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业内话题:HTML5应用击败原版手机应用胜算几何?

发布时间:2011-04-09 08:45:06 Tags:,,,

在过去20年,移动行业一直受困于手机平台分裂性、设备技术和运营区域标准不一等问题,但新兴的HTML5技术的出现,开始让业内看到一丝曙光,不少人认为它将带来一个前所未有的开放、自由和广阔的移动网络。

HTML5的虔诚布道者笃信,这项新技术必将在两年内占胜仅限运行一个手机平台的原版应用。

谷歌Chrome操作系统项目主管Sundar Pichai也很认同“拥有巨大优势的移动网络”终会超越原版手机应用模式的这个说法,另一名手机应用开发专家Mike Rowehl则补充表示,“我们甚至可能会忘记自己是经过了原版应用时代,才走上了移动网络之路。”

在这个转型过程中,美国和海外市场都正经历移动经济的高速发展。手机已然成为支配人们生活的第二个大脑,许多用户都在狂热地搜索最智能的手机。大小企业也正争相投入重金,建立自己的智能手机势力范围。

对网络内容发行商来说,HTML5的降临无疑是一个福音,因为这项新技术支持他们一次性开发产品,然后通过互联网浏览器传递到多个手机平台。在他们看来,HTML5技术的胜利有助于节省数十亿美元的开发成本,以便他们将这些省下来的资金投入到其他更具创新性、生产力的项目。

html5

html5

HTML5应用通过谷歌搜索引擎即可获取,这意味着它的普及率极高,有望覆盖数十亿的用户。除此之外,这类应用还可与第三方数据或应用混合,允许访问流量追踪工具等分析服务,并且可兼容于广告服务器匹配技术。开发者不需要借助他人帮助,就可以自由发布HTML5应用,现在已有调查称许多用户更青睐这种技术提供的便捷服务(游戏邦注:这是由Adobe委托执行的一项调查,而该公司支持网页应用的立场已是人尽皆知)。

HTML5即第5代超文本标记语言(HyperText Markup Language,它是一种创建网页的编码语言)的简称,支持开发者通过移动网络的浏览器发布内容,避开了手机设备芯片、图形卡及其他配件的限制(而这些正是原版应用运行所依赖的运行条件)。目前许多手机的浏览器都将通过4G或LTE网络进行运营,而这些正是HTML5技术发挥优势的有利环境。因此,随着HTML5技术的发展,不少公司有可能停止开发原版应用。

可以说,HTML5技术是个应运而生的产物,但也有反对者认为,HTML5的胜利仍然是个未知数,毕竟这项新技术还存在运行速度、访问蓝牙等手机功能等方面的软肋。HTML5在今后一年中究竟会有何成就,很大程度上取决于苹果的态度,因为苹果一直是原版应用的最大捍卫者,自然也就是HTML5的头号天敌。有人认为,在这场原版应用 VS. HTML5大战中,苹果扮演的是《黑暗骑士》中的Joker这个反派角色,而谷歌则理所当然地成了伸张正义的蝙蝠侠。

html5-native

html5-native

这一切还得从2007年苹果发布首款iPhone时说起——乔布斯的这个新产品打破了运营商垄断手机内容市场的格局,它支持开发者绕过运营商的控制,自由创建并通过App Store销售应用。苹果也因此连续两年一路遥遥领先,成为推动应用领域发展的掌舵者。苹果平台的光明发展前景,使许多开发者纷纷开始学习Objective-C(苹果iPhone编程框架)及其他开发工具,这一群体也因此晋升为最早的苹果开发者特权阶级。步入2011年后,苹果更是加紧步伐,不遗余力地推动原版应用的发展,以扩大HTML5应用与原版应用之间的差距。

虽然iPhone让开发者掌握了更多主动权,但从对待HTML5的态度上看,苹果又成了一个控制欲极强、保守而专制的主宰者。这一点并不难理解,毕竟现在的局面对苹果最为有利,这不只是因为App Store应用销售额抽成30%让它获利丰厚,iPhone以及现在势头正旺的iPad设备的销售额,也因App Store的成功运营而水涨船高,推动苹果成为全球身价最高的企业之一。从每一个方面都可以看出,苹果正致力于限制HTML5在其硬件设备上运行,不过它究竟有什么锦囊妙计可抑制HTML5却仍然有待观望,但不可否认的是,还是有许多人相信苹果仍然会是最终赢家。

