Thoughts on building mobile apps with web technologies

Ed Anuff —  September 3, 2010 — 3 Comments

A friend of mine recently showed me his Facebook iPad application that he’d built and which was selling quite well in the App Store.  Besides being a pretty cool app, one of the interesting things about it was that it had been written primarily in Javascript and HTML5, with a small amount of native code basically wrapping it in a UIWebView.  It seems like this is a recent but growing trend among iPhone developers, since it’s easier to write crash-free code in Javascript than in Objective-C, and the iPhone’s WebKit browser has a lot of mechanisms for supporting things like touch interactions, and there are a growing number of companies (Appcelerator, Sencha) and projects (JQTouch) trying to make this easier.  This is all good news, and if this trend continues, it means the number of mobile applications will continue to explode.  I’m a lot more skeptical about any of this making the App Store any less important, building apps was only ever half the battle…

11-free_as_in_paid.png
This joke never gets old

It all comes down to packaging and distribution, of course.  App stores never go away, even if they ultimately become, under the hood, a way to sell password-protected, pay-to-open, web bookmarks.  And that’s not a bad thing, because for all the headaches of dealing with opaque approval processes and such, at least they’ve figured out how people get paid.

3 responses to Thoughts on building mobile apps with web technologies

  1. I’ve been thinking about the packaging and distribution point you made a lot this week. Yesterday, it made me think of bottled water. It was pretty tough to sell water before people thought about putting it in a bottle. Now one of the more ubiquitous resources is being sold at a huge premium because of packaging and distribution.

  2. That’s a really good point, Matt. I was at a discussion once where Joi Ito was saying that “email was like air”, i.e. such a basic commodity that it was used by everyone, but paid for by no one. I wish I’d thought of your bottled water analogy at the time.

  3. I guess that means the next step is to build a time machine. Is that the project you’re using Cassandra for?

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