If you’ve been following the mobile software space, you will know that there has been more than enough material written about the “battle” between web & native for mobile apps and services. The issue has now reached the Federal government, in the form of a webinar I attended earlier today, organized by the GSA mobile.gov team. They set up a debate on the subject, with two presenters, from the departments of Homeland Security (pro-web) and Labor (pro-native), taking deliberately extreme positions on the advantages of one approach over the other.
I don’t understand why this subject needs to be presented as an either-or battle, but if that’s what it takes to get technical and non-technical people to realize the benefits of mobile engagement and explore the options, then it’s not such a bad thing. Any of these debates, like this one, goes through the advantages and disadvantages before reaching the inevitable conclusion “it depends”.
So I see this debate, then, as a fun way to reinforce the importance of mobile as a critical channel for citizens to access government services and information. After the “battle” was over, both presenters described their approaches to developing mobile solutions, stressing the need to understand users and their needs before diving into specific technology choices.
I admit that I have one small nit to pick with this debate, and with much of the other discussion of mobile apps & web. Both presenters talked about the “mobile web” as opposed to just “the web”. With the wide range of devices in the market, I think it’s increasingly clear that there is no mobile web. Follow that link (or this one) to see why, in a more direct and complete way than I can write here.