Apple’s handset has been seemingly unstoppable as of late. The company sold more than 37 million iPhones last quarter, making it the top smartphone manufacturer in the world over the three month period.

But what is it about the iPhone that makes it so popular? What sets it apart from the competition? Is it the sleek hardware? Is it the polished operating system? Sure. These are both big factors. But a lot of folks will tell you that it’s all about the apps…
With a little inspiration from the jailbreak community, Apple reinvented the mobile applications market back in 2008. Built on a set of strict UI-focused guidelines, and a never-before-seen software distribution model, the App Store appealed to both users and developers.

This has proved to be quite the winning combination, because even in the face of stiff competition, the quality and selection of iOS applications still stands heads and shoulders above the crowd. The App Store is now home to more than 500,000 software titles and is about to cross the 25 billion download mark. Users love it.

And some will argue that it’s because users love these apps that Apple continues to sell its iPhones at such a staggering rate. Or any of its iOS devices for that matter. In most cases, using an application on an Apple device is a far better experience than using its counterpart on Android or other mobile OS. But that may not be true for long.

HTML5, or web-based applications are quickly becoming a popular topic among developers. HTML5 apps are easier to write (this is subjective, of course) than platform-specific ones (which require knowledge of unique programming languages). And they are also compatible across all mobile platforms, meaning developers wouldn’t have to spend time producing separate apps for iOS and Android.

But it’s not just indie developers that are getting excited about HTML5. There’s a list of companies that are investing heavily in the technology. Facebook, in fact, just announced last Fall that it would be launching its own cross-platform HTML5 app store. And Mozilla, the FireFox creators, are looking to follow suit this year.

Of course, there’s still a lot to be said about native app markets like the App Store — less fragmentation, more security, easier app discovery. But you can’t deny that HTML5 is an interesting alternative for developers. And if it ever gets to the point where Apple’s application advantage is taken out of the equation, consumers will have one less reason to choose the iPhone over competing handsets.

Should Apple be worried about cross-platform HTML5 apps? No. Not yet anyways. But should it be wary? Absolutely.

What do you think? If you knew you could get the exact same apps (UI and all) on other platforms, would you stay with the iPhone/iPad?

  • Anonymous

    It’s something to consider. Perhaps we’re approaching the age where hardware will no longer matter? I imagine the new battleground would then become content. Apple, Google and Blackberry battling over app “exclusives” that you can only get on their respective platforms.

    Interesting.

  • Anonymous

    It’s something to consider. Perhaps we’re approaching the age where hardware will no longer matter? I imagine the new battleground would then become content. Apple, Google and Blackberry battling over app “exclusives” that you can only get on their respective platforms.

    Interesting.

    • Anonymous

      Exactly what I was thinking — similar to exclusive game titles in the console world. Interesting indeed.

      • The web didn’t evolve to this on the computer, so why would it on a tablet? Gaming is entirely different. People throw $2k just into graphics cards for gaming. It’s can expensive, high end, niche market.
        People won’t stand for not being able to play WordsWithFriends with their mom because their mom is locked into a 2 year contract on some other platform.
        Gimme a break.

  • Anonymous

    Sure if dev don’t want to make as much money as they could, because being “advertise” in the App store is the biggest reason why people buy apps including me, I have bought a huge amount of apps due to reviews and being on the top 100.

    But how would the majority of people find out about web based apps or even pay for something that could be a scam etc etc.

    I think that apple may look into the html 5 but if it affects the sales it would be a very minimal hit, plus they’re selling more phones each day and most people will always buy apps from apple instead.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I love my idevices and wouldn’t consider switching.

  • yes and no. One of the big advantages of an application it is easily available, not to mention the developer can use the appstore as almost a free means of advertising (less 30% cut from sales)
    If they were to develop a HTML 5 version, sure they wouldn’t have to pay Apple’s cut, but app discovery would also be a lot harder, unless you have the visitors that say Facebook has and be able to inform every visitor.

    Apps like Angry Birds, would never have been as big as they are now if they were launched as a Web App, there are applications everyday that launch into the Top 10 simply because they have a cool looking icon and they seem like a fun game to play, HTML 5 simply wouldn’t have that advantage.

    You then have to look at updates, people like to be informed individually of changes, and sure HTML 5 is cross platform, but that also makes it harder to fix issues that develop on certain devices.

