HTML5 v The App

By 12th December 2012August 7th, 2017Technology & Business Intelligence
HTML5 logo

This question is being asked by more and more clients when considering a mobile/tablet version of their ecommerce website or web system. While we can say there are pro’s and con’s of each method and debate about which method is going to win out, ultimately the client wants our opinion and advice.

What I have tried to do in this article is show some of our research into the different devices used by visitors to sites and how this can translate into an informed decision based on what is best for our clients visitors. After all they are the ones using it..

There is always a caveat and in this article it is that different ecommerce business sectors will require different functionality that may impact the decision based on performance of said functionality between HTML5 and a native app. Perhaps the functionality question will be another article …

For the data below I have taken the analytics data from one of our clients, this only offers a small snapshot of visitor device browsing for one client but gives an example of the research that can be undertaken to identify the best route for each business.

Desktop v Mobile Browsers

The graphic below shows the basic information on visitor split between desktop and mobile browsing.

Desktop Browser Usage: 72%
Mobile Browser Usage: 28%

Mobile OS Specific Data

So what does this show us…? That iOS devices (Apple) are dominating this clients visitor base by an average of 10x as many visits than any other device operating system

Apple Device Data

Now we know that Apple are dominating this client’s mobile browsing base we can go into what specific device their visitors are using …

55-65% of Apple device visitors are using their iPad to view their website

Targeting Visitors

Now we know what users are accessing the site using we can just target those, in this case lets create an iPad native app… right?

If you are OK with not providing a mobile interface for 45% of your mobile traffic then its OK… remember that 55-65% is only iOS visitors, don’t forget the others!

They could create an iPhone native app which can be used on iPad – but is that the impression of quality they want to pass on to the visitor …


There are a number of different factors to take into consideration when looking at what type of mobile interface to offer your visitors.

  1. What sector are you in
  2. Average age of end user
  3. Site analytics data
  4. Trending mobile data
  5. What is your mobile platform project budget
  6. Return on investment (eComm store: are people more likely to buy through an iPad app than iPhone app?)

As mentioned previously I haven’t looked at the functional requirements with what is needed from the mobile interface. Both HTML5 and native apps do have their own pro’s and con’s but the dominating emergence of HTML5 and adoption by all modern browsers, and its rapid growth combined with the growth of Android thanks in part to the Samsung galaxy SIII, are we seeing the demise of the native app? Should you spend time developing 2 native apps or focus on HTML5 for all platforms?

As Cilla Black used to say: The Choice Is Yours..