but now’s the time to dispel the myth that apps deliver a far richer experience.
In fact, mobile websites are simpler and cheaper, allowing you to build a very rich desktop style experience for the plethora of new devices available today. Apps were merely a transitionary step to get users familiar with mobile internet. Research in Motion’s Co-CEO Jim Balsillie, speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit just before the release of its Playbook tablet, described Apple's mobile app development model as totally flawed, commenting: “You should be able to publish with the tools you already use. You don't need an app for the Web!”
We’re already seeing some content providers ditching their apps in favour of HTML5 content, with no loss of functionality. The UK’s Financial Times recently abandoned the iStore to offer direct access through a web browser, selling the benefits of automatic enhancements without the need to download upgrades. Imagine that!
There’s a tide of consumer concern now starting to emerge about the app-based approach to mobility: they take up too much screen space, are hard to organise, take up too much memory space and, increasingly, there are privacy concerns. In the US, 13 people launched a class action against Apple and a slew of app providers because their personal address books were harvested without their permission.
Today consumers have the choice of a wide range of mobile and tablet devices, all offering access to the mobile web. With great advances in mobile web development technology – in particular HTML5 – marketers can produce a fully functional mobile website, with the rich look and feel of an app.
HTML5 has gone well beyond what you’re used to seeing on desktops, with a high-end graphics type capability and 2D or even 3D capabilities. It offers richer functionality and integration capabilities, addressing some of the key gaps between native hardware, APIs (Application Programming Interface) and the web. It’s also taken advantage of some of the sensors that these mobile devices now have — accelerometers, location capability or geolocation.
Surely this means mobile apps have reached their tipping point. Smart marketers will see the trend and start to divert their limited budgets to mobile web, instead of throwing it at proprietary apps. The user will win too, accessing content via a browser, linked to and bookmarked without the need to visit the iStore. In fact, just like the Internet we grew up with!
To my thinking, marketers who adopt the fundamentally flawed apps-only mobile strategy are missing the beat. It is far smarter for brands to build a mobile strategy with mobile web at the heart of it, with mobile apps on top. It’s all about creating the ultimate user experience!