    I honestly don’t think it will get to that stage, devices are getting so much more hardware packed and robust, that a HTML 5 application simply won’t cut it.

    • Anonymous

      Completely agree. Not to mention how much more easily accesible the code to the apps would be. I’m just thinking these apps could be copied left and right and left devs with no money.
      As of now, I haven’t heard of that happening and it’s probably because cheating devs would know that Apple, with its centralized review and control, wouldn’t let the app through or at most take it down a couple days after when the original app makers complain.
      Therefore, an HTML5-based market would still need some kind of governance for transparence other than people’s honesty because, well, that’s not very common these days.

  • The iPhone is a better device than other devices smoother interface than most android devices but I’m sure in the future they will come out with a phone or device that can do just as well if not better as the iPhone as of right now I would stay with my iPhone it’s all around a better device

    • Personally, if it weren’t for the apps, I would go with Windows Phone 7. It has an exceptionally smooth and focused UI, just no app support.

      • Drew Presson

        Let’s ask u what do u see in windows phone???ur statement on apps is exactly correct but I would go with my galaxy nexus over any phone!

  • Like many others says, it would be a lot harder to find the good “apps” also, i would anytime prefer not going to my browser everytime i had to launch an app 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Actually that’s the only part I wouldn’t mind. I’m guessing that if the market went that way, browser would develop a system of menus to access apps, like app-bookmarks. And I say I don’t mind because I’ve found a lot of apps whose counterpart or mother websites are far faster to load. For example, any URL-shortening app is way slower than just opening Safari and pasting a URL on bitly.
      However, most of the apps require better code languages than that simple app does. As of right now, HTML5 just doesn’t have that. Not to mention the security devs have that Apple will not approve or at least quickly remove apps that copy their original idea. Even if the market shifts that way, a good body of governance will still need to be in place.

  • I don’t think that HTML5 app stores are going to do anything to iPhone sales for a couple of reasons.

    1. most users have little background knowledge of technology, how it works, or have the knowledge to quickly adapt to newer technologies. I’m not saying people are stupid, but most people that buy an iPhone (that i know) ask me how to download apps. If they can’t even figure out how to press the big blue button on their screen, I doubt they will be able to figure out how to install and then shop on an alternative app store (given that apple allows HTML5 app stores on their devices)

    2. Apple has firmly established brand recognition – First, Apple domininated the MP3 player market with the iPod. When they entered the phone market they used the iPod to create a bridge for those that used MP3 tech (because its all by Apple now). The iPhone was also completely unopposed for years and quickly built a huge fan-base. Apple has entrenched itself so deeply into the hearts and minds of its customers that they have created both brand recognition and…

    3. Brand loyalty. Those people that have been exposed to Apple products know how they are top notch. Lets face it, Apple is the Lambo/Porsche/Ferrari of the tech industry. They just are. If you want the best, you buy an Apple – but it’ll cost you.

    4. People are not going to jump ship for another app store – especially when most people are now comfortable using an iPhone. And because of this, devs are going to keep on making apps for the Apple app store. There is no point in supporting a technology that no one uses.

    basically to answer the question of the article. no.

    tim

  • Honestly I think that this article is pointless because we all agree that an html5-based store would not work unless the developers offer their web apps for free because if the developer is going to charge the same price for a web app as another developer with an AppStore app that does the same thing, people will always go for the app that they have easy access to. And most apps are only 99¢ so it’s kinda hard to compete with that! Not to mention security and piracy issues

  • Anonymous

    Fortunately it’s not just the apps that make the iPhone better.

  • Andy Adley

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  • Well. if the apps where avaible for everyone despite which platform. And if the selection is just as big as the appstore. Heck i would buy a windows phone and give it a try if that happened. Its all abiut the apps for me really. Wouldnt try a windows phone today for that single reason. its not that i dig microsoft. its just that i have never tried one of them. nobody that i know got one xD

    • Anonymous

      Lol, windows phone!

  • Luke Frazier

    Sorry, delete me.

  • Worry about HTML5 getting too popular is like worrying about Java or python or any other cross-platform language getting too popular. But we still see everything being developed in platform specific languages.

  • Obviously….! For me Apps dosn’t matter But Apple’s Hardware..!

  • Guest

    I need to see cydia install, can’t

    see it on my device after jailbroken,have no computer . Help…