Mobile app technology is not going anywhere. In fact, it’s going everywhere. Mobile app technology is seeing the fastest growth among consumer and business functions such as shopping, productivity and utility, according to a 2014 report by Flurry Analytics.
Averaging just less than three hours per day on their mobile devices, U.S consumers have intimate relationships with their apps. A startling statistic when compared with Bureau of Labor Statistics data, which shows U.S. parents spend, on average, only three minutes per day engaged in face-to-face conversation with their children and 2.4 minutes daily eyes-down reading with their kids.
So as native app usage continues to increase and outpace any competition, mobile Web usage has lost timeshare, dipping six percent from the year prior to just 14% of time spent in 2014. If time is money, then the Web app market is experiencing a big billfold bleed, as there are now more active mobile devices (7.22 billion) than people on Earth (7.2 billion).
So do Websites and browser Web apps have a robust revival or a dusty Award of Antiquity in their future? Is it worth the time and money to migrate existing technology, or is the greatest efficiency and functionality ensconced in the development of fresh solutions with native Mobile Apps exclusively? At Leale Solutions, we look and the pros and cons of each scenario.
Native Mobile Apps are cutting edge. Not just the new kids but truly the cool kids on the block. They have everyone’s attention but like a sugar-dosed child at a piano recital, all attention is not guaranteed to be good attention. But the user experience is targeted, rich and immersive. Mobile technology can be a real game changer for exposing the products and services that power your business revenue.
Mobile technology is also young – native yet naïve. And it can be expensive, cumbersome at times, and require tenacity and dedication. Your Mobile apps will be exposed to hundreds of devices and have the Utopian expectation to work flawlessly on all of them. The learning curve challenges to overcome are aplenty for the developers and designers as well as the entire business. To be successful, the integrated project team needs to understand the intuitive functionality and ease of use. This means the maximum effect combining the fewest swipes and taps with a gorgeous face.
Mobile also commands a different paradigm in regard to updates and business function delivery. The bundling of minor releases and delayed major updates are in days gone by. The Mobile marketplace demands constant updates and instant gratification. Also, testing and QA strategy is significantly altered. Your users take their experience with your app seriously. It is imperative that you listen to your users and their feedback. If their concerns are not addressed as enhancements or at least recognized, you face abandonment.
Mobile-friendly Web apps or rich Internet applications were all the rage and took the leading role on stage for quite a stint. Through the early 2000s, there existed a chasm between the rich user experience of a Desktop application and the glaring limitations of a browser-based Web application. By the mid- 2000s, newer technologies such as Ajax, SilverLight, and JavaFX drastically narrowed this gap. Experiences were now connected, more alive, more interactive, and more responsive. Expansive enterprise Web-based applications became far more attractive. This new pretty girl walked by and was low maintenance and a cheap date. Development remained relatively inexpensive, with developers available and affordable. Compatibility was simplistic, as there was a limited set of browsers, which needed to support your Web application. And enhancements and deployments were centralized and easily managed while advancements in responsive, adaptive design patterns facilitated the development of Mobile-friendly experiences.
Then on June 29, 2007, Steven Jobs and Apple released the first-generation iPhone, and our world would never be the same.
Bottom line, if you lack confidence in your collective ability to produce Mobile apps, have constraints of time, money or resources, or just don’t have a clear strategy, breathe. There may be a best of both worlds for you. Build Web technology with a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and start dogfooding… Web technology for business rules, logic serving Mobile apps and mobile-friendly pages. Mobile-friendly Web pages are a must anyway.
As Google’s mobile search algorithm announcement in April 2015 revealed, mobile-friendly sites receive higher ranking. Non-compliant sites will receive a swift kick from the demotion boot. So if the all-mighty, halo-donning Google puts Mobile users first, shouldn’t you?
Both native app and Mobile-friendly Web apps play a distinct role in your technology strategy. For the foreseeable future, Mobile-friendly Web apps will remain a valuable utility. They are cost-effective, scalable implementations, which can prolong the life and value of Web solutions. They can also serve as a bridge to native App development. And backend services can be repurposed when migrating to native mobile apps.
Just make sure you don’t wait too long to implement your native mobile app strategy. Mobile-friendly Web applications will soon be categorized with Desktop applications, VCRs and dinosaurs. There are 7.22 billion reasons to get moving swiftly toward native mobile apps.