Saturday, September 03, 2011

The Times is a-changin. The mobile industry's greatest rebel? The Financial Times? YES!

Who would have thought that The Financial Times would lead the revolt against Big Brother?

Last week the expected happened: Apple's bouncers threw The Financial Times out of the iTunes mall. That's a lot of potential foot traffic that the publisher is missing out on. FT's crime to deserve such a punishment? Their desire for independence and freedom. And for maximized profits. And their desire to hold onto their own subscriber data. And to connect to the outside world from within Apple's domain.

The significance here is the use of HTML5 instead of using a native SDK. HTML5 looks like it has the potential to be a key enabler for simple and even rather complex applications. Take a look, for example, at Google Voice on an iOS device, and you'd think you're running a locally installed application. In an HTML5-world, every webpage as the potential to be an app.

FT is claiming success with its app-in-a-web-link approach. And other content owners and app developers are looking at this case very closely. With profit margins slim as things are, the ability to move outside of Apple's walled garden to keep the 30% commission that Apple takes could be an attractive option for content owners with strong name recognition.

Ironically, Apple is one of the key supporters of HTML5 development in the World Wide Web Consortium. But Apple is a pretty swift company, and while not historically very active in standardization, they see the need to influence the future rather than stick their heads in the sand.

For now, we need a couple more major publishers jumping to HTML5 and away from native apps before labeling this one a trend. Remember, three makes a trend.

But the times are a-changin.

It's time to change... or sink like a stone.


Dipankar said...

Will HTML5 make irrelevant the current battle of smartphone "ecosystems" and app stores?

Peter Bryer: Mobile Foresighter said...

Yes, it's ironic. With all the talk of "ecosystems," the equalizer is approaching to break down the walls during the coming years.

Check out the HTML5 version of "Angry Birds."

Rhidian said...

I'm curious as to the strange ambivalence of Apple over HTML5. As you say, they are a big supporter of it. When they didn't enable Flash on IoS, they explicitly promoted HTML5. And yet they now seem to be dropping FT's app *because* of HTML5.

Do you have any insights into what's causing the (seeming) schizophrenia?

Peter Bryer: Mobile Foresighter said...

HTML5 can dilute the significance of Apple's ecosystem. Or any particular ecosystem in general. Ideally, in an HTML5 world, the operating system (and app stores) takes a back seat to the browser and content.