There is something rotten in the world of mobile applications, which suffers from hyper-concentration: Google and Facebook monopolize the market. So, when you’re neither Google nor Facebook, how can you optimize your mobile communication? Progressive web apps (PWAs) might just be a (good) answer . Explanation.
What is happening with the mobile applications?
Hyper-concentration . This is how one could summarize the problem of mobile applications, at least in the United States. Last August, comScore, a media research firm, looked into the issue.
Of the 10 most popular apps in the United States, 8 belong to Facebook or Google .
Graph showing that the applications of Facebook (Messenger, Facebook, Instagram …) and Google (YouTube, Gmail …) represent the majority of the most popular mobile applications in the United States (August 2017).
Mobile applications are not dead, they “simply” suffer from an enormous concentration, which favors the duopoly of Facebook and Google .
To the detriment of other players? It would seem so: while Adobe has observed, in September 2017, a strong growth (+ 68%) in mobile web traffic since January 2015, the company has also observed a decrease in the consultation of mobile applications , both on the phone (-22%) and tablet (-50%) .
However, this drop in use does not affect apps from Google, Facebook and Amazon , the Recode newspaper said . Further confirmation of the hyper-concentration at work in the stores of mobile applications (iOS and Android).
In the United States, the use of mobile applications (on phones and tablets) has fallen sharply since 2016.
So it is not the mobile application format per se that is dying, but the mobile applications that do not belong to Google and Facebook … that is to say the vast majority.
According to a study conducted in December 2016, 92% of the time spent on the internet while on the move was… on mobile apps . 8% only on websites. Conclusion: as Clever age says very well , “apps won, yes… but not yours. “
What place, in this context, for all other content publishers? This is where progressive web applications come in.
What is a progressive web app (PWA)?
Progressive web apps are classic websites… adapted for mobile use . This adaptation goes further than “simply” responsive sites do, ie sites whose ergonomics adapt to mobile screens.
Concretely, PWAs have advantages that were previously reserved for mobile apps. For example, they can be used:
even without an internet connection (PWAs allow publishers to pre-download content, so that it is accessible when Internet users are viewing it);
by everyone , regardless of their web browser and device (phone, tablet, etc.). [Update: We are told that in reality, Apple’s browser Safari does not yet allow PWAs, but the movement is underway. Thanks to Jonathan Pansiot for this useful clarification!]
They combine these advantages with those usually reserved for websites:
the referencing by search engines (allowing to be visible on mobile despite the hyper-concentration of mobile apps described above);
of facilities sharing on social networks, emails, etc. the URL of each page being easily accessible, as on any website);
a good user experience (who can access the PGW via an icon on their phone, like mobile apps, but without first going through a download).
As well as other advantages very well explained on the Wikipedia page dedicated to progressive web apps .
Should we switch to progressive web apps?
A priori , yes. The advantages are indeed substantial (see above for the impatient ones who would have come so far without having read the rest). But that’s not all.
Switching from an app or a mobile site to a PWA generates another benefit, and not the least: you no longer have to worry about differentiated developments according to Android and iOS!
PWAs, let us remember, are in fact quite simply… websites … but which take the advantages of mobile applications. When your PWA site is up to date, you no longer need to worry about the different stores since your progressive web application adapts everywhere , whatever the browser, the OS and the device!