Life is Not an App Store – Mobile Web Apps vs. Native Apps for Enterprise – Part 1
December 7, 2011
The rapid growth of native mobile applications leaves many asking, what is the future of mobile Web Apps? So many people currently think that the way to go into mobility is to create native applications for their business because this is the more dominant form of digital interaction that they see. However, take a deeper look and you will find that use of HTML5 (the much-anticipated Flash-killer), JqueryMobile and CSS3 becomes more and more suited to some big companies’ tastes for mobility. Look no further than a quick search on TechCrunch to see that mobile Web is a viable enterprise option.
But how do you know which method to choose? Will new and developing browser technologies like HTML5 make the mobile Web preferable to apps? These really aren’t simple questions, but our clients – developers, engineers, product strategists, and brands large and small – all want to know what the future will look like in order to make spending decisions. I’ll reveal some of the most important considerations when we help our customers make the choice in this two-part series.
Keep in mind that the question is more complex than it seems. There are many more decisions to be made if you do choose mobile Web vs. native app. But first – you must choose a pathway.
Reasons to choose Mobile Web applications
1. The rise of HTML5, CSS3 and Jquery Mobile haven’t yet peaked. Expect to see a rise in others choosing Web apps over native apps as these new technologies become more widely available. As the technologies become more pervasive, they inherit the benefits of their predecessors, such as a large user community and widespread documentation.
2. The variety of mobile devices and OS available also haven’t peaked. As new devices are released, and new operating systems with different requirements appear on the market, developers need to spend more efforts in versioning and supporting applications. Mobile web provides an opportunity for developers and companies to manage one version, and deploy it to multiple locations.
3. Easier Web promotion via social media is possible – as the app exists as a Web site itself. More easily tweetable, likeable, or plusable (is that a word?), Web apps provide a simpler promotion landing page, Web apps can be accessed from any device and linked to from any medium. Native apps published in an app store, however, may receive very little notice as app stores become more and more bloated with shoddy or useless apps and less-than-valuable comment posts.
4. Security options abound – and are as scalable as you want them to be. For most companies, this is the most important thing that they need to consider when putting an application out there, especially for customer data transfer. Unlike native apps, web apps can easily leverage built in security on the current backend system without worrying about device level security – not to mention the added cost to develop separate security components for multiple devices.
5. Control is in your hands. Many developers, even if they don’t yet, will eventually prefer HTML5 over native apps, since web-based products allow them to cut out Apple or the Android Market as a middleman. With the device OS provider holding the reigns, distribution, feature enhancements, and especially revenue generation become much harder as that provider takes 30% of the share. Mobile web apps provide a more flexible scenario – as updates can be pushed as often as necessary without a tax on the provider or the user, and where subscription and payment options are more favorable.
With all these benefits, it seems crazy that anyone would choose to pursue a native app – but there are still some major reasons that companies are doing so, and we’ll explore those reasons in Part 2 of this series.