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Lie Luo, Lead Consultant for Mobile and Wireless at Global Intelligence Alliance, talks about the white paper.
Why is this topic of Native or Web mobile applications important?
“The choice over a web or native (i.e. device specific) application interface holds important implications on, or is dictated by, the following launch considerations:
First, it impacts user experience design, or UX design for short. Native apps are traditionally superior in terms of performance and access to device attributes such as geo-location APIs (application programming interfaces), cameras, address books and accelerometers.
Second, there is the issue of billing. Web apps or touch-ready mobile sites typically offer greater billing options and allow for open distribution, independent of third-party vendors such as carriers or OEM (original equipment manufacturer) app stores.
Next is reach. While mobile app stores are said to attract more active users, web apps allow publishers and service providers to serve all smartphone audiences without the compatibility issues that you see with native app distribution.
Fourth, there is the consideration of ROI (return on investment). The costs of development and updates are generally higher for native apps, but native app stores are said to generate higher returns thanks to the benefits of larger consumer bases and integrated billing for instance.
Fifth, there is the speed in “go-to-market”. Web apps are often quicker to deploy, particularly as they are not subject to distributor approvals that can take from weeks to months of evaluation and QA (quality assurance).
Sixth, there is the issue of discoverability. With an influx of new applications into proprietary app stores – there are over already 170,000 apps on Apple App Store and Android alone - it is increasingly hard to generalize whether visibility is higher over web or native interfaces.
Seventh, we need to look at user analytics. Web apps or web sites generally offer more direct, unfiltered access to user behavior data, which in turn enables product cross-selling and helps build customer loyalty.
What are the most surprising finds from the survey?
“Our results confirm that while native apps currently offer greater performance in user adoption, user engagement, and advertising CTRs, web apps typically offer cost advantages and quicker launch cycles.
What is particularly interesting is that web apps tend to generate greater usage stickiness over time, as 33% of publishers with web applications see steady usage growth as compared to only 22% of native app publishers."
What does the white paper talk about?
“Given the importance of choosing the right application interface, we offer some guidelines for mobile marketers, publishers and service providers, based on the collective experience from current practitioners.
Our white paper also compares the future outlook for web-based verses native applications, and their wide-ranging implications beyond mobile services into general consumer electronics such as tablet computers and connected televisions.”
Looking ahead, what are some of your predictions for mobile applications?
“We think HTML5 will have a major impact on the move toward web-based solutions - particularly through the release of browser API’s that offer access to device capabilities such as accelerometers, GPSs (Global Positioning Systems) and cameras.
This process may still take some time but many web apps are already now available in offline mode. Complemented by the fact that native applications are becoming increasingly connected online, the difference between native and web applications will gradually blur in terms of end user experience in the future. The real division lies in application development and distribution.”
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