Christopher Mims writing on why native mobile apps are a dead business:

As is often the case with Jobs, he was just a little too far ahead of the curve (think of the Newton, his first attempt to create an iPhone-like device) which led him to later reverse himself and create a native app store anyway.

The only problem is that Jobs had nothing to do with the Newton given that it was developed after he left the company. Here’s the history of the development.

Of course, none of these utopian ideals about a future in which all apps are liberated from device-specific stores and particular platforms mean anything unless developers can make money selling web apps.

Of course that means that consumers will have to get over their idea of: “the web is free.” That and of course web apps would have to find a way to offer the same if not better experience than native apps. Oh and then there are the relatively low data caps in place by mobile carriers that we would need to get around. Also the lack of ubiquitous wireless coverage. Also the battery issues associated with constant data connections. Oh and let’s not forget how to deal with redundancy if the web apps server was to go down. Then of course once we start talking about web servers we have to talk about user data security and privacy. Which then leads us to how that data is handled and what it stores — how and when and if a company should turn that information over to the government. That though will most likely need to be figured out by congress, so that should take only 5-10 years to get figured out, meanwhile no one has a clue how to treat that data.

But stripping browser chrome off of web apps seems like far less of a challenge than developing for an ever expanding array of devices. With web apps, developers could code once and be reasonably confident their app will work on any object — phone, tablet, laptop, etc. — with a standards-compliant browser. The implications for developer time and resources are profound.

Because of course here all mobile and desktop web browsers behave the same and consistently so then we would only need to develop for “the web” and not for each device or hundreds of screen sizes.1

Right, wrong, or other — native mobile apps are going to be around much longer than “a few years”.


  1. Yeah, right.