Financial Times ditches mobile native app and turns to the web

The native mobile apps hype seems to be fading away fast. Now it's Financial Times that will drop native app support in favor of web applications: 

"Why did the FT decide to create an HTML5 web app?

(...) There are clear benefits.  Firstly, the HTML5 FT Web App means users can see new changes and features immediately. There is no extended release process through an app store and users are always on the latest version.

Secondly, developing multiple ‘native’ apps for various products is logistically and financially unmanageable. By having one core codebase, we can roll the FT app onto multiple platforms at once.

We believe that in many cases, native apps are simply a bridging solution while web technologies catch up and are able to provide the rich user experience demanded on new platforms. As these improve we expect to see more HTML5 apps and fewer native apps, but there is always likely to be a market for native apps for specific brands or when deeper integration with the hardware or super fast performance are required (games are the most obvious example)."

Steve Pinches, FT’s head of mobile in

So, what about your company? Are you already creating mobile web applications?

Interesting...Xero creates a mobile app for iPhone, Android, blackberry with HTML5+ via Sencha Touch and PhoneGap.
I like to think that as IT professionals we learn from our past - in this case the age of the 'fat client'  vs today's native mobile applicaitons.  Sure, the distribution model is a bit differerent in the native mobile app world but it still requires multiple versions of the application for different devices and some heavy lifting to keep every one up to date.  I think the Financial Times made a smart decision, they now control their application vs having the 'rules' dictated by others.  
I feel that writing native apps for mobile is a great way to lose a ton of money, unless you absolutely need access to the hardware. Truth is, there are too many platforms (and they are gaining and losing market share too quickly to keep up), and mobile app developers are very expensive right now. I've been telling folks to either go with mobile web instead, or a cross platform runtime like Appcelerator, or to put 95% of the logic in a Web service and have the front end strictly be a thin UI on top of that service.

It really depends on what the customer wants.

speed: native. webpages are still horrible slow on mobiles
special exposure: native because you get in the different appstores.

on the development costs, there are plenty of tools on the market to create 1 app, deploy on multiple platforms.
what you are stuck with are still the different screensizes, but that goes also for webpages.

Now, personally I am in favour of the web (but we seriously need a new protocol created from scratch, it's getting to bloated)
but there are lots of applications that simply have to be written natively :)

Our company has built a thin mobile client which is a native iOS mobile client app without any business logic at all. 

Basically when the mobile client app needs to get or process data it makes a request to our platform's web service, and the platform web service responses with the requested data. 100% of all business logic used by our mobile client app is consumed from the platform's web service API.

Why not just built a 100% html 5 mobile web app?

Well, firstly we wanted our apps to be distributed via Apple's AppStore, etc it makes sense for us to do this, as it allows users quickly discover, find and download our application. In addition to this we wanted the user to experience the same behaviour as using a native app, we want our app to be fast and performance like  a native app. (because it is a native app).

Even if we wanted to build our mobile app as a 100% html web app instead of building a thin client app, we couldn't, because we used a dashboard that can not be reproduced in HTML 5 (well without alot of hard work we just could not do this, and give the user experience the same native behaviour and perfornance as a native app)

So we decided to build a thin client native app and process all business logic via our platform's web service instead :)

By the way, all our agile platform web apps are thin client apps! (not just our mobile app).

HTML5 vs Native App



-Cross Platform solution

-Saves money (Easier to manage, maintain solution)

-No AppStore approval process, you maintain full control over your app.



-User experience: usability and performance.

-AppStore ecosystem is lost, you don't get marketing, distribution, consumer user base of the AppStore ecosystem. 

-Need to run in a web browser, unless you wrap your web app using PhoneGap or similar tools

-Unable to access hardware API, unless you wrap your web app using PhoneGap or similar tools.


Buttom line: if your app is a simple app that can be implemented in html and you dont need high performance or do not need to do anything fancy with the UI then build your app in HTML. But you need to think about how you will market your app without the AppStore ecosystem. Otherwise your next best choose would be to build a very thin mobile client and perform all your business logic via a web service.