The bewildering pace of change of mobile devices and formats has kept application developers on their toes. It has also forced businesses to limit the range of platforms they can support, and sideline other, perhaps more innovative ones.

Meanwhile, the complexities caused by patent wars have thrown an additional spanner into the works. Whilst the patent wrangles may appear on the surface to be a row between Apple and Google, they can affect businesses more widely when the functionality of their apps gets reduced overnight, due to fixes designed to get round patent legalities.

As with any part of the IT team, mobile app developers don’t want to keep redoing their code over and over for each new trendy device or platform. But the reality is that they are faced with a multitude of wonderful, yet incompatible devices and environments, and businesses have to choose between them in order to maintain market reach and optimise their development costs.

Internally the IT department, if it really wants to encourage full on BYOD, faces supporting multiple platforms, and paying the development costs.

From the end user’s point of view, all that matters is that their app works, and gives them the level of usability they need, and that goes for whichever device they opt for. On the other side of the fence, the developer’s dream is to offer a compelling cross-platform user experience that spans environments and hardware architectures. For one thing, it makes coding easier, and for another, it lowers development costs, and IT management and support costs further down the line.

What’s needed is an open development ecosystem which enables software developers to write code once that will run across multiple environments and devices.

HTML5 is a not perfect solution, but it is a usable work in progress, and progressing towards a de facto global standard. Consequently, it should be embraced by business as a platform for a more permissive BYOD strategy in the workplace - and externally, for a more inclusive offering to customers. Even Flash stalwart Adobe threw its weight behind HTML5 by releasing a developer tool in August 2011 that features HTML 5, along with CSS and JavaScript.

A more recent indication that an open development ecosystem could be on its way is Intel’s commitment to the concept, at its latest Intel Developer Forum. Intel committed to ensure HTML5 adoption accelerates and remains an open standard, showing how fundamental the need for a common mobile platform is.