3 articles from Wall Street Journal related to HTML5 - resume searches more than doubled between 1st and 3rd quarters

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    Nov 13, 2011 7:46 PM GMT

    HTML5: A Look Behind the Technology Changing the Web

    A year and a half after Steve Jobs endorsed it in an unusual essay, a set of programming techniques called HTML5 is rapidly winning over the Web.

    The technology allows Internet browsers to display jazzed-up images and effects that react to users' actions, delivering game-like interactivity without installing additional software. Developers can use HTML5 to get their creations on a variety of smartphones, tablets and PCs without tailoring apps for specific hardware or the online stores that have become gatekeepers to mobile commerce.

    That promise—and the lure of Apple Inc. devices in particular—is sweeping aside alternative technologies. In the latest development, Adobe Systems Inc. said Wednesday it will pull back on pushing the rival Flash format opposed by Mr. Jobs for mobile devices.

    "HTML5 is a major step forward," declares venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, who helped invent the first successful browser, Netscape, in the 1990s.

    Another Silicon Valley investor, Roger McNamee, predicts the technology will let artists, media companies and advertisers differentiate their Web offerings in ways that weren't practical before. "HTML5 is going to put power back in the hands of creative people," he says.

    Many companies are placing bets. Amazon.com Inc. used HTML5 for a Web-based app called Kindle Cloud Reader that sidesteps Apple rules for selling content on its iPhone and iPads.

    "Angry Birds" creator Rovio Entertainment Ltd. developed an HMTL5 version that lobs avian projectiles at enemy pigs with no need for an app. Pandora Media Inc. used the technology to overhaul its popular Internet radio website, which launches more quickly and helps users more easily track others' listening patterns. Publications including Playboy and Sports Illustrated used HTML5 to let online readers boost the size of photos and rapidly flip through them.

    The trend has been fueled by Apple, Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp.—rivals that more often disagree about technology choices—by building HTML5 support into their latest Web browsers. So have the Mozilla Foundation, maker of Firefox, and Opera Software ASA.

    Some 34% of the 100 most popular websites used HTML5 in the quarter ended in September, according to binvisions.com, a blog that tracks Web technologies. Resume searches by hiring managers looking for HTML5 expertise more than doubled between the first quarter and the third quarter, according the tech job site Dice.com.
    The excitement has spread despite the fact that HTML5 is missing some key features. Many users, moreover, won't notice striking differences from websites that use Flash.

    But Flash, a dominant Web technology before the advent of smartphones, relies on downloaded add-ins to browsers called plug-ins. Mr. Jobs withheld support for the approach in iPhones and iPads, and railed against it his April 2010 essay "Thoughts on Flash."

    Besides citing technical concerns with Flash, Mr. Jobs argued Apple couldn't allow itself to become dependent on Adobe for such critical technology. As a result, on Apple's mobile devices, websites that rely on Flash display black boxes where videos or graphics should appear.

    Adobe rejected Mr. Jobs's arguments, but hedged its bets by developing programming tools that support HTML5 as well as Flash. On Wednesday, it said it would no longer develop new versions of Flash for mobile browsers.
    Google has continued to support Flash in the browser delivered with its Android software. But developers want to create Web apps that work both with Android and iOS, Apple's mobile operating system, says Danny Winokur, Adobe's general manager for interactive development.

    "If you want to be delivering a Web experience around multiple devices, you have to be doing it in HTML5," he says.

    HTML5 takes its name from hypertext markup language, the standard commands used to create Web pages. But the term is a catchall for multiple techniques to handle elements like typography, graphics and video, creating an app-like experience.

    "When you show people HTML5 applications, they say that doesn't feel at all like a website," says Dean Hachamovitch, the corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser.

    The technology is equally important for companies to play snazzy-looking ads in mobile apps, says James Lamberti, a vice president at InMobi Mobile Insights, which places ads on mobile devices. He says that major advertisers using its services swelled to 250 in September from 62 in January. "If they are doing rich-media ads, they are doing HTML5."
    Then there are Flash-based games that haven't been available on the iPhone and iPad, such as popular titles from Zynga Inc., that work with Facebook Inc's social network. The San Francisco company recently announced three HTML5-based games that work on the Apple devices, exploiting a new Facebook mobile app platform that supports the technology.

    Interest from game developers was apparent last week at New Game 2011, a technical conference in San Francisco. Though HTML5 games don't match the graphics and fast action of PC and console games, attendees noted, free social games on the Web are attracting users.

    "The real thing you are competing for now is not dollars but the users' time," says Richard Hilleman, chief creative director for game maker Electronic Arts Inc. "So I need to be everywhere they are, and on all the devices that they have."

    A shift to HTML5 games that work on many devices, in theory at least, could reduce one of Apple's advantages—the thousands of apps that work only with its hardware specifically.

    Cadir Lee, Zynga's chief technology officer, predicts companies will keep tailoring apps for hit devices like Apple's for some time. Yet he thinks HTML5 could eventually evolve to be an even broader technology movement, like that created with websites that could display almost any content. "There is another wave of that revolution that is coming," Mr. Lee says.
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    Nov 13, 2011 7:51 PM GMT

    HTML5 Is Popular, Still Unfinished - Technology's Supporters Push Different Formats for Web Video, Audio Files

    Many people in Silicon Valley agree that HTML5 is a big deal. There is less consensus about what it actually is.

