Each and every one of us is guilty of causing what will result in the death of the downloadable app. Millions of sales worldwide for apps such as Angry Birds, and high grossing apps for companies such as Zynga(who have 3 apps in the top 10 grossing after purchasing OMGPOP, the creators of DrawSomething), require users to purchase in-game paraphernalia, are all factors which blind us into not seeing this coming.
Angry Birds as an example, already has an in-browser edition of its most popular game. Facebook and Twitter, both have their own mobile sites which are identical mirrors of their downloadable apps. My point here, is that the technology doesn’t need to be in an app, and actually requires extra work to do so. Sooner or later the whole thing will crash, as more people uptake usage of online mobile versions.
The likely responses to this are that many games wont do this. It’s not practical. But, at the forefront of web development, and in upcoming standards, there are signs that browser creators are doing all they can to make the browser more friendly to games. Most importantly, allowing data to be stored for offline use. Already being used to certain extents with video. One of my favorite examples is Rawkets, a multi-player anonymous game. This could so easily have been an app, but was developed to showcase what can be done with recent web technologies – and is much better because of it.
With internal mobile memory being limited and apps taking up far too much room – this transition just makes sense. New mobiles like the HTC One series, have ditched the port for expandable memory, once your storage space is full – you need to uninstall apps. If a developers app doesn’t cut it, then its gone! Unless they provide a web-based app for the user…
If by this point, you really don’t believe me, then take a look at Jolicloud OS and the Chrome browser in particular. They offer apps (The chrome webstore and the latest Jolicloud apps). All of them web based. It wouldn’t take much for developers to scale things down and offer mobile versions. Mozilla themselves have been working on a whole OS built on HTML and utilising the cloud, gearing it towards games, the OS could even ship integrated with things like the Gamepad API, already seen in a Firefox nightly build.
So maybe they aren’t quite dead yet, but as the usage of mobile sites increases with time and developers start to take notice, people will expect to see a website they can visit. They will expect to be able to see all of the functionality from the app (arguably this is a must from a usability point of view anyway). But most likely, web based applications will be the first port of call.
Where do you think apps will go in the next two years?