Forrester Research is recommending developers continue developing rich Internet applications and take long pause before embracing HTML 5. For Forrester, HTML 5 is still many years away from becoming a standard in the market and fully functional across multiple platforms.
The analyst recommendation reflects on Google's mobile strategy, which CEO Eric Schmidt says is rooted in the company's support for HTML 5.
This topic is of real interest now as Apple has dropped support for Adobe Flash. Google is forging ahead with support for HTML 5 but is also playing all sides as Flash remains the incumbent technology for online video.
So though its commitment is to HTML 5, the company still faces the reality that adoption for platforms such as .NET remain high. Analyst Jeffrey Hammond writes in his report:
"These trends underline a key hurdle that HTML 5 technology must overcome to be a ready substitute for today's RIA platform options; users expect it to be as low cost as the other options, but to be of use it must also integrate with Java and .NET server technology. Even if HTML 5 turns out to be a great spec when it reaches Candidate Recommendation state in 2012, it's not clear that this alone will be enough to reverse current RIA adoption trends."
In the meantime, Google is debating if it should develop native applications for different platforms. A Google Docs product manager said to us recently that the company has not decided if they should invest in native applications for different mobile platforms.
Last week at Google Atmosphere, Schmidt was emphatic about Google's interest in HTML 5.
Also at Google Atmosphere, Google Apps President David Girouard moderated a discussion that touched on the HTML 5 issue. In Vint Cerf's view, the "Internet of Things," will evolve to the point where more "things," will go on the smart grid. Speeds will increase at the edges of the network, making downloads to a web page almost simultaneous. What this seems to mean is that we will see the borders between apps and the Web dissolve. There may even be the evolution of new networks that are different than the Web itself. In view of what they say, there is no clear dismissal of different platforms. It's more how mobile apps and the Web blend together.
Forrester is critical of the draft HTML 5 spec. Hammond states cites the deep developer use of existing rich Internet application platforms.
From his report:
"Will HTML 5 make rich Internet application (RIA) technologies such as Adobe Flash/Flex and Microsoft Silverlight obsolete? For at least the next five years, the answer is a definite "no"; inconsistent implementations of the draft HTML 5 specification and immature tooling make building HTML 5 apps that work consistently across browsers and operating systems a real challenge. Furthermore, this "either/ or" scenario is driven only by vendor politics, not by developer realities. Ultimately, HTML 5 and RIA platforms will be complementary technologies, and enterprise development shops will need to invest in both approaches to deliver expressive applications that combine reach and richness."
It is a little tiring when we hear the war of words over apps versus the Web. What will win? Probably neither. It will just depend on the demands of the market, the views of the developer and the powers they decide to follow.