At Opinionmeter, we’ve been monitoring the development of HTML 5.0 for some time now, with an eye to how it may augment online survey technology and mobile-web surveys in particular. We’ve invested a good deal in our TouchPoint mobile survey apps because our customers require a fast and robust, feature-rich app that requires controlling a mobile device’s GPS, speed-in-time (accelerometer), camera, microphone, etc. These features require accessing the native API’s that control the device’s camera, microphone, accelerometer, etc. that require a native survey app to control. This is a major difference between mobile-web and native survey apps. Mobile-web is an online survey running in a browser and cannot control the mobile device’s operating system or gain access to its API’s required to control the richer features mentioned above.
Another major difference between a mobile-web survey and a native survey app is the offline survey capabilities a native survey app provides. Will HTML 5.0 change this? From our research, the answer is yes and no! HTML 5 will allow 5 to 10MB of local offline storage, which will allow for some offline capabilities but given one 10 second video would exceed this storage limit, multi-media recording is pretty much off the table. From our calculations, HTML 5 will allow approximately 50-100 surveys (without any media). There is some discussion around the possibility of the user being able to have some control over the local storage limits, but this is still somewhat vague. We also have read in some articles where the user will be prompted when local storage has been exceeded, allowing the user to extend storage limits… this may be promising but most likely will be different from browser to browser. Not to get to complex here, but there are also several different methods of how to store data locally. The following link points to an excellent article on this subject: http://www.html5rocks.com/en/tutorials/offline/storage/
It’s not a question of mobile web or mobile app – rather, it’s a question of application. At Opinionmeter we believe each have unique advantages. I don’t think mobile-web will ever replace the robust, feature-rich capabilities of native mobile survey apps, nor will a survey app be the ubiquitous solution for mobile surveys for consumers which need to be accessible at the point-of-purchase without having to first download an app. Each solution has its strengths and weaknesses!