Native Apps vs. HTML5: What’s the Right Strategy for Publishers?

HTML5 LogoRecently at a San Francisco tech conference, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg rocked the HTML5 world by saying he was scrapping what many believe to be the cornerstone of modern web applications, “We burned through two years on that. It probably was the biggest strategic mistake we made.”

Wow!  Where does that leave the rest of the world that is moving in the direction of HTML5?

It leaves us right where we need to be – on the road to more affordable, transportable and flexible applications than what native apps offer us today.

Sure, HTML5 is still in development and it no doubt has some hiccups that come with being in its infancy.  But in our opinion, throwing out the baby with the bathwater seems like a rather shortsighted approach.

At NewspaperDirect, we believe there is a better way.  Let’s take a look at HTML5 versus native apps.

Native apps are powerful, providing publishers with a secure way to sell their content, enhanced with rich media and very cool features, online or off.

But with every silver lining there is often a storm cloud brewing.  And with today’s newspaper and magazine apps, publishers are already feeling the effects of a fully fledge app storm.

The money they thought they’d save in marketing and selling their apps (through the convenience of app stores) is now being spent on developing different apps for every different platform and paying through the nose for the privilege of selling their content in ecosystems like iTunes.  But the worst part of it is the loss of their customer data in these walled ecommerce-enabled gardens.  Frankly, that stinks!

HTML5 certainly isn’t perfect (yet) and there are some valid concerns about its lack of rich media capabilities, sluggish performance and offline limitations.  But this Work-In-Progress (WIP) still has much to offer.

HTML5:

  • Delivers a consistent look and feel across all devices and browsers
  • Offers much lower development costs than native apps
  • Erases the lengthy process of submitting an app and waiting for approval by a 3rd party
  • Updates web apps immediately across all platforms without the need for users to download and install the latest updates for each platform
  • Has no walled ecosystem which overtaxes publishers and restricts their access to customer data

So what’s a publisher to do when there are pros and cons to both options?

The answer in one word…HYBRID!

Powered by NewspaperDirect, Kiosko y Más (KyM), Spain’s largest digital newsstand, has already integrated the capabilities of both HTML5 and native apps into one powerful aggregated portal of content.  KyM is an HTML5-based application which offers feature-rich digital replicas of the printed editions with full offline capabilities.

Titles are also enriched with online content including video, audio, galleries, for both editorial and advertorial content.  No wonder this newsstand won several awards in just its first year of operation, such as:

Check it out…

So why wait for HTML5 to reach maturity before taking the next step in mobile app development?  ND certainly isn’t!  In its commitment to offer its publishing partners the best of both worlds, ND is evolving  its award winning application, PressReader (and companion website, PressDisplay.com) into an HTML5/native hybrid app which will be available in 2013.  New SmartEditions are already in the works based on this new platform.

We’d love to talk to you in more detail about what ND is doing with HTML5 and why it is so important to magazine and newspaper publishers who need to reach their readers on every screen affordably, quickly and securely.  We invite you to contact us at publishing@newspaperdirect.com to learn more and a sneak peek into ND’s next generation ePublishing Solutions.