Apps Vs Web – Mobile Monday Manchester

By Paul Morris
I just got out of a Manchester Mobile Monday event on Apps Vs HTML5 websites hence thought I’d summarise some of the key arguments (well around 50% of the below was from the average session; the rest have come out of the recesses of my tiny mind)

Note: The session was set up as a discussion panel ‘battle’ hence why this post has been framed as one being against the other.

For HTML5/ Against Apps:

  • Whilst at present HTML5 sites are generally slower, have poorer functionality, UX and speed there is increasingly little in it hence watch out Apps as HTML5 is coming to get you!
  • HTML5 is not a mobile ‘thing’. It’s about making better websites full stop.
  • Web apps are constantly being updated without the need for downloading updates
  • Apps are generally more difficult to develop for and are generally more costly that there HTML5 brothers
  • HTML is a  more familiar programming language than App development languages
  • HTML5 sites are well suited to the casual browser who use your services infrequently and who would simply not download an app from you no matter how good it was
  • HTML5 web apps can still be installed as icons on your home screen across any phone and work across all mobile operating systems
  • No Apple or Google store approval required
  • …And you do not have to share a cut of your revenue with Apple or Google (30% to Apple or 20% to Google)
  • If companies such as Burberry, New York Times and Financial Times have seen the light then why haven’t you?!
  • Should we not be simply thinking more about Responsive design to aid all platforms?

For Apps/ Against HTML5:

  • Certain features e.g. augmented reality, 3d gaming and GPS utilisation can only be done via Apps.
  • Generally overall performance is still better (e.g. faster, security and better user interfaces) on Native apps.
  • A study by Kendo UI showed that developer interest in HTML5 has remained flat from September 2012 – January 2013. Some would say HTML5 development is flat lining!
  • Whilst all App features might not work, Apps work without an internet connection
  • There have been some high profile critics of HTML5 e.g. Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and LinkedIn
  • You can easily do push messaging via Apps
  • HTML5 has a distribution issue with no web ‘apps’ store
  • Rental Cars are trying to move their customer base to apps from their mobile site for several reasons…
  •  Apps = higher conversion rates
  •  More booking per visitor
  •  More repeat bookings
  •  You can do more, in terms of functionality (and in their case), with an App
  •  By getting your user base to use your App they are less likely to bleed out into the Search (see Google) environment and thus more likely to stay loyal
  • And the most powerful of all; Mobile consumers simply love native apps i.e. Native Apps define our phone. Many developers are having to develop hybrid apps (that are essentially HTML5 sites in a wrapper) as consumers have grown used to app stores.  Apps are like crack cocaine = it’s a hard habit to crack (note to self: I should have been a comedian).


There is no winner or right answer. If there was then in my opinion it would be Responsive design + Apps (Android + iOS in the most part).

If you build on IOS/ Android then Apple/ Google wins.

If you build HTML5 sites then Google (with a little bit of Apple) wins.

It’s stupid to even think of them being against one another.

Whilst hybrid development can bring issues (whilst the benefits of single code, time, cost and no need for specialist app development skills does not always materialise in the world of reality) the hybrid development methodology is now being adopted by many.

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