With the way technology is changing there is quite a robust debate on whether it is better to have a mobile application or a mobile website. I know there is no hard and fast answer – and many situations both may make sense. There is certainly a balance given the cost of developing applications across multiple platforms and the loss in functionality on a mobile website. Here are some very interesting perspectives from technology experts that can help clarify the confusion – or add to it!!
Time Inc., Hachette execs go head-to-head on mobile Web versus app debate
NEW YORK – While Time Inc. and Hachette Filipacchi Media both have mobile Web sites and applications, executives from each company took different stances on the debate at Netbiscuits Partner Day 2010.
One the one hand, client applications are red-hot right now and can offer a richer device-specific experience than a mobile site. However, the mobile Web offers greater reach than downloadable applications—a mobile-optimized site can overcome the fragmentation of the various App Stores and mobile operating systems.
“The mobile browser is the killer app—mobile Web sites will come up in search results, as opposed to downloadable apps, where discoverability is an issue,” said John Paris, director of mobile products at Time Inc., New York.
Does HTML5 make mobile app downfall inevitable?
An Adobe Mobile Study found that consumers prefer the mobile Web over smartphone applications, which has huge implications for mobile advertisers, retailers and content providers.
Within the consumer products, shopping, media and entertainment categories, 66 percent of respondents cited that they prefer the mobile Web for accessing content compared to 34 percent who cited a preference for downloadable applications.
“I am not a great proponent of apps as a commerce destination to drive reach and frequency with your shoppers,” said Gary Schwartz, president of Impact Mobile, New York. “There is tons of value for the shopper in certain apps but they do not necessarily drive your retail sales goals.
The end of the app
Now, with my thoughts on applications, I believe that in the coming years mobile developers will not be out of work. But I doubt that most of the mobile developments will be in application. The only reason we use applications is because the mobile browsing experience is not very user-friendly at the moment. The fact that we need to download, install and click on an application for every little thing is pretty awkward.
HTML5 is great for usability and easiness of use, both for the developer and the user. However, it is not a set standard yet. That HTML5 will end the immense amount of application developments is pretty sure. On the development side there is a huge advantage with HTML5.
I think it is fair to predict that improvements to mobile Web browsers such as HTML5 and Flash will render the vast majority of applications obsolete. I give it another three to four years max.
Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch Defends Flash, Warns HTML5 Will Throw The Web “Back To The Dark Ages Of Video”
Adobe’s Flash technology has been taking a beating lately. Apple still won’t support it on its upcoming iPad or its iPhone. Steve Jobs calls it buggy and crash-prone and dismisses Adobe as being lazy. Adobe is trying to fight the negative vibes emanating from Cupertino and elsewhere. It has already pointed out that it will be easy to convert Flash apps into iPad apps, and now CTO Kevin Lynch is weighing in to defend Flash.
So, where do you stand? Would you recommend a mobile application or a mobile website? Or both? I don’t think neither is an option anymore.