It’s always an epic clash of biblical proportions in the mobile app developer
On one side, the staunch native app supporters like Galen Gruman are determined to establish the superiority of native apps by focusing on its enhanced functionality and performances. Hybrid app supporters, on the other hand, are highlighting the flexibility of web-based hybrid apps and pointing their fingers to the cons of the native apps.
Web app supporters are also jumping on the bandwagon with their guns blazing.
That’s quite a sight, we must say!
However, such kind of arguments and counter-arguments have availed just one thing so far, making the tech start-up CTOs, small entrepreneurs and app developers confused enough.
Let’s try and remove confusion. This article is aimed to represent the scenario from an unbiased perspective, pull you out from the confusion and help you to make the right decision.
The pivotal marketing forces and their effect on app development:
Before we dive into the crux of this native app vs. web app vs. hybrid app triangle, you need to understand the major marketing forces; customer experience, release cycle impact, and available resources & other marketing factors. When you are planning to build a new app for your business or client, you should take account of such influential factors for determining most suitable option. Let’s proceed with each separately.
The mobile phone is a very personal device that literally stays with mobile users every minute. Whenever they require finding an answer, they turn to their mobiles. Thus users are completely dependent on their devices and they expect the apps to be responsive, familiar and fast.
Unfortunately, there is a gap between the expectation and reality. A global study on customer expectation and experience of mobile app by dynatrace.com has revealed 56% percent of all global mobile app users faced at least one major mobile app related problem.
The study also went one step further and came up with the following data.
[caption id="attachment_244" align="aligncenter" width="530"]
Mobile App Problem Break Down[/caption]
If you are still wondering to what extent bad experience could kill your app, allow me to represent another statistics revealed by the same study.
[caption id="attachment_245" align="aligncenter" width="588"]
Mobile App User Reaction[/caption]
Apparently, great customer experience can make or break the success of your apps. Customers really don’t care what kind of application you aspire to build but they do expect fluid, effortless user experience. If you fail to provide a great experience, you may get one chance but certainly not two.
Mobile web apps
Only perk of web apps, these don’t require data heavy updates and especially effective for building sparingly used applications.
Release cycle impact:
Most of the companies launch new apps for mainly two reasons; firstly to be on the same level with their competitors, secondly to implement a new business idea and get a grip over a new market. In both of the cases, time is a very important factor.
If you need to launch the application ASAP, you have to compromise user experience and performance to some extent. In that case, you can go for the hybrid application which offers somewhat good performance and user experience yet takes much less time to build.
But if you have six months or more, take the native app route without a second thought. Native apps are way ahead in user-experience, speed, performance and security. Moreover, mobile users usually prefer to use the mobile apps over mobile websites.
[caption id="attachment_246" align="aligncenter" width="567"]
Customer preference: app vs. mobile web[/caption]
If you already enough time and resources yet you want to develop a hybrid app, make sure less-than-the- best performance doesn’t hurt your mobile business strategy. James long, a senior web developer of Firefox developer ecosystem team has echoed the limitation of the hybrid app here:
“There’s no indication the DOM [document object model, the API used to pass information before the mobile interface and the server] will ever be fast enough, and if it does happen it’s light years away on mobile. I’ve seen no technical description of a truly plausible way to make it significantly faster.” Source.
Point is, how much you try, a hybrid app will always stay behind of native apps in performance. Added to that, you need to take care of the number of service requests and load balance requests as well.
Available resources and other marketing factors:
Available resources and promotional platform can affect you app development strategy significantly. On an average, the native applications require more time, resources and experienced developers. The customer demographic is also much targeted. If your company is new and have limited resources or maybe you just want to taste the water, native apps should be your second choice. Web-based apps or hybrid apps, on the other hand are quite affordable to build and take lesser time.
Another important marketing factor is app stores. You have to upload your native apps to the apps stores. The entire process is quite complex and expensive ($99, for example).Since native applications are platform specific; you need to follow the same procedure again in case you are toying with an idea of building the similar app for different platforms.
Web apps are much flexible in this regard. You don’t need to reach out to any platform or stick to their rules. If you have the proper channels to promote your web app, you can easily reach a much larger audience at ease. To be honest, though web apps perform less than the native apps, yet wider reach can compensate in some cases.
Another perk of web apps, you can drive search engine traffic to your web app which is not possible with native apps. If you managed to drive qualified visitors and provide them good user-experience with your web-apps, there is no way you can fail.
Hybrid apps remain in the middle ground. You can just modify native container part and import the rest for uploading your apps in different app stores.
How to choose the best side for you:
The hybrid, native and web app groups are literally engaging in a war. Guess what? It is your turn to take the right side and get your slice of the pie. If you are still confused, let’s just focus on how to pick and choose.
Native mobile application:
Choose native application if you have 6 months or more, enough resources and flawless user-experience is your first priority. These applications are platform based so target customer set is quite smaller than hybrid or web-apps. But people are simply more receptive to native applications because of superior performance, user experience and enhanced security. From a developer’s perspective, native applications are easy to integrate with native OS and hardware, hence easier to build a high-performance application. Simply put, it is the best choice available if you can afford it.
Hybrid mobile application:
The hybrid app is a great alternative to a native application if you don’t have enough time or resources. It can provide great user experience and performance as good. You can just modify the native code and take your app to multiple platform app stores and more app users. Moreover, since hybrid applications are distributed by app stores so your users really can’t tell the difference either. But one thing is certain. Your users will always expect the native app-like performance and flexibility from your hybrid app.
[caption id="attachment_247" align="alignnone" width="581"]
How Quickly should a Mobile App Launch?[/caption]
Despite having some serious disadvantages, web-based applications have their own places. These are much easier to develop and can be positioned before users through search engines. Web apps are best for services which your users don’t require to use your app very frequently (online keyword tool, for example). One of the examples of a successful web app is buzzsumo which has millions of users, mostly content marketers. Web apps also don’t require data heavy updates like native apps. Each time a user opens the browser, he/she view the updated version as changes are made on the server.
In conclusion, native app, hybrid app and web app ; each has its own pros and cons. Depending on your unique need , end goal and availability of resources you can choose any of them and do just fine while the three camps continue to fight with each other( hope not literally ).