Web apps are growing up

Every week, there are new articles in the tech press describing how another company is turning to the web to deliver its content and brand across multiple platforms. The latest one I read, from the Guardian, describes how Bloomberg is devoting equal resources to web and native apps, looking to their mobile web site to deliver “content across every device.” The folks at CCS heard this same story from many developers at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

The technical advantages of web on mobile are clear, and the tools to deliver the tech keep getting better, as the latest news from Adobe and Sencha demonstrate. For app developers and even enterprises, there’s still a gap in the web application ecosystem when it comes to distribution, discovery, and payment. If you’re a consumer with a smart (or not-so-smart) phone, it’s still easier to download an app from an app store than to find and install a pure web application. It’s these “commercial” parts of the value chain that turn a development technology into an application ecosystem.

That’s why the recent announcements from Mozilla and Facebook at MWC, and AT&T earlier at CES, are exciting. Here is evidence that major mobile players are putting at least some effort into building out the business side of web on mobile, and starting to roll out solutions for app distribution (AT&T) and in-app payment (Facebook) for web apps.

I don’t think any of these will provide much competition for the App Store or Android Market (oops, I mean Google Play), but it’s a start. I’d like to hear what you think; are web apps really growing up into a “real” ecosystem? Does the web on mobile really need these app-like distribution and payment channels in order to succeed (whatever that means)?

Photo by mozillaeu from flickr

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