It is fascinating despite the fact that HTML5 and CSS3 give us very good user experience, when it comes solutions that largely push or marketing channels where caching has limited benefit there is still the ever growing perceived need to produce mobile apps. There are some great images which compares Facebook as an app vs Facebook as a web app.
So, if the labels didn’t give the game away then, you’d be looking for the tell tail signs of the browser – icons at the bottom of the page.
So the question begs, why build the mobile app and the mobile capable web app? The argument that the web app requires less traffic as you’re not downloading all he graphics has only limited credence as you have to pull all of this down with the app to start with. The browser will cache a lot of the content if you let it. Good web apps will make use of AJAX or Sockets to ensure only necessary content is retrieved so your download is going to be limited. The offline argument doesn’t work as you’re trying to provide current content.
To be honest, I think a lot of the answer comes down to a couple of simple factors:
- is rather simple, a mobile app will find it easier to retrieve more information about the user
- There is the mentality of I’m not a ‘digital’ player if I don’t have an app, and who isn’t going to challenge this?
So should we be pushing for OS providers to make it easier to install launch icons from your device (it is do able already but not in your face obvious). But also allow web apps that are designed to work well on mobile devices to be certified and listed within their stores. Perhaps even offer a configuration shell that setups a desktop link as if an app has been downloaded.
Doing so should take the burden off the app stores! may not benefit beyond a small download bandwidth, but has to be good news for Apple and others.