The browser could kill the app store

Mobile first
By Martin Dower.

Amazon launch a new smartphone today, adding yet another proprietary eco-system to a world that needs them like a hole in the head.

In fact, no one really wants to be tied to single eco-system. Some folks like the idea of a curated environment such as Google’s Play or Apple’s iTunes Store but it should be exclusive.

The many-platformed mobile world is definitely hurting innovation and slowing progress rather than accelerating it. And they all take the lead from Apple, who have kind of stalled on the innovation front since the passing of Steve Jobs.

However, there is light on horizon and it’s coming from the oddest of directions. The browser may save us all. Almost all browsers behave the same with the same code, giving a single platform to build applications on. There are eco-systems available (such as ChromeStore from Google) for those craving a safe and curated place to go.

The browser also supports every web-site ever made (some Flash-examples excepted) since the beginning of time. Now, that’s handy. There’s even computers, tablets and smartphones starting to appear the base themselves on the browser (Google’s Chromebook and Firefox spring to mind).

You’ve probably noticed that the world is clamouring (albeit belatedly) to build responsive web sites. Gone are the days of squinting at tiny text and unfathomable navigation when using your phone or tablet.

We’re not going to see the App Store go away anytime soon, however we have started to see and new web-based applications that work just fine on any browser. Witness the launch back in February of The Guardian’s new responsive website – built on a WordPress-like CMS – and you’ll notice how elegant clean and fast it is. Why would you download an app and be pestered with updates and notifications when the web-app is this nice?

(on a sidenote, The Guardian have released all the front-end web code. That’s nice. Can you imagine companies releases free of charge the code used for their apps?)