The Splinternet Grows. HTML5 to Slow it Down

The only thing we need now is an open HTML5 store which handles the billing for developers who want the widest audience possible as their creative work is monetized.

In January of 2008 I used a term Splinternet to describe the growing number of areas content providers need to focus on when delivering their services. It seems according to Forrester Research I coined the term as it refers to a splintering of the traditional Internet. At the time I used Facebook as an example of this splintering but over the years, app stores too have also become a major splintered area as media companies and others as they look to optimize their presence in each disparate splinterverse.

More recently, Wired declared the Web dead which reinforces for me that as a society we are going in the wrong direction – one of exponentially more splintered communities. Of course Apple and Facebook have every reason in the world to continue to promote apps which are dependent on their platforms and/or approval process but is this good for users or bad?

Let’s explore the good first. I feel more comfortable using a banking app on my iPhone or iPad than I do my PC browser because of keystroke logging and other malicious software which may be on a computer without my knowledge.

On the other hand I resent any company which tells me which programs I can and cannot have access to and Apple not only does its best to guard against malicious apps in its online store it also dictates what applications I can or cannot download and use. Obviously if an app does something illegal it is understandable but the company goes much farther and enforces its moral values via its approval process which is a moving target and at times seems arbitrary and capricious.

Moreover it seems to occasionally deny access to applications which may compete with one of its current or future products or even planned products.

How horrifying (read: terrible for consumers who cherish a free and open Internet) would it be if every company who controls a Splinternet decides to enforce rules in a similar manner to Apple?

Google for its part has argued that the future of the mobile app world is the Web and although it has an app store because it seems like the popular thing to do, it has also made bold steps by improving upon its iPhone YouTube app with a mobile Web site ( which has better performance than the app which comes bundled on your favorite iOS device.

Carl Ford has some strong comments in support of the Web’s future and points out how important HTML5 is and will be. Moreover he mentions how many mobile apps today are basically just Web sites with minor front-end modifications.

While is Carl is correct for many news apps, the Wall Street Journal application on the iPad has richness which would could be difficult to approximate via the traditional mobile Web alone. Still, I am beginning to see more and more HTML5 apps which seem to have the functionality of some of the best standalone App Store apps.


For example if you have an HTML5-enabled browser like Chrome, check out this page flipping demo. Also, remember how positive I was on the new HTML5 Yahoo Mail? In addition, Google’s HTML5 Gmail apps are great and many of my readers profess their love for the service.

Webmonkey had a great article a while back which pointed to a Google-sponsored Chrome experiments site which show the power of JavaScript and HTML5. There are some amazing demos here and sadly, many of them don’t work well with an iPad because a mouse and or real keyboard is needed. Hopefully such issues will be resolved over time and while you wait, be sure to check the Asteroids game (pictured below) on the site. Although updated with newer graphics, the game is still highly-addictive and takes me back to my youth when I spent much of my salary on Asteroids and Space Invaders arcade games.


My sense is as concerned as I am about the Splinternet becoming the Internet – and you can argue the transformation has already taken place, there is tremendous hope that HTML5 will force developers to first write apps for the web and worry about the app stores later.

The only thing we need now is an open HTML5 store which handles the billing for developers who want the widest audience possible as their creative work is monetized.

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