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Native vs. Web applications — 13 April 2010

One of the recurrent topics on which I have been getting a lot of questions recently is the opposition (or perceived opposition) between native applications and Web applications — particularly on mobile phones where applications stores have gathered so much attention.

I participated last month in a barcamp where we tried to explore the various differences between the development of an installable application based on the a “native” programming language, and an application that lives in the Web browser.

A white paper from a GIA analyst shows some of the reasons why some service and content providers choose native applications in preference to Web applications, according to a survey they made:

Results of survey showing why some providers prefer native apps to Web apps

(the survey has plenty of other interesting results, e.g. on the higher retention rate of Web applications)

The top two reasons given are:

  • Ability to build a superior user interface,
  • Access to device hardware capabilities (e.g. accelerometer).

With the ongoing work in the HTML, CSS and SVG Working Groups, the Web is going to catch up quickly with the ability to build a superior user interface — and maybe even going to take the lead given the broad number of experimentations and sharing that the Web enables.

For advanced hardware integration, the WebApps, Device APIs and Policy, and Geolocation Working Groups are bringing a wealth of JavaScript APIs that will hopefully reduce that advantage of native applications in the coming months and years.

Native apps: bring it on!

by Dominique Hazael-Massieux in Looking forward 1 comment Permalink

Comments, Pingbacks:

Comment from: Dan Silivestru [Visitor] ·
I couldn't agree more. Another way that to deliver rich mobile applications that could be deployed across multiple platforms is to use Mobile Widgets. is just one example, but once device manufacturers and network providers implement the full API, a mobile widget will be pretty much indistinguishable from a native app.

Seeing that mobile widgets are built using HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, the barrier to entry for developers will be rather low. And since widgets can be packaged and then downloaded onto a phone through an application store, developers should be able to monetize their widgets the same way they do native apps.

Native apps... bring it on indeed :-)
PermalinkPermalink 2010-04-13 @ 20:09

Contacts: Dominique Hazael-Massieux