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Are Mobile Apps Soon to be Obsolete?

14 December, 2018 Smartphones

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Source: Mobile apps via Facebook 


Mobile apps shot to popularity at an impressive rate during the early smartphone years around 2008, and it seemed that they would be around forever. Suddenly, users were able to click on the game or feature they wanted to use and have it instantly open and be ready in a matter of seconds. Apps were perfectly geared to the smaller mobile screen and were the ideal answer to the problem of having to painstakingly trying to view websites designed for desktop on the smaller screen.


Many businesses that didn't quickly get in on the app craze faded away, and those which did, flourished. But ten years on from the dramatic rise of apps, they could soon be about to decline. The advent of HTML5 means that apps aren't as essential as they once were, and they could easily become obsolete in the near future.


Record Low Number of Apps in App Store in 2017


Ever since the introduction of mobile apps and the opening of Apple's App Store in July 2008, the platform had never seen a decline in the number of apps available to consumers. That was until 2017, when Apple reported a drop in the number of apps available for the first time in the history of the marketplace. During 2017, the store shrank from 2.2 million apps at the start to 2.1 million by the end of the year. This doesn't sound like a considerable difference, but the fact that the platform had been growing each year up to that point makes it seem more relevant - and it is.


Granted, some of this decline is down to Apple deciding to scrap old apps which are no longer compatible with newer iPhones. But there are other factors in play. The internet has progressed at an astounding rate over the last ten years, and the web now a lot more advanced than it was when apps were first introduced. Businesses are now looking towards using other technology in their web design, along with progressive web apps. Native mobile apps as we know them now may no longer be as useful or essential as they once were. As seamlessly as apps first became an integral part of people's lives, they could soon disappear as swiftly.


Why are Apps on the Decline?



The main reason that apps could be on the decline is the emergence of HTML5, which is arguably the most efficient way of structuring and presenting content since the advent of the internet. With past versions of HTML, businesses needed to create completely different websites for desktop and mobile, while users of both also needed to install plugins for viewing certain content. This is why apps were used, because they made all this possible on mobile.


With HTML5, however, there are seamless transitions for websites between different platforms. Opening a company's website from a mobile or desktop screen provides the same, smooth experience. Because of this, businesses are realising that there is less of a need to create separate apps for mobile customers now. Because HTML5 is fairly new, some companies are choosing to continue running apps while also updating their websites with the new markup language. Amazon, LinkedIn and Box.net have already flocked to HTML5, while still offering apps for certain services. On the other hand, sites like The Guardian have kept their mobile apps, but also updated the website with HTML5 to allow mobile users to access it that way. For many, third-party mobile apps pose a problem, if they're using a company-owned phone, which is why companies like Wink Bingo are using browser-based mobile apps to circumvent this issue. Apps are likely to continue to exist while the transition is completed, but after that, there might not be much need for them in the way we know now. Instead, there is likely to be a move towards a newer, sleeker kind of app known as the progressive web app.


Is the Future Bleak for Apps? What do the Experts Say?



The emergence of HTML5 does make it seem like the future is bleak for apps, as a lot of the things that made them so popular in the first place are not unique to them anymore. Yet, it is still useful for mobile users to be able to see the various different games and services available to them on their home screens. Being able to click on the thing you want to use and have it open instantly will always be a popular method of using mobile. This is far superior to having a number of different tabs open on your mobile browser, for instance. John Watton, the marketing director at Adobe, has also insisted that good mobile apps are vital to boosting repeat visits. However, this can also be achieved with progressive web apps, which also have an icon on the mobile device's home screen.


In the US, the number of app installs since 2014 is down by 38 percent, while there has also been a 28 percent decrease in apps opened. These figures could suggest that users are less interested in apps, but also that companies are more focused on using newer methods such as HTML5. Experts believe that in the not so distant future, progressive web apps will take over the market and serve as a happy medium bridging traditional apps and websites. According to Andrew Gazdecki, the founder and CEO of Bizness Apps, progressive web apps are more efficient and functional than native apps. One of the highlights is that there is no need to sacrifice the convenience of a traditional app because all progressive web apps are available with a handy home screen icon.


Traditional mobile apps as we know them could well become obsolete in the next few years as more modern alternatives look to replace them. HTML5, along with progressive web apps, is likely to be the preferred options for businesses moving forwards over the next few years. From a consumer's point of view, the difference is unlikely to be too noticeable and the change will occur gradually.

 


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