Some thoughts about mobile apps vs the mobile web

Long before the itunes app store there was a third party app market for mobile phones.

Ten years ago jamdat brought bowling, tetris and tiger woods golf to low cost mobile phones.

Then the Treo was born and palm os developers were able to bring those apps to a cellular phone.

But now we have an evolved different model for mobile apps and distribution.

The app store model.

There is no doubt the app store model provides tremendous value for the user (aggregation, reviews, discovery). The app store also gives developers distribution and an ability to monetization (advertising, pay per download or in app purchasing). In app purchasing is now delievering a highly scalable moentization system to mobile apps that isn’t easily available in a non app store world. Some iPhone apps are now doing over $0.05 per daily active user (DAU). And some developers have tens or hundreds of thousands of dAUs. That’s a big deal.

This in app purchasing system also gives developers a built on distribution network since apps can be promoted inside of other apps. It’s a new layer on top of a new layer.

But we know there are drawbacks to the app store model. The store belongs to someone else. It’s their rules , plain and simple.

So a number of developers and creators are hedging their bet. Many developers are porting their apps to android os. Many of them are also creating mobile web apps instead of native apps.

Consider the NYT iPhone app vs Techmeme’s new mobile interface for android and iPhone browsers.

Both are rich and compelling.

The nyt app can benefit from a number of monetization models. The techmeme’s mobile version benefits from the ability to innovate quickly and without a gatekeeper.

As the mobile browser gets better it will be interesting to see how this plays out. I’m guessing these browsers will support offline functionality that is beyond read only mode. And they will get a lot more.

It’s interesting to think about what mobile platforms and browsers will look like 5years from now.

One thing we can count on – it will be much different than today.

(pls excuse typos and lack of links. Wrote this quickly on my iPhone).