Mobile web app vs. native app

From Wapreview: Mobile Browser Based Applications

Two requirements need to be met before browser based technologies are capable being a general replacement for applications:
1. They need to be functional offline. The ability to edit a document can’t depend on the availability of a network signal.
2. There needs to be access to core phone features like the phone book, calendar, camera and location.

Those requirements are also valid when you are considering developing a mobile application and you are hesitating between developing a mobile web application or a native application. To which I would add two other points…
3. Needs of updating the application. Mobile web app are much more easily updatable. It takes much more time on a native application.
4. Portability on any device. When well done, a mobile web application can be accessible from the begining to almost any mobile device. Ain’t true for native app obviously.

To sum up… things to think about when developping a mobile web app. vs. a native app:

1. Offline feature.
2. Accessing core feature of the phone.
3. Ease of update.
4. Portability on any device

I’ll end with a quote from Cameron Moll on Twitter:

…and the more I’m convinced well-done mobile web apps pretty much negate the need for iPhone installed apps that do the same.


  1. pavan

    Hi Shall we call J2ME apps as Native Apps??

    I think those are On-Device-Platform-Independent Apps. I think so every one will agree to that.

    but I need clarification. thanks in advance.

  2. Josiah

    Why choose between native and web apps when you can easily have both? is a service that gives web apps a way to be sold in App Stores. It takes all the benefits of web apps (especially multi-platform) and adds many of the benefits of native apps (can be sold in App Stores, etc). All we need is the URL of the web app and we can put it in the iPhone App Store, Android Market, Palm Catalog (when it opens to general 3rd party apps) and desktop apps on Mac, Windows and Linux.

    Prices start at $149.

    Mobile web app authors maintain their own code and hosting – while being able to update their application without resubmitting the app to each store.

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  4. Bill French

    This is a great discussion thread concerning native vs web apps for mobile computing. Regardless of your viewpoint, I think we all agree that business and technical requirements are most important in setting a native vs web app strategy.

    I created a dynamic spreadsheet to help marketing and technical teams consider the options in the context of a given project –