Can HTML5 Web Apps Foster Cross Platform Tablet Computing?
Getting your app published in the Apple App Store can be an unnerving process, considering the Apple review panel may or may not approve your application. For the enterprise, Apple offers the ability to run and deploy internal applications on iOS without Apple approval, but that isn’t always ideal (and can be expensive). HTML5 web apps are emerging as an alternative to iOS apps, but are they the answer to crossing the divide between Apple platforms and the rest of the tabletsphere? Here’s some channel perspective for cloud-based VARs, ISVs and more…
Not too long ago, we reported Apple had relaxed the demands of developers who offer in-app purchases and subscriptions within their applications, removing the controversial requirement that in-app goods must be offered at the same price or less if they are offered outside the app. Now, developers can simply offer subscriptions to content outside the app, as long as the iOS app doesn’t contain a link to an external store to purchase the subscription. For example, Amazon complied with Apple’s rules by simply removing its “Kindle Store” button inside the Kindle app. Users can still easily access the Kindle Store on their iPhone from Safari — there just isn’t a direct link in the app.
Now Amazon has created yet another workaround by launching the HTM5-based Kindle Cloud Reader. With this web app, Amazon no longer has an obligation to Apple and can offer up any links, content or subscriptions to its users. That HTML5 cloud reader app isn’t just good for the iPad, it also eventually will be good for any device that can use HTML5. Although Chrome, Safari and Mobile Safari currently are the only supported platforms, it’s likely not much needs to be done for it to run on an Android tablet or more.
Similarly, Netflix rival VUDU has also decided to skip the app review process and go entirely web-app with its movie streaming service. It’s also based in HTML5 and, again, although the iPad initially is the only supported platform, it’s not inconceivable to see this on Android in the near future. Both companies have made an investment in the future of web technology, while simultaneously avoiding the “Apple tax” associated with any product or service that goes through the iTunes store.
Bigger channel picture? ISVs and cloud-based companies that are offering SaaS solutions should focus on adding a little HTML5 to their recipe. If your app or service relies on an Internet connection, it’s really no big issue if the software doesn’t reside locally. At the Sage Summit 2011, a number of vendors had taken this approach to tablet computing by offering web apps and services that were cross platform-compatible thanks to HTML5 or a similarly compatible web-standard approach. As consumerization of IT rolls along with the inevitable proliferation of cloud services, vendors should ensure their VAR, MSP or ISV strategy includes an HTML5-based offering. The app could be a network monitor, an IT admin tool kit or web-based document editing application. Whatever the case, now is the time to capitalize. Offering a mobile app is a gateway to greater sales, better productivity and happy customers that can rely on cross-platform compatibility for their users. Meanwhile, ISVs can ensure 100 percent return on investment without the fear of an Apple rejection or a cut from sales.
If you’re a VAR or ISV focusing on HTML5 development, drop us a note and tell us where you think the future of web apps is headed.