So the revolution is almost complete. Much like the rapid globalisation of the fast food industry, in the span of just five years since apps first appeared you can now find them on every virtual street corner. For reasons that include client engagement, connectivity and mindshare — or other marketing buzz words —apps are the new black.
Now with the release of Windows 8 the app marketplace has fragmented almost to breaking point.
There is nothing wrong with this in itself. I for one am amazed that Apple was able to get consumers to pay en masse for access to certain areas of the internet for the first time. The question is: Is there a way that you can take advantage of these devices without having to employ a developer who has iOS, Android and Windows skills to make sure that your clients can connect with you on every platform?
The answer is yes, well sort of. Apps provide the benefits of being contained in a searchable store, with user ratings and they are usually able to be upgraded easily. But those app stores are becoming over inflated, filling up with some pointless, low quality apps or worse, opportunistic malware.
Now that both Android and Microsoft have joined the games there are also technical barriers to developing across multiple platforms. But there is a tool that allows you to make sure your clients' information is available from all modern platforms, able to be controlled and supported by all players.
I am talking about the humble browser and HTML5. While it is not yet an official standard, HTML5 has qualities that no other platform can claim: it is device agnostic and you can create your site to take advantage of all different screen sizes. As the screen size fragmentation of devices like the iPad can drastically affect the presentation of your app, wouldn’t it be better to keep control of one website rather than multiple apps?
In my years of working in software development there has been a cycle; starting with silos of information being kept in databases, moving to integrated platforms and then back to silos of apps. If history is anything to go by and oddly enough, in the past history has proved that it is, we are now due for another disruptive technology to come in and shake things up again. It is time to help your customers to focus their efforts on investments that will reach their entire customer/partner base without limitation.
I am not the first to weigh in on this topic and many people smarter than me have voiced their own opinions. A quick search of the internet will show comment boards full of long monologues around the benefits of HTML5 versus native apps. Interestingly, when the iPhone was originally developed Apple was on the side of web app development but its app store is now a significant percentage of its cashflow. Microsoft with its new Windows 8 UI allows you to pin web pages as tiles to eliminate the need for an app store and I would hope that the other platforms in their own way follow suit.
So once this revolution is complete it’s gone, done and onto the next one. That’s how the world keeps moving, as we enter a new era of device formats for every situation, the single platform they will have in common is the browser, whether it’s your iPad, PC, Xbox or Android. These are all tools for communicating so let’s go out and build some ways for us to all communicate. It’s a marriage between people and technology and any therapist will tell you communication is the best way to keep a marriage together.