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18th November 2013

Part 2: The Mobile Revolution – What the enemy doesn’t want you to know

’4.6 billion people now have mobile devices. That’s 68% of the world’s population’*

Smartphone applications are in high demand, and the pressures on event organisers to provide content in formats that provide a clean user experience has never been so great. Marketing managers are aware of the need to invest in leading technologies but the cost of entry can be astronomical due to the number of operating systems that need to be covered.

When planning the development of an event app for the ever increasing number of platforms, organisers are faced with a simple choice. Invest heavily or get left behind.

Or are they?

This is where web apps can change the rules, provide a truly cross compatible alternative, and low cost answer. The enemy would have you believe differently, of course. Here’s what’s commonly ‘understood’ about web apps:

[Assumption] Web apps are just websites

[Fact] Mobile web apps are built for the very devices they will be used on. Taking advantage of the open source WebKit browser engine and advances in HTML5 empowers web apps to store data – including offline, provide an intuitive user experience, be interactive, use device features like location to it’s advantage and much more. These are not websites designed for desktop computers, but apps made for the devices they serve.

[Assumption] No offline capabilities

[Fact] Wrong. The leaps and bounds in web technology allow for the storing of data on the device allowing for offline versions of information, features and more to be stored. An absence of internet connectivity no longer needs to be a hindrance to the user experience.

[Assumption] No push notifications

[Fact] New emerging technologies backed by the leadership of the The World Wide Web Consortium allow for push messages sent through HTML5 WebSockets. Companies like Pusher.com are already providing a reliable, and cost effective method of serving such messages.

[Assumption] User interface is limited

[Fact] We’ve yet to discover any effect, or interface on a native iPhone or Android app that cannot be replicated in a web app environment. There are many emerging and long established web app frameworks providing the fancy experiences of swipe, drag to refresh, screen transitions, interactive forms and much more. Most of these frameworks are open source, and are cross compatible with most popular smartphone operating systems.

The landscape is changing, and as smartphone technology is becoming better and cheaper, so are the web apps. The native app hey-day was short lived, which is why the ‘experts’ are unlikely to offer up web apps as a comparable solution. But, given that the average event could save thousands on its marketing budget, it’s surely worth investigating more deeply than digging out that list of the UK’s top mobile app providers to get another three near-identical quotes.

[Sources]

* As at the beginning of 2010 (UN Telecommunications Agency, http://www.itu.int)’

http://answers.oreilly.com/topic/1846-7-myths-of-the-mobile-web/

http://www.webkit.org/

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/push_notifications_for_web_apps.php

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Mobile, Websites