While mobile apps dominate our relationships with our phones, many of them simply duplicate the functionality of another set of products: web pages.
There are a lot of reasons why we use apps on our phones and browsers on our computers. Some of them are technical. Slow networks and phones combined with limited user interface options made the app experience far superior to the best the mobile web could deliver. Business considerations also played a role. Once firms figured out they could get you to pay for apps, they wanted to make and sell apps, not build web pages. The consensus view is that these factors will hold and apps will remain the preferred method for accessing information online.
But there are some analysts who think that the mobile web will eventually overtake the app ecosystem, Amy Gahran reports, after the introduction of HTML5:
A recent report from Borrell Associates, Preparing for the App-pocalypse, says, "The improved power and platform-spanning convenience of HTML5 may relegate apps to the fringes of the [mobile] space."
This echoes what other mobile experts and analysts have been saying. In July, Impact Mobile President Gary Schwartz told Mobile Marketer: "Apps are moving to the super app: the mobile browser. It happened on the desktop from widgets to browser. Now we are seeing this in an accelerated fashion with mobile thanks to HTML5."
In that same article, Valhalla Partners principal Saj Cherian observed: "[Mobile] apps have proliferated primarily to address the shortcomings of device processing power and network bandwidth. As faster smartphones gain mass adoption, 4G networks are stood up, and more processing is done in the cloud, we will go back to the Web."