Mobile isn’t mobile

by Michael Scharnagl

This article has been updated the last time on February 13, 2012 and the given information may be not accurate anymore. Feel free to contact me on twitter to get more details.

Today on twitter the amazing Brad Frost wrote a great article, exactly speaking out what’s in my mind – “Native vs Web is total bullshit.

That’s absolutely true, because you can’t compare apples and oranges.

Poles apart

I surf the web with my mobile devices on a daily basis, often following some links from social networks or reading local/international news. What irritates me most, but unfortunately happens quite often is that news site offering some “fancy” iphone/ipad/whateverosordevice app but no mobile web experience at all. That makes me cry, because in my opinion their mobile strategy is just completely wrong. They spent lots of time and money to make an iphone app, just to find out a year later they have to build an ipad app, just to find out they need an android app, …. ending in an loop of building and rebuilding apps for whatever will come.

I can’t find any argument why news sites think apps are the way to go for their business. They loose customers like me, who doesn’t want to install an app for every damn site out there, loose money in advertising by accepting the share for “in-app” advertising, loose money for every new device/os combination they want to support in the future. To conclude it every business focusing on content will have a huge benefit buy building mobile first responsive websites. And If they can afford it, I don’t care if they still build additional native apps, to enhance the experience for power user.

Play with me

On the other hand there are also many use cases were a native app is the way to go, just think about games. Of course you could build a game with html5 as well, but this way you have to deal with way to much difficulties like offline usage, cpu performanece… To be honest I don’t know much about developing games but I think it’s much easier to build an app as building it with html5 and dealing with all the device/os disparities. Point.

Think future friendly

To sum it up, I have to say that it’s way to frustrating for me to surf on news site this days, just because they thought/think offering an app is the best mobile user experience they can afford. That’s also the reason why I often email to this sites complaining about and on the other hand demonstrating why they will love future friendly websites.

Furthermore I don’t convict anyone building an native app, but if your main focus is publishing content, you shouldn’t do it unless you ensured your website looks great on every screen size / device you can imagine.

What do you think?

Michael Scharnagl

Portrait Michael Scharnagl

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A freelance front-end developer focusing on HTML5, CSS, progressive enhancement and web performance.