Web-Apps vs. Native Apps

The debate over developing Html5 vs. Native Apps is ongoing as consumers demand more intuitive apps, smartphones dominate the mobile space, and developers seek multi-platform compatibility. However, the way an application is developed appears to be irrelevant to the end user as long as the experience remains consistent and seamlessly delivers content. On the development side, it appears that there is a preference, mainly outside of the Apple world, for developers to focus on the platform-agnostic, browser-based apps since content can easily be reformatted, developed, and shared. In addition most app and game developer companies need to focus on their business model, the limitations of the different environments, and what needs to be done for scalability. I agree browser based apps have a future and game developers seem to miss the real issues between a browser based vs. a native app. The question is not so much which is better, but rather the expectation which we have set in the users mind.

Some of the earliest mobile applications were primarily web-based but as a result of end-users demand for easily accessible, interactive and feature-rich applications, developers have been forced to create native apps-offering faster, more responsive features. For example, the iPhone had a ton of browser based apps to start with, many were very good, but almost all are not used nearly as much today as the native apps. Browser traffic, which is high and will remain high, is being driven by widgets like ESPN and CNN, and others that launch the browser as a result of user interaction (think Facebook on Android). Although web-based apps can deliver a rich user experience, they have a long way to go provide the same type of experience as native apps.

Html5 will be an important part of the future, but just like using the browser today, you are at the mercy of the viewer (e.g. the browser) which is different from platform to platform and even device to device. This has and will continue to limit browser based apps. It is going to likely come down to the developers choosing native apps over browser-based apps based on the need for the local control elements, access to deeper device features, to extend UI needs, and meet the demands of the security and business models.  On the other hand, the browser based apps will continue to be developed, some with the façade of a native app, being launched from an icon or widgets which are made available through an app store. The user will be largely unaware of the choice between html5 and native apps if the developer does their job right. This leaves the topic open for debate-where is the mobile application market headed if browser-based vs. native app development is not visible to the end-user, and it comes down to consumer demand for a superior experience? IMHO it doesn’t matter if you meet the consumers’ needs.

About mluna7

Michael Luna joined SEVEN in 2010 as Chief Technology Officer and is responsible for the company’s long-term technology and innovation strategy. Luna is a pioneer in the wireless data industry with more than 30 years of management and engineering design experience. Prior to joining SEVEN, Luna served as CTO for AliphCom (Jawbone) where he led early technology evolution, intellectual property and legal services. Prior to AliphCom, he served as CTO for Openwave where he drove the innovation of its industry-leading software solutions and services. Luna also served as Openwave's Vice President of Consulting Engineering, where he and his team generated an average of $50 million per year as a result of active engagements with customers worldwide. Prior to his time at Openwave, Luna served as CTO for 724 Solutions, where he was responsible for technical strategy and standards. He also managed the development of five product lines for the network and data services company. Luna has been awarded 12 patents in the mobile telecommunications field and has co-authored industry papers, standards and held industry leadership positions in OMA, WAP Forum, CDG, TIA and PCMIA. He also developed the first WAP 2 deployment in Japan. Luna serves on the advisory board of AliphCom and Cequient, Inc.
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