不管苹果如何宣扬原版应用的优势,我们还是可以看到谷歌正迎头赶上,逐步缩小与苹果的差距。以下是原版应用与HTML5在某些功能上的对比优势,但需要指出的是,大部分内容是HTML5已经可实现的功能,还有一些方面是HTML5正在追赶的功能,另外一些则是HTML5计划赶上的功能,并且这一情况在最近一两年内就可能发生。

·控触/手势界面(Touch/gestural interfaces)——Sencha公司等HTML5框架服务供应商已在运用手势控触技术。图片轮播、scrolling lists、disclosure panels和相关小部件等需通过触摸、划动手指来控制的UI组件,均可在HTML5网页上实现。Sencha等供应商的解决方案还能帮助去除返回按钮、刷新按钮、传送链接、书签以及其他台式电脑网页无法完整翻译到移动网页的“错误性”功能。

·Visual Scale——HTML5完全可以解决这方面的问题。HTML5网页已可根据屏幕大小、图片大小和分辨率的情况,提供相应的用户体验。

·Video/Audio——现在HTML5已可通过持续回放解决这类问题,但较短的声效音频同步还是得在浏览器中才能实现。

·Graphics & FX——原版应用在某些方面的确更胜一筹,在图像质量要求较高的内容上尤其如此。高图象质量的游戏在HTML5上的渲染效果暂时还比不上原版应用。不过Sencha等供应商的技术却能够有效提高运行速度,例如通过嵌入一个地图组件,加快地图的加载速度,这可以解决谷歌地图或其他网站加载速度过慢的问题。

·访问视频文件-—–HTML5可处理从Android移动设备上的网页抓取来的图片或照片(游戏邦注:据称最新版Androidr操作系统Honeycomb的运行设备已可实现这一功能,但iPhone平台还不行)。

·访问通讯录——多数手机应用才刚开始通过云服务,而非设备客户端获取通讯录文件夹,HTML5可以解决这一问题。

·访问加速计——这也是HTML5可以实现的功能。

·访问蓝牙功能——这是HTML5暂无法解决的问题之一。但要知道,即使是原版手机应用,其访问蓝牙的功能也非常有限。

·离线运行功能——如果得到了用户许可,开发者可以使用50MB的数据库空间,以便HTML5网页应用在离线状态下运行。

·应用商店服务功能(应用检索、更新、支付&信用)——HTML5应用不但可通过HTML5及Chrome应用商店等渠道销售,甚至还可以通过苹果App Store、Android Market或黑莓App World发布,前提是得给它们披上一层Nimblekit或Webworks之类的原版应用“马甲”。

·在背景执行和发送通知——HTML5已推出针对这些功能的技术说明,但它们还没有被主流浏览器所采纳。如果套上一层原版应用的外壳,HTML5可以实现这一点,这表明它仍需借助外力才能执行这种功能。

·运营模式——广告赞助应该是很适合HTML5的运营模式,虽然移动网络已有不少广告平台,但实际上移动广告的效果并不理想,所以还应该考虑添加订阅、虚拟商品交易等服务的支付系统。HTML5可以选择PayPal和谷歌API,但这两者的用户体验仍然欠佳,不过Zong和Boku等公司已推出很便捷的计费解决方案。

结论就是,对多数开发者来说,原版应用仍是最佳选择,毕竟HTML5革命尚未成功,现仍在努力缩小与前者的差距。有一家名为Trulia的房地产信息公司,虽然并非游戏工作室,理论上并不需要运行极快的手机芯片,但该公司的手机网站流量却占据了相当的比重(目前为20%,而且还在不断增长)。这家公司的网站业务高度依赖地图功能——但HTML5并不能像原版应用那样可出色地处理高质量的地图画面。

该公司董事长Pete Flint表示,他雇用了10名开发人员制作原版应用,这些应用的黏性和综合浏览量出奇乐观,“作为一名品牌发行商,我真不喜欢创建原版应用,因为它的开发成本太高了。”此话不假,因为它意味着这些开发人员需要学习创建原版手机应用的专业开发技术,而这些事情与该公司的核心业务却根本不沾边。开发人员必须掌握不同的编码要求、模拟器和相关技术功能,以便针对各个手机平台开发多种版本的应用。为这个项目投入如此之大的成本,明显制约了公司对其他核心创造性项目的投入(粗略估算,聘请每名开发人员的成本是10万美元,合计就是100万美元)。Flint对此很无奈,声称很期待HTML5网页应用时代的到来——但HTML5的脚步太慢了。

