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Native vs. Web vs. Hybrid: Mobile Development Choices


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The iPhone App Store has captured the imagination of entrepreneurs everywhere. There is a gold rush happening.

This presentation explains why we chose not to become full time cocoa developers, the challenges people are currently facing in the iPhone App Store, and the long term picture for mobile web applications.

It also describes an interim strategy of building hybrid applications using web technology so that you can use a common code base and publish your application to the various application stores for iPhone, Android, Blackberrry, etc.

Originally presented at Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.

Published in: Business, Technology

Native vs. Web vs. Hybrid: Mobile Development Choices

  1. Native vs Web vs Hybrid Mobile Development Choices Jason Grigsby @grigs on Twitter • •
  2. Early 2008
  3. “It’s about usage. Not units” • Number of queries on Google search from iPhones surpassed those from Symbian-based phones in the days after Christmas. Nokia’s Symbian-based phones are 40% of the market worldwide. • German iPhone users consume 30 times more data. • 95% of iPhone customers regularly surf the Internet. Data services revenue increased from $2.7 billion in 2005 to $6.9 billion in 2007. • Google sees 50 times the number of searches using the iPhone than any other mobile device. They were so surprised, they asked their engineers to check the logs to make sure it was correct. • This is why major companies, Google, Quicken, etc. are all launching iPhone-optimized services despite the iPhone’s 1% market share.
  4. Surprise Story of 2008 Flickr photo by Drift Words:
  5. Flickr photo by Civisi: Web 2.0 iPhone App Store Web-based Apps Native Apps Services & Mashups Few APIs between apps Software as Service No Recurring Revenue Cloud Computing Local Storage
  7. What makes the App Store successful? Carriers App Store Open to anyone Openness Closed, Seek permission who signs agreement Entry Cost Thousands of dollars $99 Revenue Split 60/40 to 50/50 70/30 Restrictions Many Few Releases Difficult, Timely 1 to 2 weeks Micropayments Inconsistent iTunes for every phone
  8. 30 million devices 25,000 apps 800 million downloads
  9. Gold Rush was On
  10. Ringtone Apps (FYI: Justin’s app is out soon. GymRat. $4.99)
  11. Ringtone Apps 15000 11250 7500 3750 0 0 1.99 3.99 5.99 7.99 9.99 11.99 13.99 15.99+
  12. Brutally Honest iPhone App Sales: $32k Spent vs. $535 Revenue Dapple
  13. Throwaway Apps
  14. Throwaway Apps
  15. Pinch Media’s Conclusions •Users stop using the average applications quickly. •Long-term audiences are generally 1% of total downloads •Paid apps retain users longer, but still steep drop o.
  16. Success Determined by Top Lists Features
  17. More Open ≠ No Gatekeeper 96% Approved (what about that 4%?)
  18. 10 Rejected Applications Obama Trampoline • MyShoe • I Am Poor • The South Park App • Pull My Finger • iBoobs • Slasher • Murderdome • Podcaster • Freedom Time • quot;Even though my personal political leanings are Democratic, I think this app will be offensive to roughly half our customers. What's the point?quot; — Steve Jobs
  19. iPhone Only Part of World Wide Market Symbian RIM Windows Mobile iPhone Linux Palm OS Other 20000 17949 15000 10000 7443 5000 4714 4079 3195 0 327 437 Q4 2008 Smartphone Sales — Thousands of Units
  20. 3.3 Billion Mobile phone for half the planet. Flickr photo by Pingnews:
  21. 3.3 Billion in Perspective Source:
  22. 2007 SMS Revenue: 100 billion Flickr photo by Vlastula:
  23. 2007 SMS Revenue: 100 billion •Box Office •DVD Sales Rentals Combined •Music Industry •Video Games Flickr photo by Vlastula:
  24. 200 billion for data services in 2008 (SMS accounts for 130B) •Box Office •DVD Sales Rentals Combined •Music Industry •Video Games Flickr photo by Vlastula:
  25. Symbian Windows Mobile Objective C WebOS C Dalvik Java ME Palm Visual Basic C++ .NET Compact BREW Flickr photo by André-Batista:
