Native or Mobile Web App

Computer with codeShould you create a mobile web app or native mobile app? Or both? Each has advantages and disadvantages. Mobile Web Apps allow you to use the current web development tools and languages that you currently know. This makes them scalable, affordable and cross platform. However, people need to use a browser to access them. A native mobile app can take advantage of the features of the phone. You don’t need a browser to run them. In order to develop them, you must use the language and tools that the phone maker specifies. Most developers are taught DRY or Don’t Repeat Yourself. If you choose to make it native, you have to repeat yourself for every smart phone you want your app on.

Who wants to do that? In Making It A Mobile Web App, Kim Pimmel argues why you might want to choose a mobile web app over a native one.

Update Feb 3, 2011: 37 Signals launched Basecamp as a mobile web app and not native. They decided that native mobile apps requires too much specialization and they are “anti-specialization when it comes to development”.