Mobile web vs. native apps: It's not about technology, it's about psychology

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Cold logic makes a hard case for opting for mobile web apps over native ones. If you can build it in HTML, CSS, and javascript, then do, right? Except for the pesky little detail called the real world, where marketers demand apps, boardrooms pay for apps, and even worse, users seem to prefer them. Or do they? In this talk, Brian will try to reframe the web vs native vs hybrid debate into a conversation about what your customers really need, and what theyll actually use. The technology you choose for your mobile approach is of strategic importance, but you need to be thinking about much more than just technology.


  • 1. Mobile web vs. native:Its not about technology, its about psychology@brian_donohue

2. This debate has been around a while - sort of 3. Remember when Virgin used to be cool? 4. Execs just want an iPhone/Android app 5. How many of them are just vanity apps? 6. There have been some strong opinions 7. Native apps are aremnant of the Jurassicperiod of computerhistory, a local maximumthat is holding us back.The combination of adiscovery service and just-in-time interaction is apowerful interaction modelthat native apps cant beginto offer. 8. Its all about the App InternetGilt CEO toldhim customersare movingfrom web to theapp becauseits faster,simpler, moreimmersive 9. Apparently no one else in his company agrees 10. Be wary -- this stuff changes fast 2010: (Website owners interested in developing an iPhone app might start by developing an iPhone- targeted website, where most of this books design principles also apply.) 2011:Platforms are risky places to put yourbusiness...If you can do it with the Web -- do it with the Web. Itsfaster, cheaper, and easier. Web app masters tour, 2011: 11. And lets not ignore the bigger context here 85% Source: mobile phone users in the world usetheir phone for SMS. SMS is theprimary use for mobile phone usersaround the world. 12. 48 hours time it takes for the average email to be read after its sent 4 minutes time it takes for the averageSMS to be read after its sentSource: 13. Cokes 70:20:10 rule for mobile: 70% to SMS and MMS 20% mobile internet 10% mobile apps 14. Of course -- what does Coke need an app for? 15. Data suggests its neck and neck47.6% of mobile Internet customers use nativemobile apps and 47.5% use the Web browser on theirdevices. 16. But it varies a lot 17. People are getting fed up with the debate 18. While many people try to argue for oneside or the other, the truth is there aregreat reasons for doing both 19. OK - so its not a zero sum gameBut we still have to choose an approach! 20. The logic that makes this seem obvious 21. Fragmentation 22. Going native is a policy of exclusion... 23. supports 5 native mobile platformsWe could probably save 70% of ourdevelopment budget by switching to a single,cross-platform clientPhil Lebin, CEO supports 4 native mobile platforms...all of these users on all these devices using Facebook mobile in the widerainbow of lovely different experiences across Android, iPhone, Windows, theWeb. That was great from a user perspective. What sucks? Theenvironment for my developers, essentially. You have the bad old days.You have four different platforms to build for something essentially. You want tobuild for all of those groups? You are going to have to build the sucker fourtimes.Dave Fetterman,Engineering Manager 24. Defining native vs. mobile webObjective C HTML, CSS, JSworks best on webkit browsers Java C ++ 25. Different platforms usually meansdifferent peopleJava Objective C 26. Native isnt always betterNative app only BothWeb app only Gyroscope and Store data offline Much easier to test, Accelerometer Access GPS prototype, and rollout Accessing filesystems Have app-like UI and Can update (e.g. address book, transitionsimmediately (no app photos)store approval), Accessible as app Fully-immersivecustomers dont have from home screen experience (e.g. to update the app gaming) HTML 5 is continually Support in-app adding hardware purchasescapabilities (Apple takes 30% cut) Camera Smoother and more responsive 27. Whos going with HTML 5? 28. The magic bullet? 29. So is this an easy one? 30. So lets look at these criteria a little closer1. Your app needs to use the hardware 31. Native app only BothWeb app only Gyroscope and Store data offline Much easier to test,Accelerometer Access GPS prototype, and rollout Accessing filesystems Have app-like UI and Can update(e.g. address book, transitionsimmediately (no appphotos)store approval), Accessible as app Fully-immersivecustomers dont havefrom home screenexperience (e.g. to update the appgaming) Can link to the app ??Findability??(e.g. SMS with link to Support in-apppurchasesyour bill)(Apple takes 30% cut) HTML 5 is continually Camera adding hardware capabilities Smoother and moreresponsive 32. This was reason we went native with Tayto 33. Gmail launched their native app in November 34. It didnt go down so well amongst technorati 35. Panned in the reviews as well 36. Lesson: app expectations areVERY HIGH 37. 2. Frequency of use 38. Apps that people use the most - the habit forming ones 39. As this data shows, while smart phone clients areimportant, there are even more people who use themobile Twitter web site and/or SMS." 40. Out of 425 million mobile users: 41. Just because you hope peoplewill use your app frequently, that doesntnecessarily mean they need a native app 42. 3. Damn those links 43. Do you send out emails or SMSs? Cries out for links to their mobile app (if they had one) 44. The big disconnect 45. 4. The experience is just better 46. Its about theanimations,the speed,the feel, theexperienceof the wholething 47. A billion shared momentsPath Instagram 48. What about their desktop experience? 49. Clear app/ The new cool? 50. Oooh, I can do that in HTML 5 51. Well, sorta / But not for any other phones 52. You can actually do a lot of this with HTML5The Web app andnative experiencesare very similar. Wehad set out to mimicthe native app andmake the transition tothe Web appseamless. Althoughit was tricky toachieve preciselythe same quality(e.g., access toapis), we quickly gotvery close (say,80-90% the sameuser experience). Wehave since stoppeddevelopment of thenative app and areaggressivelydeveloping theHTML5 version. 53. But to (nearly) replicate the UI, youre basically writingcode totally tailored to one device. Its like a nativeapp, its just a different language.And the experience will never be quite as good. 54. It doesnt feel like a real app 55. Lesson:If the experience is part of yourdifferentiator, you gotta make it native 56. 5. Findability 57. Maybe this will take off? 58. The cold reality:We still live in an app culture 59. 60. People expect you to have an app 61. Average iOS device owner downloads this many apps in a year83 apps in 201151appsin 2010Source: 62. But hold on a second... 63. What that looks like 64. Are you going to be a top 10 app? 65. To download is not to keep, or use iOS and Android users 66. The disposable app culture:Download it,use it once,forget about it,bin it 67. Why isnt there a parallel debateabout whether to build for theMac App store or the desktop browser? 68. Our app culture isnt all that logical.Why isnt there a parallel debate(What culture is?)to build for theabout whetherMac App store or the desktop browser? 69. You need to be brave to tell your bossthat our customers wont be able todownload our app from the app store. 70. Will we see our app culture disappear? Brent Simmons - creator of NetNewsWire 71. The app culture:Download it,use it once,forget about it,bin it 72. So....There are loads of reasons to go with the web Cost/effort Reach Links Complete control 73. But..There are good reasons to go native: When you have to use the hardware When UX needs to be a differentiator When you wont get found unless youre in the app store (Many of us) live in app culture, albeit a disposable one 74. Be realistic,be brave,dont go native unless youknow you really need to 75. Thanks for listening!iQ Content Ltd, Clarendon House, 34-37 Clarendon Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. +353 (0)1 677 1140