Re-writing the same application in one platform or another may offer some performance trade-off, but I don’t accept the claim that simply going from HTML5 to native “doubled the speed” (however that ambiguous determination is made). It is likely that they made several changes in the applications architecture, data structures and algorithms to realize these performance gains, which most likely would have been done only AFTER they made a decision to go native, so I strongly suspect performance was not the deciding factor for going native, maybe not a factor at all.
- Code execution time is millions/billions times faster than data transfer over the network; the performance bottlenecks were in downloading data, not code execution, so it had nothing to do with language and platform. They realized an improvement by caching data long term to reduce the dependency on network transfers (i.e. an architecture, data and algorithmic change, NOT a platform change).
- HTML5 apps can cache data, and with the appropriate frameworks for putting HTML5 apps onto mobile devices, one can access (generally) the same storage facilities native apps have access to – SD Card, filesystem, etc.
As the article states, Facebook is recruiting around 200 engineers specifically for mobile development and training existing employees for native app development. As they are shifting their marketing & business strategy to a larger emphasis on mobile, my guess is they see value in taking advantage of native SDK features such as UI components, interactive widgets, cross-app integration, etc to enhance their experience and have more ways to engage users.
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