The Great Mobile Performance Debate
The Mobile Debate
When Does it Matter?
Although I’m sure the argument will continue for some time, this much is true right now: a significant performance gap exists between native mobile apps and mobile web apps. Accepting things as they are now allows us to ask a more productive question: What difference does performance make to the problem I’m trying to solve?
Performance is only one of a variety of ways of distinguishing between native and web apps. Each approach has its pros and cons. Web apps are cheaper to make and can be implemented once for a large number of platforms. This flexibility comes at the cost of performance. Native apps have significantly better performance. They cost more to develop and, if you want the app on iOS and Android, you have to develop it twice.
This is not a comprehensive list of pros and cons of each approach. It does, however, show that deciding on which approach to take has a bit more nuance than may be immediately apparent.
What Problem Are You Trying to Solve?
The approach you take to developing a mobile app will depend on your goal. In a world without budgets, the ideal would be to make native apps for everything. Unfortunately, cost matters. If it didn’t, everyone would be driving a Tesla Roadster.
For a small-to-medium sized company that needs to develop an internal mobile app that any employee can access with any device, does it make sense to develop native apps? Probably not. For a company developing a customer-facing mobile app for generating revenue, maybe native apps are the way to go. It can be a complex decision with a number of trade-offs, but performance will always be only one of many factors in making the decision.