Why does Apple love HTML 5?

20 03 2011

There is an awful lot of talk and hype regarding HTML 5, with one of its main advocates being Steve Jobs and more importantly, Apple as a company…What so many don’t ask themselves is “why is Apple making a big push for something that essentially provides them no revenue”

 Apple often site HTML 5 as one of its reasons for not supporting Flash and Silverlight, stating they support the web free of plug-in technologies and want to ensure the web stays open source etc etc. Whenever I hear this it is so obvious that there is a different agenda, after all it makes no sense for Microsoft (with Silverlight) or Adobe (with Flash) to charge for these technologies, if they did, no one would use them and no websites would leverage them to deliver rich applications. What I continually find astonishing is the amount of so called journalists and bloggers that believe that Apple want a free, open web. Let’s remind ourselves, Apple exists to make money…

What’s in it for Apple?

Let’s ask ourselves, what’s in HTML 5 for Apple? I mean really in it for them? The answer is, Apps…

Now I may have lost you there, you probably thinking apps have nothing to do with HTML 5 as such, and you would be right. You see, HTML 5 is the future of the web for sure, and it will bring new life to the web with animiations, even video playback to an extent, (though we have this via Flash and Silverlight already, so nothing new to the web, just new to HTML). HTML 5 won’t make the web a “richer place”. You see, HTML 5 will still suffer the same limitations, namely running in a browser, the web architecture and the end user experience (not to mention cross browser compatibility issues, DDA compliance etc etc). This means websites wont be all singing and dancing apps, rather they will remain pretty much website experiences we have at the moment (well with a bit more “jazz” to them). You see, Apple is counting on the web going back to its roots more, and we are seeing this with many more websites looking cleaner, and simpler to meet certain compliancy issues and to make life easier for users (not to mention making life easier for developers when supporting all browsers across all platforms). What Apple doesn’t want is real rich applications to be delivered via HTML 5, well not the type that can compete with desktop based applications, or mobile apps.

Apple doesn’t want HTML 5 to be the wave of the future for application development because it can’t make money from that, rather it wants us all to have to “download” and use specific “apps” for platforms. Think the iPhone App store and you see what I am getting at.

Essentially one of the biggest reasons people opt for the iPhone is not because it’s the best looking phone, it has the so called best screen display (which it doesn’t) nor these days for its revolutionary touch screen and OS, no, it’s because of the App store, and the rich “internet” experiences these apps open the user up to.

Flash and Silverlight are technologies that can deliver “apps” via the internet and over the internet, cross platform, cross browser etc and all from the same code base. This is a real threat to Apple. After all, if I can write a great app using Silverlight and have it deployed with small mods to any form of device, then as a development company I have opened up my markets and saved money. This is a good thing. However, Apple now would have an app that, though rich and great on its platform, is just as good and readily available on other platforms. Which detracts from some of the appeal of its own product.

You see, Silverlght and Flash are real threats to Apples unique “app” store.

Here is an example of why Apps are the future and why Apple wants us all to love HTML 5.

How do you use Facebook on your mobile? Do you use a browser and the HTML version? Probably not because it’s too slow, clunky and the end user experience not that great. You use Facebook via your Facebook app for your mobile, which you downloaded from an App store (for apple, android or market place for windows). Apple take this further with the iPad, providing not just an app for your iPhone, but a slightly different app that works better on the iPad, the iPad being something that apparently is designed for web experiences on the go. Yet it still wants you to download apps, and, that is one of the reasons why Apple don’t want us to use Flash or Silverlight, because these technologies can deliver rich “apps” onto any platform potentially, not just specific to the iOS.

Today I watched an advert for sky news, and there was no mention of the sky news website, only that, for the very best experience, use the sky news iPad app…What does that tell you?

This confirms that Apple see Apps as a way of cornering the web market, especially when over 30% of web consumption was via mobile devices last year in the UK. The future of the web is reverting back to information based sites, with richer websites being delivered in HTML 5 yes, but real applications, and real rich intuitive experiences that work on multiple devices coming from dedicated apps.

Conclusion

Apple doesn’t want to supports Flash or Silverlight, if it did it means they have lost their app store edge. Imagine sky news delivering one solution for all platforms via Silverlight. The advert would have been “get the very best experience with our Sky News App, for iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone, Android and to your desktop”…Immediately, I don’t need to have an iPad to get the very best experience, rather I can choose which device, which OS, all of which detracts from Apple’s marketing and business plans in many may ways.

Apples tactics of using “content” to help us make the decision to purchase their hardware aren’t anything new. Look at how VHS beat off Beta-max? VHS was a lesser solution, but it had more content on it, and more to the point, content that was in high demand. Because of this, it meant users opted for the VHS platform as they then got the films they wanted, which meant Beta-max sales dropped until there was only one, VHS.

