Mobile Web Platforms – Ready to Rumble in 2008
Paul Kedrosky on the under-appreciation of mobile web platforms:
People just don’t get how good web apps on mobile can be. I get stuck in many conversations about native apps on mobile, which always strikes me as vestigial. The same way that I live in mostly browser-based apps on my desktop and laptop, I am convinced I will live in web apps on my mobile device. Pretending otherwise seems wrong-headed and self-defeating.
At MobileCamp Vancouver I pushed just this point on the industry panel. I’m not sure the other telco folks on the panel were convinced. But – what I found after the panel among the broader development community there, was intense interest in targeting mobiles through web-based runtimes – be they web sites, widgets, Adobe AIR, Google gears, etc.
There are really two issues to consider here.
- Are web runtimes capable of delivering the necessary functionality and experience equal to native runtimes? The answer is yes although not everybody gets this yet. See my post on Adobe AIR / Google gears like platform for iPhone for an argument in favor of mobile runtimes over native runtimes.
- Recognition of another under-appreciated benefit of mobile web runtimes – they drastically expand the world of people that can develop mobile applications. In this sense web runtimes are poised to play a role similar to that played by Visual Basic for desktop apps in the 90′s. To be clear – I am not comparing the two in technical terms, but in terms of “developer reach”. Undeniably (and to many developers’ deep regret) VB drove a huge developer population.