Not dead yet

Every so often someone will confidently predict the imminent demise of the web. The leading cause of death at the moment is the closed ecosystem of the mobile app. I can see why certain companies might want to encourage this view. The curated app store keeps your customers contained and controlled and you can even make them agree to all sorts of intrusive terms and conditions.

Native apps can be good for users too, offering tight integration with the operating system, good performance, and local data storage. (Of course, that’s also true of desktop apps, or “software” as they used to be known.)

The web still has some unique advantages, the hyperlink being one of the most important. But really what makes the web different is the extremely low barrier to entry. Hosting is cheap, content management is essentially free, you don’t need anyone’s permission, and a website can be viewed on pretty much anything.

This is really important for small businesses. An app is much more expensive to develop, can only target a single operating system, and relies on people finding it and caring enough to install it. Would you install an app to check the opening times of a restaurant? Or to find the phone number of a local garage?

The web has always been a place to publish and its open, linked nature makes it uniquely good at this. I don’t think it’s going anywhere for a long time.