Early last month I wrote a piece about BlackBerry 10 and HTML5, suggesting that in the long term, RIM is making the right bet by pushing its WebWorks platform so hard. Between Webworks and native cascade-powered apps, mixed in with some Android love, RIM has their bases covered.
Not so long ago, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, ruffled the feathers of the HTML5 camp by saying that this new web technology wasn't really ready for prime time. It's well known that Facebook re-wrote its apps using native code because they weren't happy with HTML5 performance.
Like many others, I took this at face value. I assumed Zuck was right. I take a long term view on things and I figured that HTML5 would eventually be a huge movement that dominates much of cross-platform mobile app development. But if that day wasn't quite here yet, so be it. Bugs will get worked out, things will improve, and HTML5 will have its day to shine.
Well, the folks at Sencha have done a damn good job of proving that this future day is actually here. It's now. For those who don't follow the scene so closely, Sencha is a company that builds an HTML5 mobile app framework. created an incredible set of HTML5 tools.
They took offense to the Zuckerberg statement. And they set out to prove him wrong. Check out the video above. They actually build a demo app using pure HTML5 to show some of the most complex features of Facebook on iOS and Android. They've built something that is not only faster, but consumes less bandwidth than the native iOS app from Facebook.
You can read their entire blog post about the development of "Fastbook" on the Sencha blog here. It's a long post and quite fascinating. There is some pretty good evidence that Facebook's HTML5 developers were just not doing a best-in-class job of coding up their app.
So what does all this mean to RIM? If Facebook can be coded up using just HTML5, I don't think there is any reason to think that a slew of other apps can't be done using these same tools. HTML5 can handle photo filters, so Instragram-like apps should be possible. It can handle video, so Netflix should be doable.
The convincing argument made by Sencha really makes me believe in the idea that the world is moving away from platform-specific development tools. Sure, we might need platform specific tweaks, but HTML5 is mostly a cross-platform environment. This lowers the barriers to getting great apps on BlackBerry, and should level the playing field (as far as apps go) as the mobile computing market evolves.