Ah the eternal debate. Which is best, tech #1 or tech #2. VHS vs Betamax? There must be a champion and the other will disappear into folklore and ignominy. Which tech should you allocate time and resources too and which should you steer clear of.

When it comes down to the question of whether a Native App (in iOS or Android) is better or worse than a HTML5 mobile web page our professional view is simple.

The answer is BOTH.

In our view these are complementary channels for you to reach out to your potential audience. HTML5 is great for search, the Native App is great for creating a great user experiences – if done right.

Some people use Apps extensively, and like the dedicated channel being available on their device, others are less App savvy, or prefer to bookmark your website via their browser (although most ‘bookmark and forget’). In the search for information and content, web is the way to go. Value added services to clients and deeper influence on clients, native Apps win hands down. Here is our quick run down of the benefits of both channels and how having both covers all bases.

NATIVE APPS HTML5 WEB
Response Fast + reliable Slower + less reliable
Experience Fully immersive & user friendly (with correct UX) Speed issues can detract from the experience otherwise fully immersive
Development Development required for specific devices – i.e. iOS and Android developments will be required Built using HTML5, CSS and Javascript, development can be quick and the solution can work across platforms
Channel Dedicated captured ‘real estate’ on user’s smartphone Would need to be bookmarked.   Or will be reached via Search
Push Notification More engagement with your audience Not available   on mobile browsers
Downloadable Content Can be stored and viewed offline Has some offline capabilities, but is limited
Distribution App Stores Web URL / Search
Installation Space required No space required
Gamification Good for gamification strategies and engaging your customer Would require login – which can break the user flow
Advanced features Geo-location, Camera, Phonebook etc can be incorporated into the App Limited
Security High level of security Security tends to be secondary
Cost Can be more expensive as you are developing the Apps for iOS and for Android (and others) separately One solution fits all – however costs can add up as platform specific solutions are introduced

This analysis fails to examine ‘Hybrid Apps’ – which are essentially HTML5 apps in a Native wrapper… in our view this leads to the ‘Worst of Both Worlds’ – all the speed and latency issues of HTML5, with only some of the benefits.  Even ‘The Zuck’ himself concludes that using the hybrid model for Facebook’s Apps was his biggest mistake

And if you must choose only one…  you should examine the merits of both and make the call based on your own needs (and critically the needs of your users).

Good luck!

Mark