I was recently reading this post on why web apps are supposed to be better than native desktop apps. To be quite frank, I was a bit startled by the argumentation. From my perspective, there are a couple of advantages, web apps have over native apps and will ultimately succeed.
Native applications are suffering from their obvious lack in insights into user behavior. Tracking every click in an app is vital to understand what users are doing or to see what really makes your app so popular or successful. It prevents you from dealing with feature creep. With web apps you can do fantastic things like A/B tests to run different versions for a certain time to see how people’s behavior changes. Sure, you can’t do all the things with Google Docs, but then again what features of Word are 95% of the users really using–and does it really make sense to keep developing and maintaining all those features?
Only web apps can provide the convenience and the opportunity to truly provide mobility of your data. No matter if you are on your netbook somewhere on the road or like me right now, starting this blog post on your mobile phone, you might end up with different operating systems and hence different applications. Lucky you, if you have the same program on all your devices at hand. Switching, transferring, and sharing files between computers is such a tedious task that it seems natural that the next step is just to have the app itself in the cloud to modify them.
Maintainability: Programmers Rule
Like it or not, but programmers will drive this eco-system and provide the apps that are solving our most specific needs. The rise and speed of so many new languages and tools to provide new methods to create new web apps far outpaces those of traditional languages. And with very low learning curves, more and more people will be able to develop applications thus driving more and more innovation in this space and ultimately finding solutions to our daily problems.
The internet with its sheer size and growth will continue to be the ultimate, most liberal market place in the world and continue to drive more people to it. Browsers have become the one platform you will always be able to count on. Sure, there are differences between those available, but they present a much larger market to address and thus provide more and easier access to potentially new users and revenue.
Admittedly, there will still be areas web apps will take longer to penetrate. Graphics programs come to mind but who thought that after 10 years of the first Quake 3 we might see an implementation of a this game running in the browser?