Appcelerator: developers disappointed with HTML5, Facebook’s mobile strategy

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By Kathleen De Vere Comment

Unsatisfactory experiences are turning mobile app developers off HTML5 and away from Facebook reports Appcelerator.

The mobile app development platform provider polled over 5,000 of its customers for its Q3 2012 Mobile Developer report. According to Appcelerator principle mobile strategist Mike KIng, almost 60 percent of his company’s customers have tried working with HTML5, but technical issues are quickly souring feelings towards the platform.

“We get a lot of our customers come to us after they try and do something in HTML5 and they say they just can’t accomplish the things that they need to do from an application perspective — whether it be UI, security or distribution — with HTML5,” says King.

Appcelerator’s customers ranked themselves as neutral to dissatisfied with HTML5’s performance on seven out of nine standard development platform features. The least popular feature was monetization, with 83.4 percent of developers indicating they were either neutral or dissatisfied with HTML5’s performance, followed by security (81.8 percent either neutral or dissatisfied), then fragmentation (75.4 percent neutral or dissatisfied).

Appcelerator developers were also disappointed with Facebook’s mobile strategy. 66 percent of those polled believe the company — which recently backed away from its HTML5-focused mobile strategy in favor of native app development, likely due to the same problems Appcelerator developers identified with the platform — is at risk of disruption from a mobile-centric social network.

“The majority of developers feel that Facebook has not done a good job at interfacing with them, enabling them or giving them tools,” explains King. “They need to have a much more prescriptive engagement model with developers. They can’t just do what they’ve done in the past, which is say ‘here’s the graph, have at it!’ That doesn’t give developers meaningful ways to interact with the social graph — that’s just a library of APIs.”

According to King, Facebook’s has made a misstep with its mobile strategy so far, which has been centered around making a smaller version of the Facebook website to mobile via an HTML5-based app. “If you think about it, you’re going to access Facebook more frequently on your mobile device than you will on your home computer. If the frequency of interaction is higher, you want to make sure that interaction is rich, compelling and contextual,” he says. Facebook’s earlier decisions to develop its iOS, Android and mobile web apps differently have also negatively impacted developer’s opinions of the company.

Facebook has made strides to improve its mobile experience recently, ditching HTML5 when it upgraded its iOS app to version 5.0 and committing to an accelerated Android app development schedule, but it appears both shareholders and developers are still dubious about the company’s mobile expertise.

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