At the start of the mobile era, smartphones were clunky and incapable of dealing with regular PC-focused websites.
Organisations that wanted a slice of the mobile pie needed to develop mobile-specific websites, with content and design adjusted for viewing on smaller screens using less powerful hardware.
Then the era of apps began when Apple launched its iPhone, soon followed by Google’s Android operating system. Now users didn’t need to visit mobile websites any longer. Instead they could download an app which, on top of the content provided by mobile websites, could also contain extra functionality, thus providing a much richer user experience.
The problem with apps is that they are platform-specific. An iPhone app will not work on an Android phone. Blackberry users need to download different apps that are specifically developed for that platform. Nokia faces the same issue.
While some mobile companies such as Apple are quite happy with this business model, others aren’t. There is a real risk of total domination of the mobile market by a few large players, as mobile apps gravitate towards one or two platforms and all others fall by the wayside.
But there is a solution. A new technology that allows for the creation of mobile websites that have a rich user experience on par with (or even exceeding that of) apps, and that work on every single mobile platform. This technology is HTML5, and it is destined to revolutionise the mobile web.
Instead of having to invest in recreating the same app several times for different platforms, an organisation can now build one feature-rich mobile website in HTML5 and it will work on all modern mobile phones. More than that, it will also work on every connected device that contains a web browser – including PCs.
No longer will you need to cater individually to each online platform you want to be visible on. Now you can build one online presence using HTML5, and the user experience you have designed will work everywhere, for everyone.
Some corporations are against this trend. Apple specifically, bloated on the riches provided by sales of iPhones, iPads, and iTunes apps, doesn’t want this one-size-fits-all online utopia to become reality. But other companies, especially those feeling Apple’s heat, are working hard to enable this HTML5 web.
If you are about to embark on the road to mobile apps, you should make sure you are future-proofing your mobile strategy. Ask yourself what do you want to accomplish on the short term and on the long term, and decide which technology best suits those goals.
Barry Adams is the Senior Digital Marketer for Search at Pierce Communications in Belfast