Location Boosts Web Browser Appeal

Location Boosts Web Browser Appeal
Native Apps Challenged?
However, Bolstad accepts that developer attention remains – for now – firmly focused on native apps.

“I think we are at the stage right now where there is a lot of attention and buzz around native application development,” he said.

“It's still a fairly new phenomenon, with the iPhone and Apple's App Store, Google and a lot of device manufacturers such as Nokia and Samsung setting up app stores. They are trying to replicate what Apple did.”

Part of Apple's ability to attract developer interest goes beyond technical issues. Bolstad said the appeal of Apple's platform is that the whole infrastructure is set up.

“It's very straightforward to distribute an application because it's done through the App Store,” he said.

“Clearly Apple has been very successful with that model and it controls everything – the whole vertical stack there.

“There are number of others trying to replicate this and they are all trying to do exactly the same thing.”

But Bolstad said there are on-going efforts by the mobile operators to also do this on a browser-based application platform. This is largely through the Wholesale Application Community (WAC), a consortium consisting of all the mobile operators around the world.

“So I think we are at the stage now where there's a clear majority on native application development compared to the few on web application development,” he said. “There's a lot of interesting things happening in the mobile operator space right now so I expect that to change over time.”

Location Boosts Web Browser Appeal
Trend Towards Web
Bolstad said browser vendors are also constantly adding features to the browser platform in order to make it more capable in terms of what applications can be run.

He said it's a clear trend on the desktop side: “The bulk of software development these days is web-based.

“That's a very clear trend that we have seen for a number of years and I certainly expect that trend to spill over into mobile.”

Bolstad equated the state of the software business in mobile to where the desktop was 10 years ago. He said that over the last decade there has been a massive migration towards web-based and browser-based application development.

“We shall certainly see that on the mobile platforms as well. There are some clear advantages to developing a web application,” he said.

“There's a fairly high level of interoperability between the browsers and you should expect your application to work across a number of devices if you write a web application, as opposed to a native application where you have to start from scratch for each new platform.”

On a technical level, Bolstad said a lot of native apps could just as well have been implemented as websites.

He said another essential issue is that many native apps don't generate revenue for their developers. “It's a bit of a fad right now, the whole applications and app distribution model,” he said.

“But it's actually a very low percentage of the developers who make money from it.”

Bolstad said the business case is still unproven for the majority of developers. He said Apple has gone ahead and introduced a fairly restrictive (approvals) policy.

“That has pushed away a lot of developers who resent that and there are whole categories of apps that are not approved by Apple because of their policy.

“Clearly if you develop a website you don't have to ask anyone's approval.”


Wednesday, September 15th 2010
David Montgomery

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