The Effect of HTML5 on Mobile Strategy

November 22nd, 2011 by

A few months back, Mobile Marketer, the news leader in mobile marketing, media and commerce, approached us about writing an piece for their annual Classic Guide to Mobile Commerce. I am excited to share with you the fruits of this collaboration — an article titled “The Effect of HTML5 on Mobile Strategy” (and written by yours truly). HTML5, the fifth iteration of the HTML standard, has been one of those hot buzzwords for quite some time now, and for good reasons. The technology behind HTML5 has the framework to fundamentally change how we interact with the web, from both our desktop and mobile devices — we’ve actually covered the topic a few times in our blogging past.

You can find “The Effect of HTML5 on Mobile Strategy” article below. I also highly recommend downloading the entire Classic Guide to Mobile Commerce, which features many intelligent and thought-provoking pieces about the current state of m-commerce. Enjoy!


The Effect of HTML5 on Mobile Strategy

While 2010 was the year of the application, 2011 shaped up to be the year of mobile Web. This is largely due to enthusiasm for HTML5 and its promise to bring the “write once, deliver everywhere” guarantee that Web browsers have historically delivered to PCs, as well as the ability to deliver an app-like experience across all browsers.

Brands, retailers and marketers are quickly realizing that mobile Web provides the broad reach and flexibility that is critical for reaching today’s consumers at a fraction of the cost of native applications. And who does not want to reach their target audience in an efficient and effective manner?

What is HTML5?

There has been a lot of confusion around HTML5. In the last year, the term became practically synonymous with flashy (pun intended) Web sites and mobile sites that use CSS3 and JavaScript. In reality, HTML5 is simply the latest evolution of HTML, the language for structuring and presenting content for the World Wide Web.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) oversees the specifications of HTML, and due to the scope of specification and general nature of standards bodies, work has progressed slowly for the last few years, with completion estimated in the spring of 2014. Nonetheless, as details of the specification are released, these features are incorporated by browser makers and used by mobile Web developers to do things such as store data locally (much more than can be done with cookies), grab location from the device and enable a canvas, letting developers create an experience that historically was only available using Flash.

Here are a few HTML5 features proving why those of us in mobile Web development are so excited about this standard:

• Geo-location – simplifies the pinpointing of location by giving access to GPS API on the handset.

• Canvas – allows for 2D drawing and shapes, making it possible to create graphs, animations and games.

• Embedded audio and video – enables seamless access to multimedia content within a Web page.

• File access – provides access to photos, audio files, email attachments and other files on your device straight from the browser.

• Improved form-based input – supports line-of-business applications, with complicated input and data validation directly from browser.

• Offline caching and local storage – enables Web apps to function like native apps by accessing information saved to the client, even when there is no Internet connection.

• Web workers – speeds up processing of site content without hurting its performance by running background scripts directly in the browser, but independently of user interface scripts.

Handset support

Today’s advanced smartphone browsers support select HTML5 enhancements, as well as JavaScript and CSS3. This enables companies to develop mobile sites that feature improved graphics and functionality for an app-like rich-media experience from a visual perspective. With the advent of HTML5, the mobile Web presents the best option for an effective, cross-platform strategy across all devices, putting you in control of your content at much less cost than native applications.

For these reasons and more, there is a lot of enthusiasm for HTML5. However, until it becomes a broadly supported standard, we probably will not see significant use of its functionalities beyond experimental sites.

Mobile Web as your anchor

If you have invested in developing a native app – do not worry – well-executed apps can be very impactful in delivering the wow factor and convenience well after its first use. But if a cool app is your showcase, then a mobile-optimized Web site is your utility. This is where people land when they enter your URL in their mobile browsers or discover your site by conducting a search. And a mobile site that seamlessly redirects from your direct domain is complementary to your broader marketing activities, since it can be easily tied into campaigns and programs via email, 2D bar codes, search engine marketing, social media, SMS blasts, mobile ads and other vehicles.

For these reasons alone, your mobile Web presence should be the anchor of your mobile strategy.

Many content owners and marketers are not waiting for HTML5 to be fully deployed. These marketers realize that even at its current state, the mobile Web presents a scalable and cost-effective way to reach customers across thousands of mobile devices in a meaningful manner. And with advanced mobile browsers supporting early HTML5 features, mobile Web sites can already serve a rich, app-like experience to almost half of consumers in the United States who use smartphone devices.

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2 Responses to “The Effect of HTML5 on Mobile Strategy”

  1. [...] you can also read my article from last year, “The Effect of HTML5 on Mobile Strategy“, written for Mobile Marketer’s Classic Guide to Mobile [...]

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