不过Sencha公司董事长Michael Mullany却认为,HTML5在未来两年内将更具竞争力,并称已有95%的原版应用功能已可通过HTML5技术实现。他以PC网页为例来说明这种可能性完全存在,开发者至少历时15年才为Windows台式电脑创建出了“更为理想的应用程序”,而在网页浏览器方面却反而更有作为。他问道,“最后一款杀手级的Windows原版应用程序创建于哪一年?”然后又自答应该是1998年问世的Microsoft Outlook,“原版应用在台式电脑上的运行更有优势,但网络所具有的其他优点,却足以令它相形失色。”

对于快速运行的游戏来说,HTML5的图像质量尚不及原版应用,而且还存在相当大的改进空间。但在其他方面,HTML5的表现却并不令人失望,越来越多开发者开始认为,许多原版应用只是体现了略微快速的运行性能,比起开放性的网络所带来的许多益处,这种优势微乎其微。

在过去几个月中,科技行业的多个领域已迅速刮起了一阵HTML5旋风:包括Chrome、火狐和IE在内的多个主流浏览器纷纷宣布支持HTML5技术;Facebook也力挺HTML5,据称还会在即将召开的f8大会上宣布关于HTML5的更多项目消息。不少开发商也开始认识到HTML5的优势,微软与诺基亚的联姻(这二者的结盟为他们提供了iOS、Android、WebOS和RIM之外的另一个富有竞争力的选择)更让他们深刻意识到:为何还要大费周章地为多个平台开发不同版本的应用呢?最重要的是,许多开发商已有数十年的PC网页应用开发经验,他们可不想重新开始创建原版应用,所以有些公司已倒向了HMTL5阵营。另外,不少发行商早已对苹果应用商店30%的营收抽成怨声载道,HTML5让他们看到了摆脱被苹果掌握命运的希望。

尽管关于原版应用与HTML5之间的争论仍未停息,没有人知道谁才是最终赢家,苹果究竟有何策略可抵御HTML5的挑战也仍然是个未解的答案,但我们相信这场论战结束的那一天迟早会到来。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,转载请注明来源:游戏邦)

How HTML5 will kill the native app

Over the past two decades, the mobile industry has become increasingly stunted by fragmented protocols, standards, and regional differences. But a hot new technology called  HTML5 promises to remedy this by delivering an unprecedented open, democratic and wonderfully fertile mobile web.

Evangelists say the HTML5 movement has so much momentum that it could defeat the native app — an application that is designed to run on a single platform — in as little as two years.

Sundar Pichai, who leads Google’s HTML5-happy Chrome OS initiative,  agrees that the “incredible advantages of the Web will prevail” over the dominant native app model. Another mobile developer expert Mike Rowehl adds: “We’ll forget that we even passed through another era of native apps on the way to the mobile web.”

The transition comes at a time when the mobile revolution is driving economic growth in the US and abroad. Phones are quickly become our second brain, and users are snapping the smartest phones they can find. Companies, large and small, are investing billions of dollars to create a smartphone presence.

HTML5 heralds huge efficiencies for web publishers, because it lets companies develop once and distribute across any device via an Internet browser. An HTML5 triumph will not only save billions in development costs, but it will also allow publishers to direct those savings towards more innovative, productive projects.

HTML5 apps are searchable by crawlers such as Google’s search engine, ensuring that the apps can be discovered by billions of consumers. They can mash content with data or apps from third parties, and access analytical services such as traffic measurement tools, and ad server targeting technologies. You don’t need to get anyone’s permission to distribute an HTLM5 app. And to top it off, at least one study says consumers prefer the convenience of them (though the research was commissioned by Adobe, which is partial to web apps).

HTML5 is so-called because it is the fifth generation of HyperText Markup Language, which is the coding language used to create web pages. By distributing over a web browser via fast, new mobile networks, HTML5 gets to bypass much of a phone’s underlying “iron,” or the chips, graphical cards and other components — all things that native apps rely on. Most phones being sold today have modern browsers that will operate on super fast 4g or LTE networks — the sort of thing that the HTML5 technology needs to thrive. Thus, as HTML5 advances (developers are working hard to improve it), companies will no longer need to build native apps.

So there’s tremendous logic behind HTML5’s onslaught. Opponents, of course, say it’s not an assured victory. HTML5 has some limitations on things like speed, and access to certain phone features such as bluetooth. What happens over the next 12 months, however, will say a lot about its chances. Its destiny primarily depends on the next steps by Apple, the biggest proponent of native apps, and thus the antagonist of this story. And  precisely because no one knows how this will play out that makes this drama so riveting: Apple is like the Joker in the Dark Knight, a fiend with flair and with a knack for eternal comebacks, while Batman (Google) works to keep the mobile metropolis safe.

