Over the years since Apple started their app craze I always felt that most of these apps were poor excuses for Low-Fi website frontends. I am not talking about games but rather actual apps. This has not stopped more and more apps from being released on multiple platforms fragmenting things further and further. HTML5 holds some real promise in bringing the full power of the web with app-like benefits. The reason is pretty simple and Dave Winer sums it up perfectly in his rant on “why apps are not the future” by simply stating the obvious advantage… “Linking”
Visualize each of the apps they want you to use on your iPad or iPhone as a silo. A tall vertical building. It might feel very large on the inside, but nothing goes in or out that isn’t well-controlled by the people who created the app. That sucks!
The great thing about the web is linking. I don’t care how ugly it looks and how pretty your app is, if I can’t link in and out of your world, it’s not even close to a replacement for the web. It would be as silly as saying that you don’t need oceans because you have a bathtub. How nice your bathtub is. Try building a continent around it if you want to get my point.
It seems like RIM is definitely agreeing with Winer on this one. They are putting a huge emphasis on a solid web browser and HTML5 support as their future app platform for BB10. Even on the PlayBook and other devices I find myself preferring solid websites over apps that try to replicate a subset of a websites features. I think Andy Gryc, QNX’s HTML5 guy, does a great job explaining why that makes a difference even to car manufacturers in this video:
I would take Winer’s argument one step further. The future cannot sustain the current model where every developer or service needs to create apps for every platform and form factor out there. The number of devices and fragmentation grows by the day making the “Apps” model untenable and linking them impossible. Developers are already feeling the strain of trying to launch features on multiple devices at the same time. Think of apps like Foursquare that need to first add a feature and then roll it out to all the different device variants out there with a service that would be better served as a HTML5 website or a bundled webapp.
What do you think?