Technology for MW is improving to a degree that it will soon be undetectable to the user. Hint: Twitter MW is on the left, LinkedIn MW is on the right. How did you do?
Compare the difference of the location of the tool bars; how do they act when you touch them? Which one is faster? Do they have the same number of functions? Will they both allow you to upload a photo?
Boston Globe is another example of a website that has taken a hybrid approach, developing both MW and NA. Their website is very mobile-friendly, adapting screen size extremely well using HTML-5. One way to test this on your screen is to play with the size of your browser while engaging with BostonGlobe.com. The responsive design is quite deliberate and well done.
The big mistake is to force a traditional media strategy into the mobile environment. Companies need to realize that the world, and even the Web itself, have changed and continues to change quickly. One advantage of MW is that it has the potential to adapt quickly and with less impact on your budget. It is no longer the 2nd class citizen of mobile development and could overtake the NA, though Apple’s dominance should not be underestimated. Consumers love the one-stop-shopping in the App Store, where credit card numbers are stored in one place. They also like the one-click icons.
But if you ask, “What should Mobile Web be?” Soon, it can be whatever you want it to be. MW has as many advantages as Native Apps and should be equally considered. My opinion is that developing web apps with the idea of using Cordova to make them native is the most cost effective solution for a customer. It also delivers a good experience in both platforms.
Among the radical changes in the recent world is the impact of mobile devices on modern society. Quickly becoming the first screen of information for everyone, mobile apps are even being used by the electronically resistant senior population who has found convenient use of large-print apps and the ability to maintain closer contact with grandchildren. We have seen such a great shift in the past five years so that even the shortest elevator ride has people pulling out their phones to manage their lives. This poses opportunity, as well as, challenges for businesses trying to stay ahead of the pack.
Big business has been the first mover with custom mobile apps that segment services to their simplest form. With a few clicks on an iPhone, anyone can re-order medication, purchase movie tickets, or find their way using GPS technology. To the small businessman, mobile apps are still something to put-off developing because it adds to the development budget, and they resort to mobile friendly sites that only require one build. This means developing web apps with a width of less than 960 px and reducing the number of pages that display on mobile devices. A true mobile app requires additional development dollars, but is native to the mobile device, even using geo location sensors and maps.
There are also more challenges involved with mobile apps because, just as web applications must function in multiple browsers, mobile apps must also function in multiple mobile frameworks (iPhone, Android, etc.), adding to the burden and cost of development. For all the trouble, most small businesses throw in the towel applying their efforts in things they understand.
Developers should be paying attention because they can use their existing development team without the need to find or create mobile specialists. It also allows the ability to incorporate sensors, like geo location and cameras, which are native to the mobile environment.
Small business will love this because it simplifies their development strategy and gives them wider access to their customers. It makes mobile development affordable for everyone and could very well equalize the playing field between big and small business. For this reason, we are paying close attention to PhoneGap and hope to add it to our list of services very soon.