2015-04-27

Google, Chrome, Physical Web Project, The Future App-less Mobile Web

2nd UPDATE: Microsoft Predicts 1 Billion Windows 10 Devices in 3 Years - Bloomberg Business"... The company also said it will make it easier to turn websites into Windows applications, as well as older apps that use Microsoft’s .Net and Win32. For websites, users will be prompted for a short download, which will then let the website send notifications and e-commerce services. The site also can take advantage of Microsoft’s Cortana voice-activated digital assistant..."

UPDATE: Google Inc.’s Chrome Update Could Be a Game Changer for Android Devices (GOOG, GOOGL) (Motley Fool analysis): "... With the update, any company with a mobile website -- not just those with apps -- can deliver push notifications to mobile devices. That strategy tethers users to Google's ecosystem while blurring the lines between Android, mobile websites, and mobile apps. This complements Google's recent "mobile friendly" update, which downgrades sites not optimized for smaller smartphone screens. A recent TechCrunch study found that the update would impact over 40% of Fortune 500 company websites. On PCs, the update complements Google's plans to take over Windows systems remotely via Chrome. The Chrome browser can already be used to remotely access PCs via the Chrome Remote Desktop app for Android and iOS devices. Since Chrome bookmarks are automatically synchronized between PCs and Android devices, the update can allow websites to push notifications to both...." (read more at link above, emphasis added)
Background: The decline of the mobile web:"... Mobile is the future. What wins mobile, wins the Internet. Right now, apps are winning and the web is losing... The likely end state is the web becomes a niche product... Apps are heavily controlled by the dominant app stores owners, Apple and Google. Google and Apple control what apps are allowed to exist, how apps are built, what apps get promoted, and charge a 30% tax on revenues..."--Chris Dixon (April, 2014)
The early triumph of native apps over the mobile web may soon be reversed. In the past week Domain Mondo commented on Google's recent search changes rolling out in mobile: a) search algorithm preference for mobile-friendly web pages; and b) title only of websites in search results--deleting the domain name and TLD--the coup de grĂ¢ce ("death blow") for new gTLD domain names.

Now comes some good news for website publishers, developers, even domain name investors: Google has, finally, fully engaged and joined battle on the side of the free and open internet, a/k/a the mobile web on mobile devices, in the "good fight" against native apps. So, what's the problem with native apps?--
"From day one Google has hated apps. It grudgingly built them because the iPhone and the culture of smartphones forced the company to. Now with Chrome notifications
it has taken a very self-conscious step toward making apps less “essential.”... what we have today is a situation where users spend 60 percent of their digital media time with mobile devices (mostly smartphones) and almost 90 percent of that in apps. The mobile web has greater reach than most apps; but in terms of time spent it’s marginal ... This is where Google’s “Physical Web” and Chrome notifications come in. The Physical Web project has declared war on apps..."--Marketing Land (emphasis added)
To compound the problem with native apps, not only do they currently dominate mobile users' digital media time, but users spend most of that time with only a handful of apps--Top 25 Mobile Apps Dominated By The Largest Digital Media Brands - comScore, Inc: "The ranking of top apps is dominated by app constellations of some of the largest digital media brands; specifically, Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Amazon and eBay. These six brands account for 9 of the top 10 most used apps, 16 of the top 25, and 24 of the top 50." A survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found of all smartphone owners, 68% open only five or fewer apps at least once a week. In addition, studies show that most users do not  prefer apps--what they really want are fast, mobile-friendly websites!

Enter Google--
Chromium Blog: Reaching and re-engaging users on the mobile web: "One of the web’s superpowers is its low friction: a new site is always only a single tap away, allowing users to easily navigate through a rich diversity of experiences. The mobile web provides a great discovery experience for users and unparalleled reach for developers. Unfortunately, once users discover an experience they love, it is hard for them to build a meaningful relationship since websites lack the engaging capabilities developers have come to expect from mobile such as push notifications and home screen icons. As a result, developers have needed to decide between the engagement potential of a native app and the reach potential of a mobile website. Chrome 42 addresses this dilemma by allowing users to engage more deeply with the mobile web experiences that are important to them, by both opting in to receive push notifications directly from websites and easily adding regularly-visited high-quality sites to their home screen..."--Google (April 20, 2015, emphasis added)
The positive ramifications of Google's (as well as others) mobile web efforts, for domain name investors, website publishers, and developers, are self-evident. Native apps are dinosaurs and app stores for "downloading apps" will be defunct in just a few years. The idea of "downloading an app" will soon seem as quaint as the idea of downloading MP3 files instead of just listening to an online music stream. Yes, Google will lose its "cut" from app sales, but in turn, it sees much greater opportunity for serving ads on a fully functional app-less mobile web!

See also on Domain MondoHTML5, Mobile Web, Google, Apple, and Domain Names: "Is there any hope for the mobile web or are we doomed to a world of native apps on mobile devices? There is hope--the new OS is the browser ..."

and Audacity | Steve Jobs Looked Beyond Native Apps. And He Was Right.: "While a few years ahead of the technologies of the time, Jobs correctly touted the browser [i.e., the mobile web] as an important, if not the most important, application platform."

Interesting comment from 2014 Venture Beat article:
HTML5, jQuery, and CSS3? It's called "write once, run anywhere".... Writing a specific mobile app used to be the result of someone wanting to access device-specific hardware functions. But with the advent of things like navigator.geolocation the browser can access the native GPS hardware functions of a mobile device. Just as client-installed applications went by the way of the dodo bird for PCs, so shall they go for mobile. Nobody wants to support multiple versions of an application (ie. iOS app, Android app, mobile website, browser website). Devs will write once, and the application will render appropriately in the browser. Period. There is zero ROI justification to do anything else from a dev standpoint.

For further reference:
https://google.github.io/physical-web/
https://github.com/google/physical-web
http://blog.chromium.org/2015/03/chrome-42-beta-push-notifications_12.html
http://blog.chromium.org/2015/04/reaching-and-re-engaging-users-on.html
http://www.w3.org/TR/push-api/


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