In today’s digital ecosystem, you have a variety of options when launching a new digital solution. Depending on the audience, goal of your service and budget, you’ll have to make decisions around which ‘wrapper’ to use: will it be a native application? A webapp? A chatbot on a messaging platform like Facebook Messenger? Or maybe you’ll go for a good old website.

Example of Mastercard chatbot, source: Newsroom Mastercard

Let me give you three reasons why (progressive) web apps and messaging apps will gain grounds over the next years to come – at expense of native apps:

  1. People run out space
    It’s true: people run out of memory on their phones. (Duplicate) Photos, video and other media take up loads of space and fill up smartphones enormously. This limits people in installing new or big apps and are more likely to delete an app after a one-time use if it didn’t exceed expectations. We use around 9 apps a day, not more than that.By using services built op messaging platform, such as Facebook Messenger, we don’t have to waste any valuable phone space as we can directly use services ‘in the cloud’. It might not happen yet, but just look at what WeChat has to offer: virtually anything a regular user needs.
  2. Progressive Web Apps are the shit
    Progressive web apps, or just ‘PWAs’ are a new kind of web apps that revolutionize the way we use web based services. Think about it as only having a clickable icon on your homescreen, but not actually having all the ‘app data’ on your phone. Rather, it’s stored in the cloud of the provider, thus saving your a lot space and data to install and use the app. Some examples of companies that use PWAs, include Tinder, Alibaba, The Weather Channel and Forbes (but there are many more to come, moreover so since Safari launched their service workers functionality).
  3. Unlimited data plans are still not the default
    In Mexico, 71% of people have a data plan with 5GB or less. Given that the size of apps are increasing – and have a current average of almost 40MB – you’ll think twice before downloading and installing a new app (when not on Wi-Fi). PWAs and chatbots require very little storage (PWA size is between 5-15% of native app, chatbots require not storage).

    Tinder’s app size reduction after using PWA.

So why wasn’t this possible before?
Mainly because the web limited us in using certain phone functionalities, such as your camera and microphone. However, web based services can do almost anything a native app is able to do, rendering that argument invalid. The web is getting advanced, up to the point that our homescreen is nothing more than a set of icons, with no real local data stored behind it.

“The web is getting advanced, up to the point that our homescreen is nothing more than a set of icons, with no real local data stored behind it.”

What does this mean for organizations?
Next time you’re launching a new digital service, carefully consider the technology behind it. For the first time it is possible to offer a full, rich digital experience without having to develop a native application. PWAs help save your customers time, data and local storage space when downloading and installing your new app. As such, lowering the entrance barrier to try out your service, potentially increasing engagement. Likewise, chatbots require even less energy to engage with, allowing users to directly interact with organizations, all within their favorite messaging app of choice.

What’s more – and something I haven’t touched upon in this article – is the fact that PWA and chatbot development support is strong (and growing), largely through efforts made by Google, Apple and Facebook, enabling developers to save time and efforts in building and updating digital services.