An Entrepreneur’s Guide to the Future of Mobile Apps Part II: The Web is the Platform

By Marc Hudson on December 11th, 2012 / Comments

As self proclaimed stewards of the web, the Mozilla Foundation understands as well as anyone that the current mobile application eco-system isn’t exactly as open and friendly as it should be. Where some would see an impossible tangle of vendor specific technologies, Mozilla has taken the lead on standardizing application development once and for all.

Until now, porting an app to different operating systems meant that it had to be completely rewritten for each environment. Not only is that confusing, but it’s extremely cost prohibitive for many entrepreneurs who are unsure which platform to bet their startup budget on—that’s about to change.

Open Web Apps

Back in February, Mozilla made major waves when they announced the Open Web App project and marketplace. The Open Web App project follows Mozilla’s philosophy that “The Web is the Platform” and seeks to unify all mobile application development under a single set of common web technologies and guidelines, much like website development is done today.

By ignoring the proprietary development constraints that are forced on app developers by Apple, Google, and Microsoft, the Open Web App project will standardize application development using the common web stack languages, HTML5, CSS, and Javascript.

Open Web Apps are created on a common API, which allows developers to access native hardware functionality such as geolocation, phone, camera, bluetooth, and more. These new and exciting features were previously only available to native apps written in operating system specific languages. Now, they will be accessible to websites and Open Web Apps created with the web stack.

Adoption

The Open Web App platform isn’t just a Mozilla thing. It’s being proposed as a standard specification, meaning that it should lead to full adoption by all major operating system and browser developers.

Imagine a world where an app, written just once, works on a Windows computer, an Android Smartphone, and an Apple iPad—that’s the bright future ahead of us.

Still in its infancy, Open Web Apps already work on any desktop operating system, as well as Android powered smartphones. In the coming months, Mozilla is planning on finishing many of the Open Web App platform specs, meaning that they will be ready for widespread adoption very soon. Just how long it takes the major players to adopt the Open Web App standards remains to be seen, but the project is clearly gaining traction.

For entrepreneurs and developers, the time to start developing the next generation of apps is now.  Open Web Apps will be easier and cheaper to develop, reach a wider audience than native apps, and expose a whole new world of creative business solutions.

Next week, in part three, I’ll show you what tools you’ll need to start playing with Open Web Apps.

Click here for Part 1.

About the Author

Marc Hudson

Software Engineer (''UI Guy') at Quicken Loans and co-founder of Hudson Digital. Marc is a proud Detroiter and interested in development, startups, and health and medical technology.