Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Return of the Mobile browser

We all love to make predictions and I made one to @shachinb and Steffen Harting when I met them in early 2014. 

Which was: Apps are  temporary phase (of indeterminate length), eventually most apps will switch back into the web browser. Only games and apps that require continuous access to phone sensors such as accelerometer,  GPS etc will remain as apps. For most other purposes a well designed mobile website is going to do a world of good.

So, when Forbes declared that  the mobile browser is dead and the mobile app is the new new thing, I retested my earlier hypothesis and came to the same conclusion. I.e. We are hung up on apps way more than required

Due to this hang up, we are sacrificing the mobile web experience.
It pleased me no end to see an old friend @jassim make this comment
Super impressed with the Twitter mobile web experience, replaces the app for me
This just goes to show it is possible to achieve what I stated as a hypothesis above.
One look at the NDTV mobile website and then compare to their mobile apps tells the tale of neglect.
If a relatively complex twitter app can achieve customer satisfaction to the point at which, a customer is ready to junk the app. Surely much simpler media applications can present a much better mobile website.

Consider the advantages:
Unified code base that just works. Regardless of underlying OS.
If a new OS comes along. Insert into a wrapper/container and you are ready to go.
I know of relatively large Internet companies who say our mobile focus is on Android and iPhone. Whereas the focus should be on a seamless mobile experience regardless of whether you use the app or the mobile website.

If the Twitter example is not good enough. Consider Facebook. Identically, their mobile website is as rich in UX as their mobile app.

In fact the early movers who paid OEMs for app pre-install's are now slowly moving away as they saw limited utility/adoption from that exercise.

Time to take a step back and reassess how we view mobile browsers and take the right sustainable development framework.