Carriers in turn could benefit from reduced handset prices and, as a result, lower handset subsidies. The researchers expect that HTML5 apps would also cache data, which means that data usage is not likely to increase and the average revenue per user (ARPU) would not be affected. The increase of HTML5 usage would, however, have an overall negative impact on mobile device makers.
There are advantages for some manufacturers. "While no one would be unaffected, relatively speaking such a shift would favor larger and lower-cost vendors," said Bernstein's research. Asian mobile device manufacturers like Samsung, and to some extent LG, could benefit from the consolidation. Bernstein compares this effect to the consolidation in the PC business.
The switch from native apps to HTML5 apps will not happen overnight. At the moment, HTML5 apps have some problems that native apps do not. HTML5 apps are typically slower than native apps, which is a particularly important issue for games. An estimated 20 percent of mobile games will most likely never be Web apps, Bernstein said.
Furthermore, there are currently differences in Web browsers across mobile platforms that can raise development costs for HTML5 apps. They can also pose a greater security risk. This can result in restricting access to underlying hardware by handset manufacturers to reduce the possible impact of these risks.
Taking all this into account, Bernstein Research reckoned that HTML5 will mature in the next few years, which will in turn have an impact on Apple's revenue growth. Nevertheless, the research firm, which itself makes a market in Apple, still recommended investing in the company.
"We believe that the emergence of HTML5 apps is an important, longer term issue for Apple investors to monitor, given its potential to undermine margins and share in Apple's iPad and iPhone franchises," Bernstein concluded. The research firm believes that Apple stock is "compellingly valued at current levels" and that "ultimately some of the risk of pressured margins and slowing growth is captured in its prevailing valuation. Bernstein said: "Apple remains our top pick and we rate it outperform with a price target of $510."