This debate of creating a web HTML5 app versus a native app created for and downloaded via dedicated app stores has been a much talked about debate in recent months. It’s clear that publishers and marketers want and need to be able to present and distribute their content to their readers and subscribers in the most beneficial way, but which route should they take?
Many joined this debate of native versus web app after Apple introduced new subscription rules, requiring publishers to handover 30% of revenue generated from their apps sold in the App store.
So would the publisher be better off in losing the 30% revenue cut but gaining a successful and well known distribution platform to take advantage of? Or would it be better for them to create web apps which can be distributed via their own website, viewed any browser and keep this 30% revenue cut?
One of the most publicised web app launches came from the Financial Times. This HTML5 web app was released in June last year. The FT HTML5 web app suited FT as their subscriber and reader data was significantly important to them. A native App distributed via the Apple App store only requires subscribers to opt-in whether to pass on data to the publisher. This data would contain valuable demographic information that publishers often rely on to sell advertising.
So how is the FT HTML5 web app performing? Just a few months after its launch, the FT web app was hailed a success, when it became more popular than its native iOS apps in just a few months.
The true answer as to which route is best for a publisher or marketer depends on their requirements, their publication and their audience. Are subscriptions an important revenue model? What data does the publisher need to extract to be able to sell advertising? Does the publisher have an ecommerce platform where the web app could be distributed? What platforms and devices do their audience use? And what level of interactivity offline is required?
It’s still early days in the debate and it will be interesting to see how publishers on both sides create the right version for their particular business model.
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