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Who Wants HTML5 to Succeed?

11/19/2010 5:45:29 PM

Yesterday I’ve had a short twitter-chat with Laurent Bugnion in response to this tweet:

image

This chat got me thinking about motivations of most of the biggest players driving HTML5 forward. Here’s what I think.

Apple

Apple resorts to praising HTML5 only when they need to justify why there’s no Flash (Silverlight, etc.) on iOS devices. In these cases HTML5 is the answer. But when it comes to comparing HTML5 apps to native iPhone apps there’s no comparison – native apps win hands down. And apparently there’s going to be an app store for the desktop Mac OSX. So Apple’s main interest is in controlling the apps (and I’m not even talking about sales revenue here) that run on top of it’s operating systems/hardware. I don’t see HTML5 fitting well into this plot.

Adobe

Adobe was close to world domination in RIA (or at least de-facto standard) up until Apple killed their dreams with the no-Flash debacle on iOS. And HTML5 was Apple’s weapon. I’m sorry but I’m not seeing Adobe as someone who want’s HTML5 to succeed.

Microsoft

Microsoft came up strong about HTML5 in IE9. It sounded strong enough for some people to pronounce Silverlight dead. But why would Microsoft want something that could run on Linux, Macs, etc. as well as on Windows to be a RIA platform of the future? I can see 2 answers here:

  1. they are confused and will come to their senses later;
  2. they will “extend” the standard to a point that “cool” apps run only on Windows.

Now in the second case that won’t be the HTML5 generating the buzz right now. That will be MSHTML5 or something.

Browser vendors

I’m not talking about Microsoft, Apple or Google here. I’m talking about the other 2 major browser vendors who have browsers at the core of their businesses: Mozilla and Opera. I don’t think they have any end-game in this. They are just trying to make great products that users would want to use to browse the web and what that web is will be decided by other players.

Google

That leaves us with Google. I believe they are the only big party that has a genuine interest in making HTML5 succeed as a cross-platform standard. After all they have the deepest current investment in the area with all of their awesome web apps, Chrome OS, Google TV, etc. But I doubt that they are strong enough to overcome the obstacles in form of above mentioned companies. After all Google is currently in direct competition with all of them, so why would they hand the torch to Google?

Conclusion

I think I’ll have to agree with Laurent’s statement. I believe there will be HTML5 “standard” in the near future, but it will be along the lines of what all the other HTML incarnations always were – good in theory but requires a lot of duct-tape to glue it all together into something working across browsers. And it will be up to enthusiasts (like the creators of libraries such as jQuery) to make it all kinda work.

I’d like to end this post with “History Repeating” by Propellerheads. Enjoy…

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