There is an argument for HTML5 that runs: because it can run across multiple devices, HTML5 can help you slash the costs of developing new apps. Now, rather than dealing with the time and cost of developing native apps, you can simply write once and deploy everywhere (near as damn it).

Now, I’d dearly love to simply agree with this. But, as with so many things in tech, the reality is not quite so clear cut.

Over on his blog, my boss has been talking about the reasons why people build applications. This leads me to think, the motivation for building an app and the skill set of its current developers will ultimately determine if HTML5 is a less expensive option.

But, of course, the cost argument is a powerful one. So let’s look at four ways in which HTML5 may save you money:

  1. HTML and JavaScript developers are available in abundance. While the best people are always in demand, it should be easier to find talent from such a large pool. And because there are more of them, there’s less of a specialist premium on their hourly rates (if you don't know what a specialist premium is, go ask a COBOL developer).
  2. Solutions to common issues are often widely shared among developers. This means you can solve problems faster (and therefore more cheaply). The JavaScript and HTML5 world is massive, so you’re often just a Bing search away from a solution to a problem – other search engines are available ;). Plus with great sites like Stack Overflow, JavaScript is one of the most documented languages in the world.
  3. HTML5 and JavaScript development requires no specific hardware, you can develop on pretty much any OS you want. Compare this to the challenge of being, say, a Microsoft or Linux shop and wanting to dev for IOS. In this case, you’re going to have to invest in some Mac hardware since you can't virtualise Mac OS legally.
  4. Finally, as I suggested above, if your codebase is HTML and JavaScript, there’s a good chance you’ll have great code reuse across platforms. Of course, let’s not kid ourselves, you will have to make modifications to go across all platforms but at least you won’t have to start from scratch.

So is HTML5 the cheap option? In the final analysis, the answer is: Yes. No. Maybe. It depends. Not the most satisfying I know but probably the closest to the truth.

I'd love to know what you think.

Are you being pushed to HTML5 for cost reasons?

Are you happily going that way anyway?

Do you think cost is irrelevant?

Let me know.