The Seamless Enterprise

Comprehensive news and discussion of enterprise communications and converged network solutions.

Blurring the Line Between Apps and the Web

on March 12, 2012 by Christopher Glenn

It seems clear that as webpages become more interactive, with asynchronous Java enabling more and more functionality, that the line between what is a mobile web page and what is an app is starting to blur. Facebook is apparently working on an initiative to blur the line even further. 

At the Mobile World Congress, Facebook CTO Bret Taylor shared that the social network was working with myriad manufacturers, carriers, and developers to help standardize mobile web development. Today, Facebook has 425 million monthly mobile users who access the service from at least 2,500 different makes and models of mobile devices. As  you can imagine, this makes development quite costly

As I look at all the apps on my EVO, I rarely use most of them. I'm not even sure what half of them are. That said, the most valuable apps are the ones that have complementary web sites.  My time tracking app, for example, automatically syncs every entry instantly to a web page.  While this feature ensures that I can access my time records even if I lose the phone, there are other advantages for apps to be web-based

I want to be able to use “my” apps on any device (even someone else’s). If an app and its data is only my phone, that doesn’t accomplish my objective of being productive anytime and anywhere. Ultimately, I think more and more apps will move away from being device-specific; they have to for the mobile paradigm to evolve. If you think about it, the “app” concept is kind of  like a client/server paradigm of the pre-cloud era. With cloud computing being a definite part of every application's future, then “apps” should eventually disappear in favor of a mobile, cloud-like paradigm

It’s hard to say how quickly all this will happen. Apple and Google are noticeably absent from Facebook’s initiative, but HTML5 seems like an enabler that has steam regardless of any coordinated efforts. As I see it, this is much like the English language—a number of coordinated efforts are made to catalogue and define what all the words mean, but at the end of the day, we will settle on a shared set of meanings for the most important words. The mobile web cannot thrive without a shared standard, and I think Facebook sees that today better than anyone.


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About the Author

Christopher Glenn explores emerging technologies to help companies create convergence strategies that bring together wireless and wireline communications. He has 25 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, with roles spanning strategic planning, business development, operations, engineering, sales, marketing, and finance. Christopher's career includes over 10 years with Sprint, most recently as General Manager of Converged Business Solutions, where he focused on the company's managed services portfolio, VoIP and IP telephony and mobile integration. He holds a BSB with distinction in general management and finance as well as an MBA with honors in corporate strategy and operations management from the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NetThink.

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