provide push notification on web using javascript. So app’s purpose and how much native features required to be leveraged all those must be considered and not always native implementation fits.

    • True – most BRANDED apps, however, are created for the purpose of customer engagement, and native UI/UX is very important. Besides, if you have the tools to create a native app for less cost and within less time typically spent on a HTML5 app, why even consider the latter as an alternative.

  • Cristiano Andaló Tenuta

    Design is design. Code is Code. From my developer/coder perspective, the native way bring us now the opportunity to totally separate this worlds without this man in the middle (web designer). Trust me I prefer to get a raw PSD, cut and place all the images in the respective layout for each platform instead to have to deal with CSS hacks to make a simple layout works on all browsers. For me this is the more obvious and logic way to go. Another point is, why I have to wait to some third party developer do some code so I can use a hardware new feature. Not to mention the security issue of relying on these third-party developments and browser use, especially in the Android platform that allows apks be manually installed. So from my perspective I wish long live to native development and app stores.

  • nativescript for the win

  • Satish Mavani

    Any app must be comfortable for your eye first and then to your finger too…
    And that is possible 100% with native only.

    Native always wins in this battle.

  • Jeri Vespoli

    It’s an app world because we allowed Apple to make it one. I, for
    one, am over searching for and downloading apps and updates. Truly customer-focused, market-driven organizations and coders would work to build the native pros into html capabilities to improve the mobile web experience, and skip the app
    stores. Sorry Apple, MS and Android…I see your monetization
    of loyalty play, and raise you the always-winning significantly improved
    customer value.

  • Homer

    Was this written be someone who actually knows technology? “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.” Not even close dude. The HTML is embedded in the app no internet required. Go read up on Cordova and get your facts straight. 1 out of every 100 people would be able to identify an HTML 5 app using JQuery Mobile from a Native mobile app.

    • Justinyp

      Indeed and most browsers support push messaging, In addition. web apps offers off line mode, local DB, ….The writer may want to get updated info or consult with developers before publishing.

  • Vincent

    “We at mobilesmith have done research and it turns out that you are better off using our product…”

    Sounds legit.

  • Thank you for sharing your article. This is very informative article to HTML5 and hybrid mobile apps development.
    Keep it up.

  • Kevin Van Ryckegem

    I suggest taking a look at Ionic. There are a few things wrong with this article. Hybrid frameworks are evolving.

  • Ashish Gupta

    very good article and gives simple & clear message , today’s developers want to save time and wish to give similar experience to end users, App world started years ago…

    IMO hybrid is best mid way and HTML5 is powerful language opinion is limited to feature phone, low end android phone.. So no harm in trying for hybrid html 5 route and get user’s feedback and responses.. before starting the lengthy and expensive native app.

  • Ok

    This article addresses old concerns regarding mobile development. The future isn’t about web app vs native app. The future is about technologies like instant-run, on-demand app streaming, progressive design, etc. PWA’s (progressive web apps) are already in use and both Apple and Google are developing other said technologies. Ultimately, end-users won’t know what is native code and what’s not… heck, do they even know now? The big questions lay in how will Apple and Google re-model their app stores. If an end-user can avoid installation steps, why not? And if a developer can be freed of some of the strict rules and fee’s of the traditional app stores, why not? Granted Apple and Google will still have their fingers in somehow, but as the web grows, do you really think it’s going to stay trapped in walled-gardens? You’re going to have “certified apps” that can be installable from a simple secure proprietary URL, which have nothing to do with any app store.