App or Web, that is the question

App or Web is the question every business is asking its development team. Shall we go the native application route with its nice responsiveness, look and feel or the Web route that is multi platform and is always up to date.

I’ve tried to put the pros and cons in the single table so every decision maker can make his own mind on this question.

app vs web

app vs web

Both approaches make sense, but usualy one fits better than the other with the short term targets.

For instance on Kitchbi we have started the project with a Web application as we wanted to be available on all platforms. In a second phase we are considering applications for a few selected platforms that fit with our target (iPad and Android in the case of Kitchbi).

The App vs. Web question is often a matter of Reach vs. Rich.

Facebook pushing mobile advantage foward

Analysts were thinking not long ago that Facebook should launch a mobile device decidcated to its service. Hopefuly they didn’t do this mistake and have a fairly smart approach to mobile: they are launching a java based app for low end feature phone. > Telecoms.com article

The reason is simple, in Western countries smartphone is king and people are already using Facebook on their mobile. Facebook is now focusing on were its main customer growth lies, in developping countries were feature phones are common place and smartphones still rare.

As I was mentionning in a previous post last year, the future of Facebook is mobile, everybody seems to be on the same page now.

The right question now if you are developping a website or a web service is what platform to target first, the web beeing one amongst others…

This blog in an app on OVI Store

I couldn’t resist the OVI store advertisement: Create your own app in minutes thanks to Ovi app wizard.

> Give it a try

So I just tried out to build an application that will display this blog on Nokia devices.

Porting Mobiles and Butterflies on an Ovi app

This was quite easy as you just have to know the URL of your feeds. Ovi kindly offered me to push some advertisement on my application:

Ovi advertisement program

Ovi advertisement program

I chose of course some pictures for the banners and icons and this is it, my ‘Mobiles and Butterflies’ application is pending Nokia’s approval:

Mobiles and Butterflies pending approval

Mobiles and Butterflies pending approval

I really created this application in a few minutes. It will be available on S40 and S60 devices from the Ovi Store on a Global basis.

Nokia just unleashed the power to create a mobile application to any dummy. Local governments, associations, and people will be able to distribute their information to mobile devices at no cost as long as they have a website supporting RSS.

That’s really a breakthrough innovation.

From a walled garden to another

In the early 2000s each mobile operator have launched its own mobile portal with nice WAP, iMode, or Web services for its customers only. And its customers were supposed to use these services only. It was called a walled garden. These portals still remain but are now competing with those from the main stream internet thanks to the ever improving browsing capabilities of the devices.

Now take a step back at the fierce competition on the OS platform. Manufacturers / Platform providers have re invented the walled garden. Consumers can get applications only from their closed on-device market place. Even Microsoft with Windows Phone 7 is banning application side loading from a PC or a SD Card. If I find a terrific niche application not available from an app. market, how do I do?

The walled-garden portals from mobile operators have shown one thing: Consumers don’t like to stay in closed spaces for long and smart guys love to make ladders to step over the fence.

What’s the WAC? The dumb pipes awakening!

WAC for Wholesale Application Community, the last minute initiative from the GSMA at MWC, is trying to keep the operators in the application race, i.e. the service race as more and more service are delivered through application (see previous posts). It is a matter of survival for operators if they want a piece of the service pie in the future.

At MWC sessions, Operators were complaining about the device OS fragmentation, forgetting that they are at the ones who manage this fragmentation inside their device portfolio to avoid to be dependent from a manufacturer. But with the tremendous success of Apple and RIM, the strong service ambitions of Nokia they all feel threatened of being transformed into dumb pipe business in the mid term and … they are right. Vodafone’s CEO cleared stated it’s worries with Google advertisement monopoly. The fear is a great self motivator for change for operator behemoth.

The Wholesale Application Community initiative shows the right way: developers will never develop an application for a specific network operator using its proprietary APIs. Operators’ APIs need to be standardized and open like the SMS premium gateways operator have managed to launch few years ago.  The Canadian OneAPI is clearly the programme to watch even if it’s late as the GSMA guys have been not very reactive.

Nevertheless one technology may blow away the dark clouds over the operators, it’s HTML5. HTML5 enables flash like website without … flash. Developers will be able to produce website with animation, drag-and-drop and media playback, etc. without the help of any plug-in in the browser. HTML5 will make applications platform independent and contribute to the de-fragmentation of the application market.
That’s for the promises, but each technology has a flip side or at least some limitations, and HTML5 ones are still to be discovered.