    As the name suggests, the technology includes the fifth generation of the hypertext markup language that is a foundation of the Web. It updates the way elements like text, graphics, photos and animation work inside Web browsers, leading to results that are more like software programs than Web pages.

    Some elements of HTML5, which has been under development for several years, have been formally defined by the World Wide Web Consortium and WHATWG, a newer organization that sprung from work by Apple Inc., the Mozilla Foundation and Opera Software ASA.

    But the term HTML5 is often used, more confusingly, in a broad sense that encompasses pre-existing Web tools. Meanwhile, the standard-setting groups haven't yet specified ways to carry out some chores, so browsers from different vendors can handle some of the new technologies but not others.

    The gaps add to the frustrations of people trying to create browser-based apps in fields such as game software.

    "I really enjoy HTML5 gaming, but as much as I enjoy it, it hurts," said Paul Bakaus, chief technology officer of Zynga Inc.'s operations in Germany, during a conference for developers in San Francisco last week.

    The HTML5 picture is also complicated for video, a key component for websites. Apple and Microsoft use a standard called H.264 that is widely used on the Internet. So does Google, but it more recently added support for a different technology it acquired called VP8.

    That means companies trying to distribute videos may have to store content in both H.264 and VP8 formats to reach most HTML5 browsers.

    "Unfortunately, you have to do both," says Linus Upson, vice president of engineering for Google Inc.'s Chrome browser.

    Similarly, there is no standard audio format. So companies that have shifted to HTML5—like Pandora Media Inc. for its Internet radio service—have to store and serve up music in different formats. "We have to figure out a way to deliver the right audio to the right browser," says Tom Conrad, Pandora's chief technology officer.

    Furthermore, HTML5 doesn't define ways to control specific hardware features on mobile devices like cameras, GPS devices and accelerometers. That capability is important for developers that hope to create browser-based alternatives to apps designed for specific devices.

    One of the biggest drivers for HTML5 is to avoid the labor of creating different apps for different devices. But apps still have technical advantages over HTML-based offerings played in browsers—and many companies want to exploit the Apple and Google app stores to distribute their wares.
    So some developers are using the technology to write conventional apps, using HTML5 code where they can and augmenting that work with more specialized programming.

    Playboy Enterprises Inc. used HTML5 to create a service called i.Playboy.com that offers accessed to scanned pages of every magazine it has published since December 1953. The browser-based service can be viewed on PCs as well as mobile devices, and allows Playboy to avoid using the Apple app store and its 30% cut on sales.

    But Playboy, and many others adopting HTML5, expect at some point to offer native apps, too. "We weren't really thinking about Apple when we were thinking about this application," says Jimmy Jellinek, Playboy's editorial director. "We were thinking about how we can get it to the widest audience possible."
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    Nov 13, 2011 7:53 PM GMT

    The Risk of a Flash Point for Apple

    Steve Jobs scored a posthumous victory Wednesday. Apple shareholders may not have.

    Adobe said it would stop developing its Flash software for mobile devices. Mr. Jobs had famously railed against the software and refused to support it on his company's iPhone and iPad. Apple has long-supported an open standard called HTML5, which Adobe says it will now support.

    Apple investors, however, should be careful of what Mr. Jobs wished for. The rise of HTML5 is a double-edged sword. While Apple notes that the standard empowers Web designers, it also empowers Apple's mobile rivals.

    One reason Apple can charge a premium for its mobile devices is the huge number of apps that are developed for them. There are over 500,000 available for Apple's mobile operating system, compared with over 300,000 for Google's and just 35,000 for Microsoft's. It can be expensive to develop apps for multiple mobile platforms, so developers often start with the most popular ones.

    While HTML5 is still evolving, it should enable many developers to create just one app that works with multiple mobile platforms and that can be downloaded via the Web instead of proprietary app stores. In other words, such "webapps" would be portable across mobile devices, reducing Apple's ability to differentiate its devices. Developers such as the Financial Times and Amazon.com have found a way around Apple's costly app store with webapps, notes IDC analyst Al Hilwa.

    Apps that run directly on mobile devices do have advantages over HTML5 apps running on mobile Web browsers. They have better graphics, important for games, and can access extra functions on the mobile device, including the camera.

    The risk for Apple is that less differentiated products mean lower margins. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi notes PC gross margins once topped 30%. But after being standardized by the Windows operating system and Intel chips, they have fallen to 13%-15%. The crash of Flash isn't such an extreme event, but could be a small step on the way.
  • calibro

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    Nov 13, 2011 10:30 PM GMT
    what's with you and the WSJ today?
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    Nov 13, 2011 10:40 PM GMT
    calibro saidwhat's with you and the WSJ today?

    Just got around to the Friday and Saturday papers, and was impressed at the variety of articles that I thought would be of interest. WSJ covers much technology from a business perspective that I thought would be of interest, especially HTML5 cause there are a lot of techies, and that it was a skill that the article said was increasing in demand. So I thought would be of definite interest from the job perspective as well.
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    Nov 14, 2011 12:30 AM GMT
    I hate how steve jobs said years ago that flash would die since the first iTouch came out then the iPhone and here we are still having it run on almost 70% of the internet. It was a rather stupid move for apple to have made that decision to have made and also very stupid statement considering the same thing was said about apple years ago and look at them now.