NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Earlier this month, the Financial Times and ESPN debuted slick new applications for smartphones and tablets. But you won't find them in the iTunes App Store or Android Market. These apps run in your browser window.
That's a sea change that could reshape the app landscape.
Right now, all roads to the iPhone and iPad run through Apple. The only straightforward way for users to load apps onto their Apple devices is to download the software from Apple's curated and tightly controlled app store. Things are a little looser in the Android ecosystem, where Google lets almost anything into its Android Market and Amazon runs a rival Android Appstore, but gatekeepers still stand between app developers and their customers.
That's about to change, thanks to an emerging Web standard called HTML5. The new standard supports video, offline reading, touch and gestural interaction -- all functions that, until recently, were only available for mobile devices on native apps.
"We actively tried to replicate what we had in our native app into our HTML5 app," says Rob Grimshaw, managing director of FT.com. "There's not a single thing we couldn't do in HTML5 that we could do in our native app."
When the FT Web app went live a few weeks ago, the company stopped offering its app in Apple's store. The new FT site is so similar to the old native app that many focus group testers refused to believe they were on the Web.
I'm a multi-disciplinary designer-strategist at HP. My passion is whole product design: the seamless integration of HW+SW+Web to deliver compelling experiences to users. I'm currently swimming upstream to bring Web 2.0-style community participation to HP's consumer printing business.