Businesses need to think their mobile strategies through very carefully. What platform (or platforms) they use is a key decision. After all, few things are more important than being able to communicate with prospects and existing customers. Should the organization use a native app? A hybrid app? Both? Should they eschew apps entirely and stick to the mobile Web?
It’s important to understand the differences between the approaches. ValueCoders’ Arnab Sarkar, writing at iamwire, defines native and hybrid apps. A native app is uniquely coded for each platform: Objective-C or Swift is used for Apple iOS, he writes, and Java for Android. A hybrid app uses HTML5 to add cross-browser flexibility to native app features; this allows them to be used on any platform.
There certainly are a lot of choices. Sarkar compares the pros and cons of each. David Paul at DZone goes through a similar exercise. He broadens it and offers a comparison of mobile websites, hybrids and “local” native apps, presenting a list of pros and cons for each approach. The final verdict, at least in his opinion, is clear:
But from what we've seen, the debate is pretty much over. While HTML5 has made good progress within the past few years, and while app builders still cite HTML5 as their most-used mobile platform (understandably, given their generic ability units!), the market definitely dictates the selection of native mobile structures.
The topic of which approach is best is popular among developers. Perhaps, however, choosing one over the others is not the best approach. Dan Rowinski at ARC suggests that the key to mobile commerce is hitting all the channels, including desktops, the mobile Web and Android- and iOS-based native apps. The public uses what is most convenient for them in a particular situation, so choosing one over the other is not prudent:
…[T]he digital world has naturally coalesced into a funnel where the majority of people find a brand through the mobile Web … but spend most of their time in the mobile app.
Opening any potential avenue to communication with customers or prospects is a no-brainer. Indeed, optimizing contact should be the only consideration when considering whether to go with a mobile website, a native app, a hybrid app or any combination of approaches. The other alternative is a world in which customers want to reach the business – but can’t.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.