There’s a Web App for that?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Matt HonanSomeone find me a DeLorean.  Two years ago I inexplicably renewed my cell phone contract without having an ounce of foresight.  Sure, the iPhone had just made its debut earlier that year—at a whopping $499—but I went ahead and purchased what anthropologist now refer to as a “flip phone,” instead.  These clam-like instruments were popular, apparently, around the turn of the century, as were “paperback” books and devices connected by “wire.”

Now, however, I’m ready to redeem myself.  With what now seems like clever scheming, my phone contract ended earlier this week just as Google released the Nexus One.

High Five!

Almost as exciting, I saw this video that promises Flash on the Nexus One, which got me thinking about the next wave of mobile devicing that I don’t plan on missing out on this time around.

Native Apps Vs. Web Apps

Thanks to the marketing folks at Apple, the term “App” brings to mind smart phones to just about everyone in the free world.   And this has become, fair or not, the benchmark for any new device trying to elbow its way into the market.

Sure, Palm Pre, you have an innovating WebOS, but how many apps do you have?

And for developers, the platform to create native applications on mobile devices is pretty sweet.  You can leverage device attributes, like the camera, and do a lot of things you can’t accomplish yet with a web app.  Even more compelling is the ease of monetization.  You develop an app.  You put it up on an app store.  You collect the money.

But as web browsers on mobile devices catch up, and things like Flash (running on the web) become available across more devices and platforms, we might very well see an explosion of web and cloud-based computing take hold on mobile devices just as we’ve seen on our desktop screens during this Web 2.0 era.  And Native applications, with its proprietary systems, may become less appealing for developers who’d rather maximize their efforts with interoperability.

For developers reading this, what are your feelings on phone applications?  Are your clients asking for iPhone/Android apps, or are they asking for mobile friendly websites?  If you’re primarily a web developer, how do you plan on entering the mobile market?  I’m curious about all of this, so let’s chat.

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