September 14, 2012

Founder Mark Zuckerberg made waves recently in calling Facebook's HTML5-driven app "one of the biggest mistakes if not the biggest strategic mistake that we made."

"The biggest mistake we've made as a company is betting on HTML5 over native," he said at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, according to I&T sister publication Byte.

The Byte article goes on to note that Zuckerberg didn't completely abandon the platform, saying he's "long term, really excited" about it. But the damage was done, with executives at competing events even feeling the need to weigh in on whether or not Zuckerberg was right.

In the insurance industry, the occasional opinions I've heard of HTML5 have been good. John Elcock of Kemper Direct said a few months ago that the technology is "appealing for its cross-platform support for things like drawing, audio or video without using Silverlight or Flash, and drag-and-drop, in a browser." Vendors such as Kony include it with their packaged mobile development services. An infrastructure has already built around it and it's unlikely that one comment from one tech exec could kill it.

Still, user experience is everything — and as Byte's reporter Serdar Yegulalp noted, the HTML5 experience Facebook was going for was "about as snappy as an uphill winter molasses race." Will this dissuade insurers from using it for their mobile apps, or will the technology further mature as handsets, mobile browsers and cellular networks do?

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, ...