Mark Zuckerberg's appearance at the most recent TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco was easily one of the biggest highlights from the event. He spoke on a variety of different topics — ranging from the status of the declining stock to current hot startups he's really high on. But the insight that piqued our interest was his discussion on HTML5 and the Facebook mobile app.
It was hard to miss TechCrunch's bold headline, declaring: "Mark Zuckerberg: Our Biggest Mistake Was Betting Too Much on HTML5." From this, it's easy to gather that Zuck is not on board with HTML5 at all.
For the most part, Facebook's brand-new native iOS app has seen nice adoption and more user activity. Zuckerberg said people are consuming twice as many feed stories since the latest app update, a peek into the impact that a faster app can provide.
The Full Story
You're likely familiar with our stance on designing native apps vs. designing for the responsive web. While both are massively important in our multi-device world, we ultimately believe the responsive web will win over the long term.
To get an accurate idea of how Zuckerberg approaches the HTML5 vs. Native debate, a person simply can't rely upon the TechCrunch headline. It would be akin to judging a book by its cover. While Mark acknowledged that HTML5 wasn't the best choice for the iOS product, it turns out he's actually quite bullish on HTML5 in the future.
His full quote (via Tobie Langel):
When I'm introspective about the last few years I think the biggest mistake that we made, as a company, is betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native ... because it just wasn't there. And it's not that HTML5 is bad. I'm actually, on long term, really excited about it. One of the things that's interesting is we actually have more people on a daily basis using mobile Web Facebook than we have using our iOS or Android apps combined. So mobile Web is a big thing for us.
A Correct Mobile Approach?
The sheer fact that mobile Web use is so high — especially for a company with Facebook's widespread impact — is one reason why it's crucial to design a solution that scales across devices. Our responsive front-end framework, Foundation, is one way that a designer can do this. The bottom line: We prioritize the mobile web because we realize it won't go away.
We're still on board with native solutions. In fact, we have a few native options of our own, including the recently-released Notable iPhone Uploader. Native apps empower developers to integrate features that take advantage of the most advanced device capabilities into their applications. Solely relying upon native applications, however, is a losing battle. New devices, iterations and screen sizes sprout up daily, and the odds are stacked against any designer to keep up.
As more and more devices emerge, the HTML5 vs. native debate will continue on. In any case, we're focusing our efforts on designing for the responsive web.