Apps vs. Mobile Web: Where to Develop Could Be a Function of ‘When’

Rewind to the year 2000. Virtually every TV ad featured both a URL and an AOL keyword. “Visit us online at weather.com or AOL KW: Weather.” The pundits said the AOL walled garden would come down. They were right. Will native apps suffer the same fate?

The AOL content world came into place because at the time the typical Web site experience was horrible. The content was lame, many Web sites looked like a Jackson Pollock painting, and they took forever to load. The Internet was commonly called the World Wide Wait. All those problems sound familiar? Just change the date to 2010, add the word mobile, and here we are.

AOL’s breakthrough was to make interactivity accessible to the average user. It did this by creating a walled garden of largely curated content, running on its own proprietary platform, Rainman. Rainman took content and allowed it to be downloaded one time, saved on your computer and have processes run locally instead of through your Internet connection. Much like native apps do today.

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