The Web vs. native app from an app store debate has been raging lately. It’s nice to see an old-fashioned blog discussion, makes me nostalgic. So I just read an interesting post by Robert Scoble on the topic, and I have 3 quick reactions to it:
- The Web has one distinct advantage: an address that you control and that you can share with people in advertising. Social networks have not gotten that down yet. Twitter does a good job with @handles but Facebook and Google+ still suck. None of them let you control the destination anywhere nearly as nice as a Web site. Telling people to find your app in the App store is very roundabout. The URL still wins for ease of communication IMHO. www.mycompany.com all day.
- The Web is very much desktop-centric. Tablets do a nice job of making it accessible in a nice way, but make no mistake that the World Wide Web comes very much from a keyboard and mouse environment. The world is mobile now, and native apps provide a nicer user experience than the Web on mobile. This must be overcome if the Web is to have a chance.
- I don’t buy Scoble’s argument that the victory is already decided in favor of the app ecosystem. It is very much tilted in that direction right now, but that does not mean that it’s game over. Would I target the open Web today before a native app? No, because the path of least resistance right now for end users is to download and use an app, and my goal is to make money.
If the Web offers a better end user experience at some point I will drift in that direction, but it would require some OS changes on mobile devices. App stores provide revenue to device makers, so there is every incentive to sell apps and not push the Web. This is not something that can NEVER change, but there are some money problems and infrastructure problems that will need to be solved before the Web becomes as commercially viable as native apps. And when you figure that out, will you please go fix campaign finance reform? Please?