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wer braucht Apps?

Warum Apps völlig überholt sind.

Ich habe schon lang die Ansicht vertreten, dass Apps sinnlos sind. Damit bin ich aber ziemlich alleine.

Dabei bieten Webapps, oder PWA’s, mittlerweile fast dieselbe Funktionalitäten wie „native“ Apps. Und das zu einem wesentlich günstigeren Preis. Vermutlich weis das immer noch niemand.

Die „native Apps“ haben viel zu viele Hürden zu überwinden:

  • es wird nur einmal Code geschrieben, nicht zwei, drei mal.
  • Webapps bedienen auch diverse Tablets und sogar PC’s
  • im Appstore kassiert Apple und Google heftig mit.
  • viele haben keinen Zugang zum Appstore
  • so eine App kann mit einer simplen SMS verteilt werden.

Bis eine App aus dem Store geladen werden kann, sind 6 und mehr klicks nötig. Aus Untersuchungen weis man, dass dies schon 50% der Interessenten abschreckt. Es ist einfach sehr viel umständlicher, eine App zu installieren, als eine Webapp zu nutzen.

Eine fortschrittliche Webapp braucht nur einen einzigen Link und zu funktionieren. Es kann ein Hinweis angezeigt werden, am Homescreen zu installieren – alles funktioniert dann wie bei einer App, aber eben sofort, ohne Appstore und ohne Login und Passwort.

Natürlich können Webbapps nicht genau dasselbe wie Native Apps, aber man muss bedenken, was von den vielen Funktionen tatsächlich benötigt wird.

Um Benutzer zur Installation echter Apps zu bringen, ist viel Werbung nötig; um diese Benutzer auch noch dazu zu bringen, diese App zu verwenden, noch mehr. Und wenn sie den potentiellen Nutzer in den Appstore senden, sieht er gleich, welche anderen Möglichkeiten er noch hat. Dann ist es aus mit einer impulsentscheidung.

  • 60% aller Apps im Google Appstor wurden nier heruntergeladen.
  • Der durchschnittliche Appstor User ladet weniger als 3 Apps im Monat. Und die Hälfte aller User ladet NIE eine App.
  • Die benutzer werken die meiste Zeit mit Apps, aber eben nur mit den Apps der ganz wenige Top-Anbieter, wie Facebook, Google, Twitter.
  • Diemeisten Nutzer, die eine App installieren, verwenden sie nie.
  • Den wirklichen Gewinn machen die Apps mit In-App-Käufen, den teure Apps werden kaum geladen, da kaum eine Probier- und Rückgabemöglichkeit besteht. In-App wird gekauft, hier weis man schon was man möchte, aber das könne sie auch mit einer Webapp realisieren. Und ohne 30% abzugeben.
  • while, more than half of all web traffic comes from mobile. In other words, instead of downloading your app, users are using top apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat or browsing the web.

You may be thinking that PWAs are a non-starter until iOS starts to support the manifest standard and service workers, but I have news for you:

  1. You can achieve PWA-like behavior with Apple’s proprietary meta tags.
  2. There is a service worker polyfill for Cordova that will allow you to build a hybrid app for iOS, so you can get the PWA benefits without sacrificing an app presence on iOS.

Even Without iOS, PWA Wins

iOS has 45% of the US smartphone market, and iOS users spend $1.08 per user per app per user vs $.43 on Android, so obviously, write an iOS app and you’ll come out ahead, right?

Not exactly. Android has 86% global market share. When you factor in the fact that native app install friction blocks 74% of your potential customers before they ever see your app, those iOS revenue per user numbers start to lose their shine.

Factoring in global market share, and the number of users you’ll lose to the install process on iOS, even if your PWA did not work on iOS (and it can, see above), chances are you’ll still earn 1.5x more from the PWA than you would from the same app on iOS.

Who’s Using Progressive Web Apps?

Google has been collecting PWA case studies and the results are pretty impressive.

Alibaba is the global leader in B2B trade. Recently, they upgraded to a PWA:

  • 76% more web conversions
  • 30% more monthly active users on Android, 14% more on iOS
  • 4X higher interaction rate from Add to Homescreen is one of the leading real estate platforms in India. After implementing their PWA:

  • 38% more conversions
  • 40% lower bounce rate
  • 10% longer average session
  • 30% faster page load

The Weather Channel launched a new PWA in 178 countries:

  • 80% improvement in load time
  • Added push notifications for mobile web users
  • Within 3 months, almost 1 million people opted in to push notifications


With a significantly larger investment, and a significantly lower return on investment, native apps just don’t make a lot of sense unless your app absolutely requires native capabilities that are not yet supported on the mobile web.

Building an app is expensive. You’re looking at a minimum $100k commitment to build a proper app (usually a lot more). If you want to cover the gamut with native apps, you can multiply that number almost by 3. And then you may have to battle to get your app in the app store and keep it there. Can you really afford to take that risk?

Progressive web apps are just beginning to gain traction, but the results so far have been encouraging.

Want to see how easy it is to get started on your new progressive web app? Check out “Native Apps are Doomed”.

