Applications Opinion

The FT’s HTML5 app heralds the death of the App Store

I’m delighted to bring you an opinion piece regarding the future of the app store concept. It’s written by Tod Peddler, CEO at MobileNationHQ.

Over to you Tod:

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The Death of the App Store

As has been well reported, the FT recently created its own HTML5 app to circumnavigate the App Store. Some commentators think that this is a bad idea, however we believe that it is a sign of the way things will develop and may well be seen in the future as the start of the end for the App Store.

It’s true that there are many positive things about the App Store and the app eco-system that has grown up in large part thanks to Apple. But it is also true that we may need to consider that the App Store and the whole concept of app stores has had its day.

Shopping for Entertainment

If you’re looking to create an entertainment app – if you want to be the next Rovio and create the new Angry Birds game – then the App Store has obvious advantages.

The simple payment structure is clearly one of them. For your potential customers to be able to pay with just one click removes any barrier and allows them to purchase on impulse – exactly what you need if you’re going to target as many people as possible. And of course if consumers can easily purchase, then it means that the payment structure is in place for the publisher to generate revenues.

On top of that the App Store is seen as the place to shop for digital content, or as Michael says in his open letter, “Like it or not, Apple’s channel has become like the Wal-Mart of digital content.”

New Growth through Utility

However, this is all assuming that revenue is the goal and that app creators / publishers want to reach a new audience. We believe that the growth of mobile apps from this point on will no longer be in the sphere of entertainment, but will be in utility apps.

More and more the mobile is the way we access the every day information that we want – whether it is the FT, or the menu of the local pizza restaurant, or even our office’s internal policies. The rise of smartphones, and even the increasing ‘smartness’ of feature phones, means that many people turn to their mobile first.

For many companies presenting targeted information to their customers, employees or shareholders is a key goal – it stops people searching for information and finding alternatives. Apps provide the perfect delivery mechanism for this kind of targeted information and will continue to grow as more and more information needs to be delivered.

Of course, we shouldn’t forget the ‘cool’ factor of apps. Many marketing teams will want to create apps just to show that they are trendsetters in their industry … and soon everyone else will have to catch up. In fact we are entering a period now where not having a mobile app will be the sign of a ‘dinosaur’ organisation, much like not having a website was in the mid to late-90s.

Private Apps don’t need an App Store

And so it is the growth of these private utility apps that will eventually kill the app store model. As a publisher of a private utility app there are actually many disadvantages to using app stores. While companies will want their information to be delivered to the right people, they don’t want everyone to be able to access it. Not only that, but they want to publish, update and amend their apps when they choose, and not be at the mercy of a long-winded approval process.

Finally, they will want their content to be able to be accessed by all handsets and devices – not being restricted by app stores or specific devices.

For all of these reasons, we at MobileNationHQ believe that the FT’s HTML 5 app is a glimpse into the future, and is the way nearly everyone will be creating mobile apps in the near future.

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Tod Pedler is CEO of MobileNationHQ, which has developed tools to address the imminent demand for apps designed for targeted user groups rather than the mass market. MobileNationHQ is free to use – register at

Tod, thank you for taking the time to write. I’m in agreement — there’s no need for an app store for private/internal apps. I think the biggest issue you raise is the approval process. It’s all very well for leading consumer apps to have to get approved, but goodness me, it’s positively ridiculous for internal enterprise apps to have to go through the same process — all so that the end-user can press ‘update’ via the App Store.

What do you think?

I’ll be having a play with MobileNationHQ’s online toolset shortly!

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

7 replies on “The FT’s HTML5 app heralds the death of the App Store”

Hi Ewan, many thanks for publishing this. We don’t need an App Store to browse the Internet. We don’t need an App Store to discover and engage with content using our mobile devices. We’re betting on HTML5 for everyday mobile content delivery. It’s ubiquitous. So is the web.

If HTML5 becomes the ‘platform’ of choice for maybe 50% of apps in the next few years, where does that leave the ecosystem argument used as justification for Nokia dumping their existing platforms? 

It seems to me that if WP7/8 takes off it will be around the same sort of time that HTML5 is ready to take that 50%. Nokia will have been correct in their initial strategy from 2008 that web would be the next platform, despite aborted efforts along the way.

I also believe that the gaming percentage (maybe 40%?) could be handled pretty well with good standard C++ – input and audio libraries can already pretty much run anywhere and OpenGL handles the rest. The differences between platform builds need therefore be minimal and more about what hardware is available than which OS is running. Meego/Maemo makes it incredibly easy, as does Android.

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