Three Ways HTML 5 Is Transforming IT

Last Updated Jun 25, 2009 2:46 PM EDT

By allowing the Web to become a universal operating system, and making mobile devices more powerful than low-end laptops, HTML 5 is transforming IT more profoundly than any development since the advent of the Internet. As HTML 5 becomes the widely-adopted standard for authoring on the Web, it will radically transform three critical markets in the IT landscape: device makers, application vendors, and wireless operators.

1. Vendors supporting HTML 5 like Nokia, HTC, Samsung, Palm, Apple and Research in Motion will see demand for their devices explode at the expense of desktops and laptops from the likes of Dell, Lenovo and HP. Why? Because customers have demonstrated time and again that, all things being equal, they'll take small and light every time, and HTML 5 is the great equalizer. By improving the quality of cloud-based applications and the efficiency of device storage, HTML 5 turns smartphones into pocket-sized supercomputers. This as much as anything explains HP, Intel, and Qualcomm's sudden interest in netbooks (not to mention Apple's thinly-disguised plans to enter the fray). For the first time in dog years, too, device makers will also have an active interest in applications; but the fragmented App Store model will soon give way to a more federated model such as Qualcomm's Plaza. As I've written earlier, IBM's $100 million committment to mobile applications comes in no small measure from a desire to take part in the disruption of the Microsoft-Dell duopoly.

2. HTML 5 is a boon to mobile device application vendors because it makes better use of local storage and speeds the processing of advanced Javascript code, creating huge improvements in the customer experience. This opens the door to a multitude of small mobile apps vendors at the expense of entrenched software vendors, but can also be an especially lucrative opening for wireless operators -- assuming they drop their almost usurious transaction fees (typically around 30 percent) -- by spurring the sale of apps, music and virtual currencies, as well as hard goods and real-world services, across their networks. These improved mobile apps will put incredible pressure on the likes of Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, and even Salesforce.com. I discussed the potential for this change in a post on Apple and Google's role in sparking the mobile applications space.

3. Finally, HTML 5 can be used to create temporary or ad-hoc peer-to-peer networks running within browsers of individual devices. This is the ultimate in disintermediation, potentially marginalizing not just large application suites but even cloud-based computing by allowing customers to collaborate in the ether. They would be able to save conversations or documents to their devices if they chose, but could also disintegrate them by simply closing their browsers, ensuring those documents didn't survive to implicate a whistleblower, or to be discovered through litigation. This would have tremendous implications for vendors of collaboration suites like Microsoft, IBM and Google, and would be a potential new source of revenue for wireless operators offering advanced services, and niche networking equipment vendors like Airvana.

The shake-out that ensues could undermine Google's business model, which relies on heavy usage of cloud servers to feed the information-hungry algorithms that power its search revenue stream, obviate Microsoft's hold on the desktop by rendering desktops obsolete, and destroy the value proposition of legacy, proprietary application suites that don't function well in a standards-based, flexible, and ultimately ubiquitous IT environment.
  • Michael Hickins

    Michael Hickins has written about technology and business for BNET, InformationWeek, InternetNews.com, eWEEK -- where he was executive editor from 2007-2008 -- The Curator, Pseudo.com, Multex Investor, Reuters, and Conde Nast's WWD.com. Hickins is the author of The Actual Adventures of Michael Missing, a collection of short stories published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1991. He also published Blomqvist, a picaresque novel set in 11th century Europe, in 2006. Hickins remains passionately interested in the intersections of business, technology, politics and culture, and endures a life-long obsession with baseball. He is married with two children and lives in Manhattan.

Comments