(This debate about the emergence of HTML5, and its promise of a future beyond fragmented native app platforms is the focus of one of the sessions at the VentureBeat Mobile Summit April 25/26, a conference for the 180 executives active in transforming the mobile industry. Folks like Google’s Pichai, will be in attendance, as will the major carriers and CEOs of the most disruptive private companies.)

The story started in 2007, with the release of the first iPhone. Led by its enigmatic leader Steve Jobs, Apple gave developers their first real taste of independence from the carrier oligarchy. The iPhone’s beauty was manifold, but first and foremost, it allowed developers to build applications and sell them for a fee — to users who could conveniently tap their iTunes account to buy things through the iPhone’s App Store. This bypassed the control of the carriers, which had long dictated what phones featured on their “decks.”

By the time the dust began to settle, Apple had stolen a two-year lead. Not only that, millions of developers have invested in learning Objective-C, Apple’s programming framework for the iPhone, and other developer tools; these developers become specialists with vested interest to stay loyal to Apple. Now, well into 2011, Apple keeps pushing efforts to make native apps more attractive than HTLM5 web ones, in an effort to keep those millions of developers — and thus users — hostage.

And so paradoxically, Apple has turned out to be controlling, closed and manipulative. It has no incentive to push to full democracy on the web front. It is enjoys huge profits from its position, not only because it gets a 30 percent cut of the revenue from downloaded apps, but because its phones, and now iPads, are selling like crazy. It is now one of the most valuable companies in the world. At every turn, it seems, Apple finds a way to hamper or limit the features that allow HTML5 to work efficiently on its devices. It remains to be seen what tricks it has up its sleeve going forward, but it’s true that many people think Apple will be be able to stay ahead. There are so many areas where Apple and other companies have hived off their own platforms from the Web that Wired last year declared that the “Web is dead.”

But if you look closely, despite the Apple/Joker’s continued pranks to keep native app alive, you’ll see how much Google/Batman keeps closing the gap on him. The following are the areas where native app gained a quick advantage over HTML5. Note that in almost all areas HTMl5 has caught up. In several areas, HTML is about to catch up. In a few areas, HTML5 has a plan to catch up, but is admittedly at least a year or two away from doing so:

* Touch/gestural interfaces — Gestural technology has been implemented by HTML5 framework vendors, such as Sencha. UI components that are controlled by  touch and swipe, such as carousels, scrolling lists, disclosure panels and related widgets are all supported on the HTML5 web. Vendors like Sencha are also helping get rid of things like back buttons, refresh buttons, passed links, bookmarks and other “anachronistic” features of the desktop web that don’t translate well onto the mobile web. Thus coding time has been cut down too.

* Visual Scale — There’s nothing here that HTML5 can’t address. The web page now has sufficient ways to ask what size screen its on, and size images and resolutions accordingly.

* Video/Audio — Now addressed by HTML5 for sustained playback. Audio synchronization for short sound effects still needs work in the browsers.

* Graphics & FX — Native apps are faster for some operations – particularly anything very graphics-intensive. Graphic-intensive games won’t render as effectively in HTML5 anytime soon. However, increasingly, vendors like Sencha are working around many of the speed issues by doing things like embedding a map component that can be primed for loading maps — addressing the slowness you’ve seen in things like Google maps or other sites.

* Camera/Video access — HTLM5 can handle photo capture from a web page on Android devices (at least on the latest versions, run by the Honeycomb OS; but it can’t handle it on iPhones yet).

* Contacts access — Here, HTLM5 addresses file access, but most apps are beginning to draw from the cloud anyway, and not from the device client.

* Accelerometer access – HTML5 can handle this.

* Bluetooth access — This is one device access feature HTML5 has not addressed yet. That said, even for native apps, bluetooth access is fairly limited

* Disconnected Operation — Web apps through HTML5 can now work in disconnected mode; you can get up to 50MB of database space if you ask user permission, in order to keep operating without an internet connection.

* App Store Services (discovery, updates, payments & trust) — Not only can HTML5 apps be sold through HTML5 or Chrome app stores, they can be sold directly through Apple’s App Store, Android Marketplace or Blackberry App World, after being placed in a simple “native” app shell such as Nimblekit or Webworks.

* Running in the background and sending notifications – There are HTLM5 specs for these capabilities, but they haven’t been implemented in the leading browsers yet. When placed in a native wrapper, HTLM5 can do this, but it still means it can’t do this without extra help.

* Business model – Ad revenue works well on HTML5, since the mobile web already has ad networks.  But ads aren’t doing as well on mobile as many expected, so other monetization methods are necessary, such as payment technologies for subscriptions or vi