  26. Google Mobile — App Challenges • Pressure from CEO for rapid releases • 10+ platforms to support • Over 100 dierent builds •
  27. Fragmentation: This is what the web is supposed to solve. Flickr photo by .Hessam:
  28. Mobile Web Doubled in 2008 Jan 08 Jan 09 10821 Daily 22369 10312 Weekly 19283 36870 Ever in Month 63182 0 17500 35000 52500 70000 Unique Users (000s)
  29. Mobile Internet to Grow Despite Recession Average intended usage increase over the next 24 months U.S. Europe Current Users 58% 55% Non-Users 27% 28%
  30. Top Five Services Non-users Intend to Start Using in the Next 24 Months U.S. Europe Mobile Internet 49% 34% MMS 38% 39% Uploading Photos 34% 27% Software/app download 30% 30% Email 28% 32%
  31. Mobile Web Distribution Carriers App Store Mobile Web Closed, Seek Open to anyone Completely Open Openness permission who signs agreement Thousands of dollars $99 None Entry Cost 60/40 to 50/50 70/30 100% Revenue Split Many Few None Restrictions Difficult, Timely 1 to 2 weeks Instantaneous Releases Inconsistent iTunes for every phone Not yet Micropayments
  32. Ok Hot Shot, How are You Going to Create Super Monkey Ball with HTML?
  33. Ok Hot Shot, How are You Going to Create Super Monkey Ball with HTML? div id=”bridge” class=”rope” div id=”bubble” span id=”monkey sprite- replace” Monkey/span jquery-banana.js
  34. Ok Hot Shot, How are You Going to Create Super Monkey Ball with HTML? div id=”bridge” class=”rope” div id=”bubble” span id=”monkey sprite- replace” Monkey/span jquery-banana.js Some Applications Have to Be Native
  35. Five Common Reasons for Native Apps Performance Offline Mode Findability Device Attributes Monetization Flickr photo by John Wardell (Netinho):
  36. Not for all applications Good enough for many applications Javascript Performance improving Hardware Accelerated CSS Web developers must improve Flickr: Uploaded February 11, 2007 by hawridger
  37. Javascript Speed Wars
  38. Javascript Speed Wars
  39. Javascript Speed Wars
  40. Javascript Speed Wars
  41. Javascript Speed Wars
  42. We’ve Become Bandwidth Gluttons Since 2003: Page Size Tripled • Web of Objects Doubled •# Since 1995: Page Size: 22x • Web of Objects: 21x •# Source:
  43. Yahoo!’s 14 Performance Rules (Now 34!) 1. Make Fewer HTTP Requests 8. Make JavaScript and CSS External 2. Use a Content Delivery Network 9. Reduce DNS Lookups 3. Add an Expires Header 10.Minify JavaScript 4. Gzip Components 11.Avoid Redirects 5. Put Stylesheets at the Top 12.Remove Duplicate Scripts 6. Move Scripts to the Bottom 13.Configure ETags 7. Avoid CSS Expressions 14.Make AJAX Cacheable Source:
  44. Offline Support • HTML 5 • Client-side Database Storage API • Application Cache • Essentially SQLite in browser • Available on iPhone since 2.0 • Google Gears, Android, Nokia soon?
  45. 25,000 Apps Findability?
  46. “It all depends on the application, of course,” says Mauro Montanaro, [Fox Mobile CEO] “and whether they are paid or free.” But he also notes that the “discoverability” of iPhone apps is becoming a bigger problem, and that some of the marketing tactics that Fox Mobile has used successfully on other handsets just don’t work on the iPhone. “The question, as usual, is placement. Who determines [editorial placement]? Maybe someone out of Cupertino.”
  47. Geolocation API Camera Address Book Accelerometer
  48. Flickr photo by Lyza Gardner:
  49. Flickr photo by Thomas Purves:
  51. What Can You Do With PhoneGap?
  52. Phone Gap? Yes we can
  53. Mobile Progressive Enhancement [content]
  54. Mobile Progressive Enhancement [content] WURFL
  55. Mobile Progressive Enhancement [content] WURFL
  56. Mobile Progressive Enhancement [content] WURFL Phone Gap Add Functionality
  57. Mobile Progressive Enhancement [content] WURFL Phone Gap Add Functionality
  58. Keys to Successful Hybrid Apps •Make the experience feel like a native application •Take advantage of the enhanced features •Don’t simply release a hybrid version of the mobile web site •Optimize performance
  59. Flickr photo by MarkKelley:
  60. Thank You for Your Time! Work: • Blog: • Twitter: @grigs Mobile Concurrency Test: Flickr photo by Pingnews: