I want to come back to the topic of mobile apps vs. mobile browsers again. Earlier this year I posted PLM: Mobile-Optimized Sites vs. Mobile Apps, which presented some interesting numbers about US mobile apps vs. mobile web consumption. It demonstrated a clear growth of mobile apps usage vs. web. At the same time, I can see lots of focus and effort around HTML5 mobile browsers, which presents some promise towards seamless user experience between web apps and mobile apps. The following chart caught my attention few days ago – total time spent using mobile web vs. apps.
This picture made me think more about PLM Mobile App vs. Mobile Web dilemma again. There are there main points here.
1. User experience. We like browsers, since it can potentially provide a seamless user experience. It supposed to be unified for different platforms. However, in the case of mobile browsers, it is not always true. Mobile versions of web apps as well as mobile versions of websites are different and provide slightly different user experience. At the same time, native apps user experience is superior and this is a reason why many people decide towards the apps approach.
2. Too many apps. The increased amount of Mobile App, can introduce another problem – what app to chose? Even today, I can have a hard time to choose the right app. What will happen if tomorrow vendors introduce dozens of apps? Clearly, there is a danger here. However, this problem is not much different from the problem of having complicated product portfolio, and it is well known today.
3. Multiplatform development cost. Last but not least. The days when the development was done solely on Windows platform gone. The question of how to optimize the development for multiple platforms, including mobile platforms is important. However, users are clearly not interested in this topic. So, the last thing any vendor can do is to expose these problems to customers.
What is my conclusion? I think the question of “mobile app vs. mobile web” will continue to challenge PLM developers. I think, the right way to deal with this is to focus on user experience. No big news here. Platforms will continue to “rules the game”. Native apps can provide a better experience. To deliver it and keep the development cost low is a challenge most of vendors will continue to experience. Just my thoughts…