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Survey Suggests Facebook Could be Right About HTML5


7594555062 0047ca781fA recent survey of over 5500 Appcelerator developers conducted by IDC found that among other things, developers aren't thrilled with HTML5, a data point I found surprising until you really examine the data.

You may recall that earlier this month I wrote about Facebook's decision to abandon HTML5 and move to a native app environment -- which by the way has been our most popular post this year to date. At the time, Facebook appeared to be an anomaly among developers, but could Facebook's decision be a harbinger of a deeper dissatisfaction with HTML5 in the developer community? It might -- at least according to this survey.

The survey asked developers to rate their satisfaction with a number of HTML5 features and found that for the most part, they rated features on the "neutral to dissatisfied" spectrum. These included security, monetization, fragmentation and several other attributes. They were most unhappy with monetization with 83.4 percent answering on the neutral to dissatisfied spectrum, followed by Security with 81.8 percent.

In fact, the only elements the survey found where developers were actually happy with HTML5 was cross development capabilities, which 83.4 percent reported that they were satisfied with -- and immediate updates, which 81.8 percent were satisfied with -- both of which are clear advantages of using HTML5.

The strange part of this survey though is that IDC chose to lump neutral responses with dissatisfied ones. Unless we see a breakdown of how those two responses split, it really is difficult to to draw any firm conclusions from these results. Neutral, after all, is very different from dissatisfied. In one you have no real feelings one way or the other and with the other you are unhappy in some fundamental way.

So if developers weren't putting their energy in HTML5, where were they putting it? 85 percent reported developing for the iPhone with 76 percent developing for the Android phone. And for all the talk of being unhappy with HTML5, 66 percent of respondents were still developing for the HTML5 mobile web. If you're wondering where Windows came in on this, 21 percent reported developing apps for Windows phones -- which doesn't bode well for Windows moving forward. Even worse was Blackberry phones with just 9 percent of developers creating apps for the Blackberry.

So given the data in this report, how do you account for the broad difference in perception around HTML5 and the reality this survey purports to paint? It could have something to do with lumping neutral and dissatisfied into one category, and it could have to do with the sponsor of the survey, which makes cross-platform mobile development tools. When it comes to vendor-sponsored surveys, I always give the caveat that the sponsor is looking to show a result that puts their products and services in the best possible light or illustrates a need that the sponsor's company can fill.

It could also have to do with Appcelerator customers, who were surveyed for this report,  and how as a demographic, they choose to distribute their development resources. In spite of the fact that this survey included such a large number developers, it's still hard to draw firm conclusions about it from such a homogenized group.

When it comes to HMTL5, Facebook may be an abberation or it might have recognized something more fundamental about HTML5, but we'll need more data to find out.

Photo by yukop on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

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