Is the app era over? Some of us at SnapHop think so. Our CEO Wen Tian reflects on his motivations for founding SnapHop, noting that he and some friends wanted to promote a band on mobile devices. Their relatively modest goals for an app included:
- play mp3s
- play music videos
- show a band biography
- link with the band’s Facebook and Twitter
But it wasn’t just the $3000 price quote for an app with such features that turned them off of building one. “Frankly, we didn’t need an app for what we were trying to do,” Wen says, noting that some HTML5 based media players could support essentially the same functionality. So he built a prototype that became the inspiration for SnapHop’s multimedia mobile marketing campaigns–which are all web app, all the time.
The Case Against Apps
Though mobile apps seemed revolutionary for a while, more and more voices around the web are questioning the need for them. Points against mobile apps include the cost and complexity of building them to specifications of difference devices, as well as supporting them and analyzing their use. Mobile apps must also be downloaded (or even paid for) and updated by the consumer, a sometimes tedious task that can have the effect of removing the user from the intended experience path.
Web apps and mobile sites, on the other hand, are self-updating and easier to develop in accordance with standards that conform across devices. For those looking to get found, mobile sites are also more directly search-friendly–search may certainly bring up a mention of your app, but users still need to leave their search results to download and install it. The mobile site is hard to beat for ease of access and compatibility across devices. And although mobile sites may not have access to all phone features, they can still provide a comprehensive multimedia experience that meets consumer needs.
A Seamless Experience
The bottom line is that mobile apps can interrupt mobile experiences in a way that mobile sites and web apps do not. By enabling a seamless experience that’s consistent with how users expect mobile devices to behave, well-developed web apps have the potential to deliver information and entertainment in a more consumer-friendly way, without any limitations in terms of interactive functionality or multimedia content.