Originally published at: http://www.sitepoint.com/really-need-app/
First everybody wanted a website. Then along came Flash and so people wanted a Flash site. Then there was Facebook and that became the must-have thing to be a part of. Now everybody wants a mobile app. But do they really need one?
After all, creating a mobile app is not without its challenges.
I delve deeper into this topic in a Learnable screencast at the end of this article by taking a look at case studies where the decision to go native perhaps wasn’t the best.
The Problems with Going Native
With so many apps in the app store,
exposure is no reason to build an app.
When smartphone app stores first launched there was a land rush to fulfill consumer demand for native applications. In those early days there were some incredible opportunities. But those days are gone.
With well over 1 million apps in both the iTunes and Android stores, supply has exceeded demand.
Worse still, getting found is difficult in stores lacking sophisticated search functionality. Where once being on the App Store provided unprecedented exposure, and there are still some ways to improve your app marketplace ranking, today it is likely your app will be rarely seen.
Even if a user does see your app and downloads it, that does not guarantee they will keep it. With limited storage space users only keep so many apps on their device. They’re ruthless when it comes to deleting apps. Users tend to only keep apps that they are using on a regular basis.
The biggest problem with native applications is their cost. Unlike learning HTML and CSS, there is a high barrier to entry when it comes to developing native mobile apps. This means that hiring application developers is expensive compared to their web counterparts.
But the real cost comes in supporting many platforms and devices. Unlike the web you cannot build once and be sure that it will work everywhere. You cannot even use the same language to code across more than one platform.
It is not only expensive to build your application in the first place but also to maintain it over time. Every new device released could force you to update your app. Changes in the screen size, resolution and OS can lead to alterations in your application.
Despite that, there are occasions when the costs are worth it because the use case justifies it.