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I recently got a question from a colleague. The answer relates closely to the “Mobile Starting Line” panel we had at the recent DMS conference, and other market happenings.

See the thread below. As blogs are increasingly becoming a place to reproduce Quora threads, this is in the spirit of sharing one quick exchange, though in this case it’s verbatim from email.

There’s a lot more to it but it’s a basic look at where some of the biggest players sit and the development environments they’re pushing in what is becoming known as the “platform wars.”

But buried in here is a choice many smaller publishers and app developers face when vetting platforms. Continue the dialogue in the comments if this is helpful or if more questions arise.

Q: What mobile search apps does Google offer? Their recent press says they are focused on Web enabled sites and search and not apps.

A: Yes. That’s at the heart of the “apps vs. mobile Web” wars. Apple wants an app centric world because they get 30 percent of app sales. Google wants a mobile Web world because people rely more on search when they are in a Web context.

To answer your question, most of their apps are “Web apps,” which are basically an app wrapper around a mobile website (basically a glorified bookmark that looks like an app on your iPhone or Android home screen). That counts as mobile Web though — not an app.

Here’s more explanation.

On the sidelines is Facebook, which hasn’t thrown its weight around but it will. It’s on Google’s side and wants a mobile Web world. But it wants that for a slightly different reason than Google: It doesn’t want to be controlled by Apple’s app store approval process and rev share (see rumored project Spartan).

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