Want to step up your JavaScript game? If you’re not a member, you’re missing out.

Eric Elliott is the author of “Programming JavaScript Applications” (O’Reilly), and “Learn JavaScript with Eric Elliott”. He has contributed to software experiences for Adobe Systems, Zumba Fitness, The Wall Street Journal,ESPN, BBC, and top recording artists including Usher, Frank Ocean,Metallica, and many more.

He spends most of his time in the San Francisco Bay Area with the most beautiful woman in the world.

  • Go to the profile of Eric Elliott

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    Compassionate entrepreneur on a mission to end homelessness. #jshomes Javascript, tech education, electronic music, photography, film, viral apps.

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Conversation with Eric Elliott.

The author is focusing on revenue generation opportunities. Let me talk a bit about development costs (complexity, effort and duration).

My company was in a unique position to develop a native app along side the development of a Cordova hybrid app. Two teams were given the same specs and started on the same day. Both teams…

I have also been on (several) teams that were building the same app for both the web and mobile native deploys.

While I appreciate your detailed summary, it is an anecdote, and like all anecdotes, it is not evidence that you can apply the same experience generally.

Unfortunately React Native and similar technologies just aren’t there yet. The use cases you cover are for revenue generation and IMO, it doesn’t matter if you’re making a native or a non-native app, making revenue with the app/play stores is akin to playing the lottery, EVEN if you have a solid product.

Conversation with Eric Elliott.

Simple test of this theory:

  1. Look at your smartphone.
  2. Count the number of apps.
  3. Count the number of shortcuts to websites.
  4. Conclude from that what you will.

PWAs are brand new. Repeat this test in two years, if you can remember which are PWAs and which are native.

Conversation with Eric Elliott.

How do you solve the problem of discoverability though? Now, I’m not saying Google Play or the App Store are fantastic in terms of discoverability (Play is particularly horrible), but at least every mainstream user knows where to go if they’re looking for an app for a particular purpose. Web apps are very much on the fringe and anyone who opts to…

Did you even read the article? The whole point is that getting users to find, install, and use your app is a huge headache with native apps and the app stores. Acquiring users for PWAs is much, much, much easier.

App store discovery & install rates are abysmal. You might as well be playing the lottery. Go back and re-read…

Yes I read the whole article and that’s why I’m asking. I would ask you though if you’d read my whole comment, because you’re not speaking to the point I’m making.

My wife, my sister, my brother in law… they want an app, they fire up the app store of whichever device they’re using and search for it there. My son wants a game…

Searching the app store is not how most people discover apps. It’s how they install them after a friend or an ad or a website tells them about the app.

I’ve worked on several apps used by millions of people, and most of our converting installs came from our website, not random searches in the app store… and that’s for apps…

Thank you, Eric! I absolutely agree that there are no ways to build all platform-specific native apps especially by efforts of a small team. I have only 4 members of team and we have already faced a lot of problems that we have to solve: requirements management, planning, UX/UI designing, architecture, coding, testing, marketing and a lot more. There…

Conversation with Eric Elliott.

It takes about 6 clicks to install a native app

Does this assume an app that requires access to location, mic, file system, and a few other permissions? I just installed PlayerFM in 5 clicks, and I’m started counting from the home screen on Android

Did you forget searching for the app (typing + click) and the chance of failing to find the app on the search result page? That is a source of frustration for users. Which app is the one they’re looking for?

Let’s really be generous for the moment and consider the best case for native:

Great reply, and to be clear I agree that PWAs will likely, someday, be as capable if not more capable than natively installed apps. It’s exciting for sure. I don’t think they’re there yet, but it’s still early and there’s definitely reason to be optimistic about their future. And I’m sure that PWAs would be a great solution for many (most?) of the…

I think the native app install process is fairly buttery smooth for the most part

Maybe you can think of a better explanation for the abysmal app install conversion and activation rates for mobile apps mentioned in the original post?

Conversation with Eric Elliott.

Great article. Thanks for the stats. You emphasise on the cost to build and maintain 3 platforms. What are your views about React Native? Have you written anything about it?



I think React Native is a great option if you’re dead set on building a native app, simply because you can share more dev experience and tech across all the platforms than you can with Swift & Java & JavaScript in their own bubbles, but PWAs offer an even better solution to that problem (and you can use React if you like).

Conversation with Eric Elliott.

your numbers don’t translate to reality, because even for web an app is not meant for the whole world but just a small like tiny small subset. So for an app an addressable market, is not 2bn smartphone users, but just a tiny fraction of those who seek it’s functionality. Which is why native WINS

How do you figure? This is the same story whether you’re pushing a native app or a PWA…

Conversation with Eric Elliott.

I’m trying to figure out why it takes 6 clicks to install an app on the iPhone. I’m going to ignore opening the app store/browser and searching since a user has to do that regardless of native/PWA.

I find the app I want, touch install, touchId authenticate, and I’m done. From here I can also read reviews and possible find a…

I love how everybody who has a problem with the click count starts counting from the install button. I also love how you forget that after install, you still have to click again to open the app.

With PWAs, you don’t need to open the app store. You don’t need to search and hope you can find the app in the search result page…