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Smartphones have quickly become our device of choice when it comes to accessing the internet and has introduced a whole new market for businesses to compete in with the growth of the mobile market showing no signs of slowing down.

What started out as a way to make the internet mobile friendly has turned into a specialised field. New disciplines have arrived to cater for this field, with mobile marketing, eCommerce, mobile apps and cross-device purchasing all becoming important for businesses to focus on.

Having A Mobile Presence

Remember ten years ago when experts were saying that having a website is important? Well, it still is but having a mobile presence is equally important, if not the most important since more and more traffic tends to come from these devices.

The current issue with mobile is we have not decided on an industry standard, and there are various options you can explore each with their pros and cons.

If you’re not aware of what these are, then I’ll quickly run through your current mobile options are:

  • Mobile site
  • Responsive design
  • Dynamic serving
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
  • Native app

Of these four options, the native app has probably been the most popular with millions of apps being published to both the Google and Apple app stores already.

Native apps have seen such a rise that now has its own search engine in app stores; its own set of analytics options in firebase, its own code bases and its own ad serving platforms.

It really has become an entity all on its own. With that being said, an App is not everyone’s best course of action. It’s costly to build, it adds another layer of complexity in getting consumers to download it, it needs to be maintained and updated along with your other assets, and finally, it needs to be marketed too.

This can quickly start to burn through cash, and there is no shortage of native app businesses that have gone up in flames pretty quickly.

So why do we continue to focus on and pump money into it? Because users know it is a superior experience and makes the most of the resources on the device. Native apps are also ideal for converting users on mobile and provide the best brand experience by far.

Until now, a hybrid solution has been circling the web for some time now. Available for Android devices and has recently been introduced on iOS, it's called the progressive web app.

What Are Progressive Web Apps?

PWA (Progressive Web Apps) is one of the most talked about technology shifts in the web and has gained unparalleled momentum among the practitioners in the IT world.

Progressive web apps are a hybrid of regular web pages (or websites) and a mobile application. This new application model attempts to combine the features offered by most modern browsers with the benefits of a native mobile experience.

The technology has been pushed forward by Google themselves, and we’ve now seen Apple adopt the technology into their Safari Browser and iOS as of update 11.3 which is a huge step forward for adoption.

Why Are Pwa’S Important

If you’ve ever had to do any sort of app marketing as I have, you will know that it is a myth that the users will happily download the app of every website they visit frequently. Don’t let the tech team and business development team tell you differently, yes we know the benefits, but who gets blamed for download numbers and user retention? Marketing of course.

I often feel it's unfair to blame marketing for the success or failure of an app with so many moving parts and refinements that go into having a successful mobile product.

Apps are not all the rage unless you’re a big enough brand. According to Comscore Mobile App Report, over 50% of America’s Smartphone users download Zero Apps a month.

Gone are the days when the phone is full of apps, and people-smart phone honeymoon phase is getting depleted. Each step to download an app reduces 20% of users.

PWA reduces the steps between the discovery of an app and getting it on the home screen and thereby eliminates the friction of visiting the app store to get an app installed. This provides a very fertile ground for businesses who missed the native app train or failed at the native app can now jump on to PWA.

Mobile Is Still Anyone’S Guess

PWAs are still in their infancy with a lot of challenges to be addressed before it can be rolled out for mainstream use. Another hurdle will be the previous outlay on current mobile options; businesses aren’t going to want to shift quickly after investing time and money in their mobile offering.

I’ve personally been following the development of PWA’s, and I’m pretty bullish on the concept. I think it offers a superior product, user experience and cost saving element that will see plenty of businesses move into mobile which may have previously been shy on the costs or halted development due to resource constraints.

While the ends user honestly won’t realise there’s much of a difference to user experience. While I can’t say that PWA will kill Native Apps in the future, I do feel it has the potential to create a shift in the way the mobile web works.

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We specialise in a range of services including mobile web development and augmented reality. iTouch is also one of the few messaging companies in Africa that abide by GDPR and POPI security standards. If you need assistance in building effective messaging solutions for your business, contact us to see how we can help.

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