Just yesterday, I wrote about Facebook’s HTML 5 push that they were developing and why webapps offer some pretty compelling advantages to mobile users. And it’s significant to today’s two major webapp news. First let’s go back to 2007 when Apple introduced the iPhone for a moment.
On the original iPhone, there were very few apps outside of Apple’s own and certainly no app store. It was only when the jail-break community that got in on the action did we have dedicated apps. Then a year later, the app store took the mobile world by storm.
To make the story short, Apple to this day has tight control of the app store. And certainly, started enforcing a policy that require apps that sell services or content to remove the “buy” button or face giving Apple a 30% of the cut. So, companies what came naturally to protect their profits – innovate. Sometimes it works, sometimes, it doesn’t.
What does some companies do when restricted by Apple?
And it looks like Amazon and Vudu did just that. Not wanting to give Apple a 30% cut, Amazon released a browser-based Kindle app. Basically, think of this as the Kindle app you’ve come to know on the iPhone or iPad but works through your mobile Safari browser.
Amazon is not the first to do this. Financial Times, steadfast in its refusal to kowtow to Cupertino (city where Apple is headquartered), came out with an excellent HTML version of what their standalone app solution would have been like.
Obviously, we are still years from parity between the webapps and regular apps in terms of functions and UI. But I am very excited by what Amazon and others are moving towards. So far, the Kindle site works only on the iPad, not the iPhone. And I guess it work won’t on Android smartphones either (maybe someone can find out if it works on Xoom’s browser?).
The Kindle webapp does not yet offer feature-for-feature match with its standalone app. The regular app has periodicals while the webapp version does not. Nor are there highlighting or sharing. I am confident that things will improve rapidly.
The Vudu video site is what I’m most excited about. If Vudu can bring paid video streaming to the mobile devices, what is holding Hulu and Netflix back?
Here’s is what I know. The number of companies that offer services and media are going to love this. Apple started off with the webapps on the iPhone and it was happy with it for a year. Google, as far as I’m concerned, is the undisputable leader in HTML 5 development. Android users (and other mobile users probably) will benefit greatly from this. This is the future, folks.
It’s not to say that app stores as they exist today will go away. They’ll be around but they’ll have to share with webapp stores.
Source: Macworld, TIPB.