In the latest installment of the ongoing debate about the future of apps vs. HTML5, a Pew survey finds that the World Wide Web will be more dominant in 2020 relative to apps.
According to a Pew survey of technology experts, 35 percent of respondents saw apps as the dominant way to deliver content, but 59 percent picked the Web. The rest didn't respond.
The exact wording went like this for the app supporters:
In 2020, most people will prefer to use specific applications (apps) accessible by Internet connection to accomplish most online work, play, communication, and content creation. The ease of use and perceived security and quality-assurance characteristics of apps will be seen as superior when compared with the open Web. Most industry innovation and activity will be devoted to apps development and updates, and use of apps will occupy the majority of technology users' time. There will be a widespread belief that the World Wide Web is less important and useful than in the past and apps are the dominant factor in people's lives.
The pro Web question was phrased like this:
In 2020, the World Wide Web is stronger than ever in users' lives. The open Web continues to thrive and grow as a vibrant place where most people do most of their work, play, communication, and content creation. Apps accessed through iPads, Kindles, Nooks, smartphones, Droid devices, and their progeny—the online tools GigaOM referred to as "the antiInternet"—will be useful as specialized options for a finite number of information and entertainment functions. There will be a widespread belief that, compared to apps, the Web is more important and useful and is the dominant factor in people's lives.
The Web argument really comes down to HTML5. The approach of apps and the Web are going to converge. It's possible that they may converge to the point where you can't tell the difference between the Web and an app.
If you're a Web developer who assumes that multiple mobile platforms will continue the Web will obviously look like a better choice. Few publishers will want to support multiple platforms. Indeed, even if you only pick Android and iOS there can be a support burden. Toss Windows Phone and the BlackBerry platform and it's clear that many developers will be rooting for the Web.