I often get the question, “why the focus on hybrid development for your accelerator?”
This question has come up more and more as Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook’s
focus on HTML5/hybrid development was a mistake.
As I argued over a year ago on this blog, it is
mistake to bet exclusively on native or hybrid since some Apps will call for a
native approach and some will call for a hybrid approach. Projects that need maximum
performance and hardware interaction will require a native approach (medical scanning/rendering
apps and some games come to mind) and projects that require larger reach and very
fast time to market require a hybrid approach. Each approach has its limitations and
If I advocate both approaches in a developer’s toolkit, why would I be starting the
world’s only Hybrid Accelerator? The
reason is that a startup should never, ever, go native. The very nature of
a startup is that you have no money and require a super fast time to market. Just
last week at a startup networking event in Hong Kong two super cool startups showed
me their native apps on their iPhones. They then asked me what I thought of the app.
I said: “your app sucks since over 75% of the smartphone market can’t use it, myself
included as an Android user.” They countered: “we have no money, so we choose one
platform to build the prototype on.”
My advice for them and most startups: For your prototype and V1 release you should
go hybrid. You will have a much broader reach and won’t have to maintain two or more
codebases (and double the programmer staff.) You’ll save time and money.
Once your company matures and you have lots of users and the money to spend on the
development, then you should consider going native if you are bumping into the limitations
of hybrid development (chances are only a small percentage of apps ever will).
What about a company with 1 billion users, over $1b in profits post-IPO, and a super
slow API in the first place? Yes, Mark Zuckerberg proves my point, hybrid development
helped Facebook get to market fast with its hybrid mobile app. It was not a mistake
for Facebook to go to market fast and cheap with a hybrid app. The mistake Zuckerberg
made was not deploy some of those profits to build a better hybrid or go native years
Stephen Forte sits on the board of several start-ups including Triton Works. Stephen is also the Microsoft Regional Director for the NY Metro region and speaks regularly at industry conferences around the world. He has written several books on application and database development including Programming SQL Server 2008 (MS Press).