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Re: Mobile, Web and Multi-device

From: Marcos Caceres <w3c@marcosc.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2013 11:48:13 +0100
To: tomomi.imura@nokia.com
Cc: dom@w3.org, sa-takagi@kddi.com, public-web-mobile@w3.org
Message-ID: <BD73F3165B6A4CB8A85FE88B5EABCEC8@marcosc.com>
Hi Tomomi, 

On Friday, 20 September 2013 at 22:22, tomomi.imura@nokia.com (mailto:tomomi.imura@nokia.com) wrote:

> On 9/20/13 12:58 AM, "ext Dominique Hazael-Massieux" <dom@w3.org (mailto:dom@w3.org) (mailto:dom@w3.org)> wrote:
> 
> I like the "taxonomy" of web. We may want to break them down in genus and
> species ;-)
> 


heh, let's not go crazy :)  

> I have had multiple occasions when I needed to explain these terms to
> non-technical peeps.
> I usually describe the "web apps" as (single-page) web that take more
> user-interactions, and usually built with latest technologies that
> requires advanced browsers, while the "web sites" interacts less with the
> users.
> However, of course the boundary is fuzzy, and even a web site with
> read-only article can have some interactive "widgets" in the page.
> 
> I am not trying to bring back the topic, but yes, classification of
> "mobile" is getting too complicated these days.
> 

This is why it is best to avoid it: to ask, "what is mobile? What is a web app? what is a web page?" risk sending us down a rat hole that's rapidly morphing (it's really not that relevant and everyone will give you different definitions that will be neither fully wrong nor fully right - but 100% unhelpful). Those things are whatever those that build them want to call them - and not intervening or trying to define it is a good thing - that's what urban dictionary and wikipedia are for.  

"Mobile web" is a red herring (just marketing speak), like "HTML5". Perhaps it used to mean something - specially in the days when content was not being created for portable computers; but now that we all "get it" (even if we all truly suck at defining it - i.e., "we know it when we see it"), it's becoming increasingly rare for a webs site to not be tailored to a range of screen sizes and input method AND for a device to not be able to adapt the content of sites to small screens and input methods. 

In other words, this is not new and the distinction is not relevant or even interesting  - it's a mostly solved problem (and has been for a long time through media queries and declarative solutions). What is more interesting is understanding the limitations of the platform (and where it's limiting the range of experiences it can afford), and for us to focus on addressing those through *tangible* action through whatever means possible (filing bugs, contributing code, making test cases, making apps, lobbying WGs, etc.). 

> It is not just the hand-held devices that connect to Internet on cellular
> network anymore. How about wearables? Internet of Things?
> Google Glass is probably considered mobile, and it has a web browser that
> can access "mobile web" too.
> 

We need to be careful not to think of the Web this way. 

As hopefully all agree, there is no such thing as the "mobile web" and no distinction to be made between "that's mobile", "that's *not* mobile", and "but is that mobile?" - there is just people using information communications technologies (ICT) through an increasing number of devices. Part of that ICT is enabled by the set of standards that make up "HTML5". The standards and the implementation of those standards (so called Web browsers) is proving itself sub-par when compared to other competing technologies (e.g., iOS, Android and their ecosystems).

The consequence being that some applications built with Web technologies offer a sub-part experience when compared to native solutions on comparable hardware - or simply cannot enable the range of experiences provided by native platforms. Perceived or real: this in turn lowers user engagement, developers begin to lose confidence in the platform, and businesses fear that they could lose customers and revenue as a result. A gradual shift beings towards other platforms: users prefer the native app, instead of its web counterpart - developers find they can both provide more engaging experiences and generate more revenue for themselves on the native platforms, and so on. - slowly, the technologies that underpin the Web, like HTTP (and the now sadly compromised HTTPS), just become a channel for retrieving and caching data.  

> About native/web overwrap - all the packaged apps for web-based OS are
> still considered to be native apps, although they are written in
> HTML/JS/CSS.
> 

Right - because repurposing technologies is not "the Web". They are things that interact with it.   
> And hybrid app. Users actually can't even tell it the app is mostly or
> partially running on WebView or not.
> 

I'm sorry to have to disagree with you, but users and developers *can* and *do* feel the difference between native and using HTML5 technologies (even in packaged apps). Where they are sometimes not feeling it is when they make use of vendor (read Webkit) specific extensions, as is done with Sencha-built apps. 

Kind regards, 
Marcos 
Received on Wednesday, 25 September 2013 10:48:41 UTC

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