So while we all harp on about how great HTML 5 will be, we must remember that the big players (especially Apple) want it to succeed only to destroy Flash and Silverlight, which plays right back into their hands of delivering true rich experiences, only via their platform specific dedicated apps and app stores..And of course, we all do, so we will all be using apps to access the web…

I am a strong believer in the future of the web being Apps, as applications will always be able to potentially deliver far richer end user experiences. What I don’t want to see though is the need access the best experiences based on hardware and what is made available though an “App” store.  We should be able to access these apps directly from web pages, and opt for the mobile version, or the desktop version, or the slate version.

HTML 5 may be a way of lighting up HTML and making it richer, but it potentially could also be the way of forcing us all down the route of App stores and choosing hardware to best access web content. Now to me, that is not the point of HTML 5…

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IT Cliches

7 03 2011

Now I missed posting on Friday, which has meant I have spent all day itching to get a post up. To my delight I have just read a couple of posts on IT clichés and thought “now there’s a post in that”. So here are some of my favourite clichés I have heard in IT and what I think of them…

It comes preconfigured and can be implemented right out of the box

Now I don’t think I have seen any solutions that come preconfigured that meet 100% your business needs. Sure there are solutions that come out of the box, but they need configuration, and they will need input from your business decision makers, well if you want it to work that is.

Often this is a marketing phrase (not really one from IT people) which many CEOs walk right into. Really, “vanilla implementations”, do you really think that a solution will meet your needs 100% with no configuration needed? No input from your business users?

Integrate out of the box with our connectors

Connectors are a great concept, and for certain popular integration needs connectors work fine. However this is not really the norm, rather you will need integration with many different platforms to address a complete business need, as such connectors may not be available or they don’t give you the flexibility / level of integration you desire.

Be aware connectors are usually quite expensive, and they often still require a level of professional services. More often than not, its cheaper to shell out for a dedicated developer and get exactly the integration you need.

Don’t let IT systems dictate how business is done

Curious this one. This is 100% correct; business should dictate how business is done and look to IT to implement it. However, IT needs to inform the business of the possibilities and the options.

Most commonly you will hear CEOs or business decision makers making this statement. Yet they are the same people who then opt for “vanilla implementations” which by their nature dictate business practices. If you don’t want IT to dictate how business is done, then you need to opt for Adaptive Platforms and or be prepared to look for professional services to deliver bespoke IT development for you…Quite the opposite really of “pre configured vanilla implementation”

We have never seen our software / hardware implemented in the same way you have

This means one of two things. 1) The company who originally put your software / hardware in, knew absolutely nothing (in which case why are they allowed to put that software in). However, that being said, it is usually internal IT that has been asked to deliver this software and no budget was put aside for using an external consultancy to ensure it goes correctly. 2) The company you are speaking to now, know absolutely nothing about your set up or needs.

It takes three CIOs to implement an ERP project: one to sell it, one to implement it, and one to make it work

Load of rubbish. Unemployed CIOs favourite cliché

It should be simple

This is my favourite. Often business decision makers, with a little knowledge or understanding of IT will make this statement when talking to a consultancy or IT in general. This is because they don’t actually grasp all that actually is going on; rather they just see the surface of the requirement. Worse, they may have seen it implemented elsewhere and forget just how much was invested to make it work that well (or they don’t know)

How can it cost that much

Brilliant, this follows on from “It should be simple”. Unfortunately IT can get complex, so in many cases business underestimates the actual cost of something. Though that being said, quite often business needs to ensure IT isn’t pulling the wool over its eyes (great argument for in house IT specialists, ETAs for example)

Little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing

When I first started in IT, one of the guys coming up for retirement used to say this a hell of a lot. In essence, people who think they know about IT (or anything) but actually don’t have that much knowledge are very dangerous people. Often they make poor decisions that have a massive impact on an IT solution or business in general. Beware these people; try to educate those around them so the blind doesn’t lead the blind…

Just give them an iPad

It seems to raise productivity; we just now hand out iPads or Blackberry phones. Not really going to help productivity, and it’s quite an expense for what? I have seen so many users with iPads and they are doing the most basic of tasks, unable to do more because the iPad can’t do more. This means that actually they are more productive than having no iPad, but less productive than having a netbook, which cost half as much…

While mobile computing is great and can really improve services and productivity, we need to start thinking about the actual tasks we need to perform on the go, and use the right mobile devices. Just because an iPad looks great and does certain things well, doesn’t mean it is the right device to use.

Delivered on time and to budget

Typically this means the initial release was on time, and to budget. An initial release may actually only cover though a subset of the actual requirements, and there may well be a lot more work to be done, and subsequent releases to be made. This isn’t always true; from time to time you will find organisations who deliver everything as desired on time, just read the small print before you take their word…

No one ever got fired for purchasing XYZ

This usually means purchase some IT software and justify its need. Unfortunately this leads to many IT solutions being under utilised, which essentially diminishes their ROI. Again, another strong argument for in house IT or using a consultancy to manage your IT strategy. Business decision makers need to be aware of what software is already available, before purchasing more software.