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Facebook Punts on HTML5, What Does That Mean for You?

By Product Management | September 24, 2012

CATEGORIES: Mobile Quality

1107charlie_brown_lucy_footballMark Zuckerberg recently mentioned that "betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native" was a mistake made by Facebook.

What does that mean for HTML5?

In a nutshell nothing. Even though Zuckerberg sites "HTML5 just wasn't there", you have to put it in the proper context for Facebook which is different than most Enterprise companies.

Being the pinnacle technology company, Facebook is trying to squeeze every ounce of performance from their mobile application experience. And when you have something akin to "unlimited" resources, you can make decisions that others in a different situation cannot.

Maybe this decision doesn't mesh with Facebook's long term vision, and maybe it was very expensive and will cause them extra development time and effort in the future. All of that doesn't matter in the short term if they can make their users happy now. Even if you make the argument that they "didn't do HTML5 correctly", it doesn't really change anything. In the end they have an app that most will agree works great and seems to be an improvement over what they had before, so in this case "the ends justify the means".

So if you're an Enterprise company should you follow Facebook's lead and ditch HTML5 for native?

Unless you are totally stuck on a problem that can't be solved by HTML5, or you are a company where fractions of a second have significant value, you should probably stick to what you are doing now. If a mobile banking customer has to wait "a tiny bit longer" to get their account balance from an HTML5 app versus native, I don't think that is going to cause them to close their account and move to another bank with a native app.

For Facebook, the short-term benefits of their decision outweigh the possible harm, but Facebook is in a different world than the rest of us. Most companies need to balance "customer delight" with what is affordable, doable, and sustainable over the long haul. That means HTML5 will probably take most companies further down the road than some alternate strategy.

Maybe there will be a day when we see an announcement like: "Facebook switches back to HTMLx......"

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