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Will HTML5 help battle mobile fragmentation in 2012?

Industry experts agree that HTML5 will play a prominent role in mobile development in 2012 and will be used to try to overcome fragmentation issues that the industry has consistently battled.

With the expected increase in HTML5 development, brands and retailers need to reevaluate their mobile strategy to fit a cross-platform solution. HTML5 also has broader implications for handset manufacturers, which need to be considered when creating mobile applications and Web sites.

?Right now there is a lot of hype with HMTL5, but there is a question about the value that it adds,? said Patrick Emmons, director of professional services at Adage Technologies, Chicago.

?Adobe?s decision to give up on Flash was abrupt but also signals how HTML5 will have to play a role in the future because it was one of the most successful Web add-ins,? he said.

Cross-platform handsets
Microsoft has said that the next generation of its phone, the Windows 8, will include HTML5, making it clear to marketers that the technology will play a huge role in Web development in 2012. 

Apple will face a challenge with the increased use of HTML5 especially for in-app ads because of its tight regulations on its app approval policy, per Mr. Emmons.

However, the change might be a good thing for Apple because it will open the doors to more creative uses of mobile by brands and companies in both apps and mobile advertising.

Google?s Android operating system could also benefit from an uptick in HTML5 development by helping to standardize memory leaks and constantly evaluating the Android Market for apps with viruses.

The handset with the lowest implications from HTML5 is RIM?s BlackBerry, which already supports HTML5 Web browsing.

?If HTML5 is successful, it will push the boundaries with what Web-based apps can do and will reduce the bar of entry for companies just getting involved in mobile,? Mr. Emmons said.

Uptick ownership
Neil Shah, a wireless device strategies analyst at Strategy Analytics, Newton, MA, echoes Mr. Emmons belief that HTML5 is expected to skyrocket in HTML5 mobile phones, particularly with sales in cross-platform phones.

According to the company?s recent ?Global HTML5 Handset Sales Forecast? study, HTML5 handset sales are expected to increase 365 percent between 2011 and 2016.

?HTML5 traction will grow over the next two years and surge beyond,? Mr. Shah said.

?As the HTML5 standard?s development grows with more APIs being added in the near-to long-term, we will witness the overall functionality and user experience for HTML5-based apps reaching closer to existing non HTML5-based apps and services,? he said.

In particular, Mr. Shah predicts that social networking, gaming and mobile video app categories will lead the pack for HTML-based solutions going into 2012.

Categories such as games open up doors for developers that have stereotypically struggled to make rich, complex media available on multiple platforms.

Adobe will also try to position itself at the center of HTML5 development to prove how serious it is about the technology.

?Any brand or company looking to garner maximum eyeballs for its offerings will need to have a HTML5 strategy in place and cannot afford to ignore,? Mr. Shah said.

?HTML5-based Web apps built on standardized app design and development standards will result in easier portability and deployment across multiple platforms, which is the maximum penetration with lower deployment and development costs,? he said.

Testing is key to success
In order to fully integrate HTML5, brands and companies need to be willing to push the envelope more in 2012, which means extensively testing Web-based solutions.

?As we saw with the 2011 shopping season, delivering performance remains a key challenge,? said Dave Karow, senior product manager at Keynote Systems, San Mateo, CA.

?Vigilant use of testing and monitoring solutions that support HTML5 technologies, including swiping, geo-awareness and local storage, have become more critical than ever,? he said.

According to Mr. Karow, mobile HTML5 adoption in 2012 will largely be based on the growing Web HTML5 trend.

Additionally, brands need to leverage HTML5 in 2012 to center their campaigns around a three-screen experience with Web, tablet and smartphone.

As mobile usage has increased, users are also expecting a more rich experience from their interaction and leads to HTML5 as a natural touch point, per Mr. Karow.

Advertise cross-platform
If HTML5 continues to become more widespread, brands and companies will be open to a new scope of opportunities.

?It's been a game of early adopters in the last year, and I think through the end of 2011, forward-thinking advertisers will fully appreciate both the potential and the challenges that are in the ecosystem,? said Alan Peters, director of product at Sprout, San Francisco.

?Brands and companies need to know what's possible and where with HTML5, so you can realize the full potential of your creative,? he said.

The adoption of HTML5 is about more than development though ? it requires brands and companies to strategically think differently about their mobile efforts as a package.

In order to fully tap into HTML5, it is important for marketers to look at exactly at what they are currently doing on each platform and think about a way to group their initiatives.

?HTML5 will become central to an even more powerful and integrated ecosystem,? Mr. Peters said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York