Sun - 21.01.2018

Online newspapers take apps into their own hands with HTML5

Online newspapers take apps into their own hands with HTML5

Online newspapers tired of catering to Apple’s in-app purchasing restrictions are starting to bypass the tech giant completely by creating web-based apps using HTML5 technology, reports. The latest title to jump on the trend? Washington’s local paper The Chronicle, which offers the HTML5 app as part of a subscription bundle that includes complete online and print access, the article said.

The Chronicle’s web app is similar to a “native” iPad app in terms of user experience; rather than downloading the app from Apple’s Newsstand, though, one can access the web app through the iPad’s Internet browser and save it as an icon on the homescreen, the article said. App users can share articles through Facebook and Twitter, as well as download stories to read them offline later, the article said.

CEO Scott Karp of Publish2, the platform that supports the Chronicle’s web app, told the HTML5 version is a “seamless extension of the subscription model.” The Chronicle plans to launch an Android-friendly version of the app in the near future, according to the article.

Chronicle Publisher Christine Fossett also said in the article, “Frequent change is inevitable in our work and personal lives. If business is going to keep pace with the desire of customers they must embrace that change.”

London’s Financial Times similarly launched an HTML5 web app this past June, removing its apps from the iPad store, the article said.

There are clear advantages to using a web app over a native app other than user experience. For one, Apple requires publishers to pay 30% of revenue earned through in-app subscriptions. This payment is avoided with a web-based app, so the Chronicle just pays an annual fee to Publish2 for use of the platform, the article said.

Perhaps more importantly, though, is the fact that Apple allows iPad users to choose not to disclose certain information to publishers when purchasing a subscription in the app store, which is valuable subscriber information lost to publishers, according to Gigaom. By using a web-based app, publishers have complete control over subscriber information, which can then be used for advertising purposes or for driving additional sales, the article said.

While the HTML5 model has numerous benefits for the business aspects of publishing, the platform itself is not without flaws. According to FierceDevelopper, HTML5 does not yet have all of the capabilities that native apps have, and it may not even be able to acquire all platform-specific characteristics.

“HTML5 has improved in the last year, adding an ever increasing set of capabilities, which get it close to mirroring native apps,” the article said. “But despite these advances HTML5 remains firmly behind the native SDKs and APIs available on each major platform. While time may give HTML5 the opportunity to catch-up it will never truly be on par … HTML5 doesn't create the 'develop once deploy everywhere' scenario that is often discussed.”

Furthermore, a communal marketplace for HTML5 app distribution does not yet exist, which puts those apps at a disadvantage of native apps sold in popular digital newsstands, the article said. As we previously reported, the top 100 best-selling news apps in Apple’s Newsstand for iPad take in about $70,000 per day.

It seems as though newspaper publishers are just beginning to explore the options available to them through the HTML5 platform. While some newspapers and magazines might view the technological capabilities of native apps as more of factor in platform choice than revenue or subscriber information, HTML5 might be just the mechanism for news organizations looking for a more direct route between user and publisher.

Sources:, Gigaom, FierceDevelopper


Gianna Walton


2012-04-19 14:41

Shaping the Future of the News Publishing

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