I have been advocating mobile apps over native apps in this space. In my opinion, mobile apps based on open standards help us overcome the restrictions thrown on our way with proprietary vendors wanting to influence control over their customers. Even though these restrictions are anti-competitive and, in some cases, goes against the very essence of free market system, I don’t see them as innovation killers. In my opinion, every such roadblocks creates an opportunity for others to jump in and do things the right way (based on open standards).
When Apple decided to not allow Dashboard Widgets on the iPhone/iPad App store, PXL Creations decided to release their Widget app called Dashpad as a web app. iPad users can now use Safari browser to use these widgets with almost similar experience as Mac. They still use a pricing model similar to that of App Store ($9.99 to access this web app with minor updates available free of charge) without going through the App store approval process and Apple’s whims and fancies. This is clearly an example of innovating around big brother like restrictions.
HTML 5 is turning out to be a boon in a world dominated by players like Apple who want to exert control over their mobile devices. It is my strong belief that we will eventually have an user experience similar to that of native apps. HTML 5 is already proving to be successful in the traditional web space where companies like Scribd and Youtube are using them to offer great user experiences. It is just a matter of time before HTML 5 invades the mobile web front. To be more specific, it is already starting to happen.
Yesterday, Youtube announced their new mobile app based on HTML 5 at m.youtube.com. I am already using it on my iPhone 4 (see the screenshot above) and the experience is much better than the native Youtube app for iPhone.
We launched YouTube on mobile devices in 2007 with about 1,000 videos available on the mobile site (m.youtube.com). While this suddenly opened up the possibility to access videos on the go, our site, mobile browsers and the hardware had limitations that prevented the mobile experience from keeping up with YouTube on the desktop. Today, more than ever, we know that you want to be able to find and access your favorite videos wherever you are. That’s why we’re rolling out an updated version of the mobile site. Here’s what’s new about it:
- It’s really fast.
- The user interface incorporates larger, more touch-friendly elements, making it easier to access videos on the go.
- It incorporates the features and functionality you’ve come to expect from the .com site, like search query suggestions, the options to create playlists, the ability to designate “favorite,” “like” or “unlike” videos directly from your device.
- As we make improvements to Youtube.com, you’ll see them quickly follow on our mobile site, unlike native apps which are not updated as frequently.
This is the kind of innovation we should expect from the tech world to go around the restrictions put forward by other tech companies and telcos. It is time for innovators to consider using open standards as their key tool. The innovation happening around HTML 5 tells us that we can extend it to other areas of technology. In order to have a truly free markets based marketplace, an open philosophy (like open source, open standards, open formats, etc.) is an essential tool for innovators. No, I am not arguing that proprietary approach is anti-thesis to free market economy. I believe that users should have the freedom to choose either proprietary or open tools. I am just saying that we can beat any restrictions put forward through proprietary approach by using an open approach and, hence, open philosophy is a key innovator toolkit. Do you agree with me?