I recently wrote an article called “Native Apps are Doomed.” I was surprised at how many people were defending native apps. In all honesty, the user experience story for native apps has never been impressive. The numbers paint a bleak picture for native app success rates that teams need to be aware of when they make important decisions about how to build a new app.
Native apps face two gigantic hurdles trying to compete with Progressive Web Apps (PWAs):
With a progressive web app, you visit a URL and immediately get to try the app. If you continue to use it, you get prompted to install it to your home screen with one click. From that point on, it behaves like a native app. It can work offline, take photos, use WebGL for 3D games, access the GPU for hardware accelerated processing, record audio, etc… The web platform has grown up. It’s time to take it seriously. See “10 Must See Web Apps & Games” for examples of what the web can do.
If you doubt the impact that progressive web apps can have, you’re not paying attention to the way that native apps are being used (or the more common case, not used) in the market today.
It’s very expensive to acquire users for mobile apps, and even more expensive to acquire active users. Throw in the fact that app stores charge a revenue split for the privilege, and you begin to see why only a tiny fraction of native apps ever gain any traction, let alone recoup their development and marketing costs.
Why Native Apps are a Gamble
You may be thinking that PWAs are a non-starter until iOS starts to support the manifest standard and service workers, but I have news for you:
Not exactly. Android has 86% global market share. When you factor in the fact that native app install friction blocks 74% of your potential customers before they ever see your app, those iOS revenue per user numbers start to lose their shine.
Factoring in global market share, and the number of users you’ll lose to the install process on iOS, even if your PWA did not work on iOS (and it can, see above), chances are you’ll still earn 1.5x more from the PWA than you would from the same app on iOS.
Who’s Using Progressive Web Apps?Google has been collecting PWA case studies and the results are pretty impressive.
Alibaba is the global leader in B2B trade. Recently, they upgraded to a PWA:
Building an app is expensive. You’re looking at a minimum $100k commitment to build a proper app (usually a lot more). If you want to cover the gamut with native apps, you can multiply that number almost by 3. And then you may have to battle to get your app in the app store and keep it there. Can you really afford to take that risk?
Progressive web apps are just beginning to gain traction, but the results so far have been encouraging.
Want to see how easy it is to get started on your new progressive web app? Check out “Native Apps are Doomed”.
He spends most of his time in the San Francisco Bay Area with the most beautiful woman in the world.