Tuesday, June 7, 2011

HTML 5 compliant browsers, tablet sales, and the market

Keeping with the theme of HTML 5 alternatives to app development, here are a few thoughts about browser compliance and tablet sales.

Developers of media apps are always asking about the size of the market they are developing for, hinting that there is this sinking feeling that the market is still way too premature to generate the kinds of results they would like. Brian White, an analyst with Ticonderoga Securities, has projected that Apple has sold about 25 million iPad units, a very impressive number considering the tablet has only been on the market for 14 months, but still not much of a market compared to print or online.
So the solution du jour is creating HTML5 web app publications. The solution seems so obvious and natural – that is until you look at what browsers online readers are using, it's not a pretty picture.

Although there is some dispute online about which browsers are the most compliant with the HTML5 standards, as well as how important it is to be, in fact, very compliant, the fact of the matter is that only a relatively small portion of web surfers are using up-to-date, recently released web browsers.

According to Net Applications, nearly half of all users are still using old versions of Internet Explorer, only 4.19 percent having upgraded to IE9. Further, while the users of both Chrome and Firefox tend to instantly upgrade when a new version is released, their market share for their latest browsers is still under 20 percent – and adding in Safari doesn't even get you to one quarter of the market.

Of course, many publishers are considering HTML 5 developing as simply an alternative to the iPad, or as a way of reaching all tablet owners through their browsers, and there is some value in thinking this way, in my opinion. But the market is still defined by the number of tablets sold by Apple as we continue to wait for "soon-to-be-launched" tablets from the usual suspects.

All these facts might be kept in mind when considering throwing your app development efforts away in pursuit of glory through the web alone.