Written by Andy Ferrett
Oct 29, 2013

Why build a native mobile app rather than a HTML5 web app?

This is a question we have been asked many times over the years and doesn’t seem to be going away.

Native apps to become redundant?

Given the benefits of HTML5 why not just develop in this format rather than fully native separately for iOS and Android? Even when we started developing native apps we were being told that native apps would quickly be made redundant by HTML5, yet here we are 4 years later with a growing demand for native app development.


HTML5 is a brilliant way of creating graphically rich, intuitive applications that can be restructured remotely and deployed on multiple platforms. However if you think that is the end of the debate then your would be very wrong; The advent and the widespread use of smartphones has sparked the development of fully native apps, written platform specific using the API’s provided by the system.

Native apps provide a level of user experience, performance, monetisation and security not available though an HTML, browser based web-app. Native app developers have access to as many as 7000 device capabilities and to features such as the camera, location, contact lists, calendar, near-field-communication and local memory to a far greater degree than is possible by HTML5.


A considerable benefit of native over HTML5 is speed. A native app doesn’t have the added overhead of having to download the design layer in addition to its content, it can concentrate on only downloading the data for the app. In addition much of this content can be cached and used offline or used whilst the latest data is being downloaded in the background.

As a result native apps load faster regardless of the strength of your internet connection.

"A considerable benefit of native over HTML5 is speed."


One final benefit that is often overlooked in this debate is the marketing benefit of a native app; the home screen on a person’s smartphone is a very valuable piece of real estate for a brand. If you can get your brand on a person’s phone, then they are viewing it many hundreds (even thousands) of times a week.

It is our view that a native app installed on someone’s phone has huge marketing value to a brand.

"a native app installed on someone’s phone has huge marketing value to a brand"

Numbers speak

According to a March 2013 Compuware Survey, around 85 percent of mobile professionals showed preference for mobile apps over mobile websites. This was attributed to the richer user experience that native apps generate.


Most of the apps we produce are given away in the app stores for free, but a number are paid for apps. According to numbers presented by this year’s Canalys report, the combined income of native developers stood at $2.2 billion for Q1 2013. The picture is in stark contrast to the other side with the report suggesting that the monetisation was zero for developers who were creating HTML5 applications.

So there we are, we’re stuck on native apps, we love them and see that they are here to stay. If you’d like to talk more with us about a native app for your brand/company then please get in contact with us.