Thursday, October 20, 2011

In a remarkably short period of time, we have all become familiar with the words, “There’s an app for that.” But when it comes to building apps for our businesses, it can be difficult to know which kind of app will best suit your needs.

Diane Buzzeo, CEO and founder of Ability Commerce, discusses in the November issue of Website magazine, three parameters to consider when reviewing an app platform to deliver your message to the largest number of consumers. These considerations are accessibility, performance/features, and cost/profitability. The results of this analysis will help you determine whether to create a native or web-based app.

Native apps are those written specifically for the mobile platform, i.e. iPhone, Android or Blackberry. Some are still being written for Windows Mobile, but we’re not sure how long that will last. Web apps are made to run from the web on any platform using a web browser.

In regard to accessibility, live native apps are a much more functional tools, however, the user has to download each individually, and with three popular mobile operating systems, companies need to commission three different versions of the same app to grasp the largest available audience.

Web apps are more accessible, but at the cost of performance standards. This may be improving with new technology that will work with future devices to eliminate the need to continually update its mobile app for the three major mobile operating systems. The move to HTML 5 may also impact these apps in the future.

When determining performance/functionality needs, a native app is a much more suitable choice for complex or graphics-heavy content, but consider web apps a better choice for broad accessibility and searchability. Web technology may soon close the gap with native apps performance by offering video and animation features through the typical Web browser.

Cost is always a concern with any marketing tool and native apps are a larger investment. They are sold through a centralized location, such as the Apple Store or the Android Marketplace. The drawback to these markets is that they maintain ultimate control over the distribution of your content. Because Web apps are directly accessible via the Web, there is no need to download from a central location.

For a great list of comparative benefits to these two types of apps, visit Jason D. O’Grady’s blog on zdNet.

Although native apps seem to have the current market, it will be interesting to see what the new technology will make happen in the future of web apps.
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