At yesterdays SBRI briefing about the NITB Tourism Apps Competition, there was a brief discussion of the difference between “mobile apps” and “web apps”.
At some point in the future, web apps are possibly the best way to go. They allow a certain amount of write once-deploy almost anywhere, they are utterly buzzword compliant, combining the advantages of cloud deployment and software-as-a-service. They are the future.
So far, they’re not really the ‘present’.
I’ll lay it on the ground by saying that I have never seen a web app executed to the level of native software. And that I don’t think I will see that app within the next twelve months which puts it well outside the remit of this SBRI.
A tourism app needs to be able to work everywhere. This really means that the bulk of the data needs to be installed on-device and not relying on intermitted 3G services. This doesn’t mean it can’t utilise the network but considering the target market is remote tourism sites (where network availability is low) and foreign visitors (who will have to pay exorbitant data costs), network availability should not be relied upon. And at the moment, most web apps rely on the network heavily.
I’m not saying you cannot create and deploy a tourism focused web-app but in terms of media capabilities, you end up using cutting edge (and possibly bleeding edge) web frameworks. I’ve seen people writing apps in ‘HTML5’ back in 2008 – and yet we’re still saying that HTML5 has a ways to go for full deployment in 2010.
Some companies have invested heavily in the web app space and while I think this shows foresight, it’s not what this SBRI is about. I’m happy to be proved wrong on the ‘web apps are not ready for prime time’ if anyone can show me concrete examples.