Rumors of the mobile web’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Despite some compelling arguments in Wired’s latest series – where experts assert that native apps have (or will soon) totally displace the web as a medium of choice – we’re not quite ready to pull the plug. Apparently, neither is the general public. Not just yet.
More on that in a second, but first, let’s examine why some are making this claim. It’s true that there’s been a meaningful shift towards native apps over the last few years, thanks mostly to the iPhone and its offspring (i.e. smartphones). What was once the Great Wide Open, the Internet has been parceled into what Wired calls “semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display.”
In other words:
You wake up and check your email on your bedside iPad — that’s one app. During breakfast you browse Facebook, Twitter, and The New York Times — three more apps. On the way to the office, you listen to a podcast on your smartphone. Another app. At work, you scroll through RSS feeds in a reader and have Skype and IM conversations. More apps. At the end of the day, you come home, make dinner while listening to Pandora, play some games on Xbox Live, and watch a movie on Netflix’s streaming service….
You’ve spent the day on the Internet — but not on the Web. And you are not alone…
Quite true. But you are also NOT alone if you’re still using the mobile web. As part of our weekly “What Do uThink” poll question, we asked our community whether they prefer to get information via native apps or the mobile web. Here were the results:
- 57% of respondents said they prefer the mobile web (i.e. sites configured for mobile devices)
- 43% of respondents preferred native apps
Wrote one respondent: “My vote goes to Mobile Web as well. There are particular native apps that I use on a regular basis, mainly due to ease-of-use and simplicity. These include weather apps, travel planning apps (kayak.com), music apps (pandora). However, if I’m accessing news and searching for information, I use mobile sites that automatically render as mobile versions of their web sites (cnn.com, google.com)…
…I also foresee the future in which mobile web will be much easier to use, and displace most (not all) of the need for native apps. Instead of downloading the native app itself, there may be shortcuts on your mobile device for easy access. Think about the recent progression away from desktop apps and into purely web apps; mobile is simply a few years behind.”
So is the mobile web dead, dying or just sleeping soundly? Weigh in with your thoughts.