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IPad release fuels mobile debate over Web vs. apps

Posted by TeamITI on April 8, 2010

The launch of the iPad last week fueled the growing debate over the “closed” app store economy vs. the “open” qualities of the desktop and mobile Web. The argument has broad public implications for journalism and consumers.

In the app store model, like Apple’s iTunes, programs are written to proprietary standards, subject to potentially arbitrary content and quality standards, and sold through a single portal typically for a single device or operating system. In the open Web model, content is presented in a standard language, like HTML, and is available to anyone with an Internet connection and a standard Web browser, regardless of their hardware or operating system.

As a publisher, the decision to go with an app or a mobile site can be a difficult one, depending on your overall mobile strategy and audience.

John Arnold at Entrepreneur advises businesses to consider three factors:

  • Does your product have mass market or niche appeal?
  • What is your desired user experience?
  • How much do you plan to spend on development and support costs?

Arnold summarizes: “If you’re just beginning to create your mobile marketing footprint, most experts agree that it’s better to start with a mobile Web site. That’s because well-designed mobile sites can easily be turned into apps later. If you just have to reach iPhone users, find a programmer with a good reputation, multiple deployments and good ratings from users.”

That is similar to the advice given by Poynter Technology Fellow Dave Stanton last month. While agreeing that mobile apps can provide high quality experiences, Stanton wonders if the development and support costs are worth it. He suggests a third solution. “Use the people and skills within the newsroom to build Web apps that mimic the look and functionality of native applications. It depends on the platform, but you can deliver a experience comparable to native code by using a Web app paradigm and relying on HTML, CSS and JavaScript for the front end.”

This article is published by Poynter Online, read the original article here.

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