Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Mobile Technology

Mobile Applications = Short term; Websites = Long term

Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Mobile Technology

The advent of mobile applications – especially on the iPhone (which I’ll refer to for purposes of this blog) – has certainly been exciting for mobile users, app developers and the developers of the mobile devices themselves. Indeed, it is these apps which have really made the iPhone and the experience it delivers.

But what of the developers of traditional web sites and web applications? Do we have a role in all this?

The iPhone delivers a whole new segment of always-on, web-enabled services through which users can check stock prices, read the news and check horoscopes… except that the traditional websites and web pages developed by web developers are a slant part of this experience.

Users don’t rely on websites to deliver this exciting iPhone content and functionality. They’re relying on richer applications, the type us web developers don’t normally build.*

The iPhone is a growing, closed environment of C++ applications that seemingly make traditional websites and applications irrelevant in the mobile world. Applications are faster, richer and more suitable for the constraints of the small screen. Websites are slow, clunky and far less smooth.

Are we web developers doomed if the iPhone is the future of the web?

There are opinions both ways, though I say no. It is simply a matter of time and technology; nobody really wants 50 fragmented apps, it’s just that this offer a better alternative to websites and web pages that are not yet designed for mobile devices.

As web technologies improve (especially bandwidth and HTML5), applications will have no chance of keeping pace. There is of course an argument about how long this will take, though I reckon businesses that rely on HTML (Google anyone?) will drive this sooner than later. (For your notes, HTML 5 will not be formally ratified until 2020!)

The web will adapt and while apps are the best way to take advantage of the iPhone at this point, it is only a matter of time. Restricting users to siloed containers of content and functionality will seem silly when the web offers one portal and point of access.

There is a great article in Techcrunch this week that also argues no to the death of web development, though for different reasons than I do.

The article is here:

So, people will keep searching for you, they’ll keep accessing your website and you still need a web developer. The world is not about to back-flip and return to multiples of fragmented applications – we are on a slow, steady move to one screen, one browser, one cloud of content.

There might be a small blip on the iPhone for certain types of website and content, though we’re just starting alone the mobile road and the web has proven to be pretty resilient to challenges… its very underlying model is designed for it.

Go build a website today and be proud and future-proofed.

* Wiliam is a developer of both iPhone applications and optimised mobile websites (e.g. though for purposes of this blog, that isn’t so relevant).