Schmidt: HTML5 to drive app development

Future applications will increasingly be based on HTML5 whether for mobile devices or PC space, says Google CEO at Mobile World Congress, who also addresses Android fragmentation issue.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

BARCELONA--The latest revision of the HTML programming language will likely become a standard for building applications running on both the mobile and desktop platforms, benefiting the developer community, says Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

In his keynote address here Tuesday at the Mobile World Congress, Schmidt said: "It looks to me like HTML5 will eventually become a way almost all applications are built, including those on new phones. There are some features missing but it's getting there."

HTML5 took 20 years to be established due to the need for the underlying Web standard to aggregate its capability and evolve onto the proprietary Apple Mac and Microsoft Windows API (application programming interface), he explained.

Lacking social media coherence

There was "nothing new" in Eric Schmidt's address at the Mobile World Congress, and the Google CEO did not say how the company plans to monetize its social media offerings, according to Eden Zoller, principal analyst at Ovum.
Schmidt's keynote, he observed, was "big on vision and quotes, but low on any exciting announcements", save for a demo of a new video editing service for tablets which did not work.
"There was a nod to cloud services, but nothing new," said Zoller. "There was also no mention of how Google will or could bring coherence to its currently fragmented social media strategy, a weak spot in Google's armory, especially given the importance of social media as an advertising platform."
"Given Google's push on mobile location based services, it seems a lost opportunity not to leverage this in ways that exploit social commerce, an advertising revenue that Schmidt acknowledged was important," he added.

With all operating vendors, including those with proprietary API, adding in HTML5 standards on their systems, he said there is now "every reason to believe that eventually--meaning some years from now", many applications will ride on HTML5 in a mobile and non-mobile form.

Resolving Android fragmentation
Schmidt, who will be stepping down as Google CEO in April, went on to discuss the company's efforts in addressing the fragmentation of its Android mobile platform as well as the progress of the Chrome OS.

He acknowledged that fragmentation is an issue for Android programmers who want their apps to run smoothly on multiple devices. He said Google attempts to establish minimum functionality guidelines based on the Open Handset Alliance specifications, to allow for common applications in new Android-powered devices.

He added that the company's anti-fragmentation clause instructs phonemakers to track the platform's API and include mandatory Android interfaces.

Schmidt believes the Android Market will also provide the "carrot" to entice developers to upgrade their apps to support changes to the platform and not deviate too far to avoid having their apps dropped from the appstore.

He added that operators will not want to operate in an environment that is fragmented, and this would further motivate device makers to update new Android releases on their phones--specifically, Android 2.3, also called Gingerbread. He said the new release will help smooth over differences.

"We've released Gingerbread, which in a month or two everybody will upgrade to," Schmidt said. "At that point, everybody will be on a common platform which should address a lot of your concerns."

Elaborating on Chrome, he noted that the OS is currently targeted at netbooks and devices with keyboards. He added that there are no plans yet to merge Android and Chrome, but the company is "working overtime" to achieve this.

"I learnt a long time ago: Don't force technology to merge when it's not ready," he said.

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