However, while the economics, utility and ease of interactivity in apps are sorely lacking, so is the mobile web experience in browsers such as Safari. While our mobile web hardware experience continues to improve, our mobile network performance continues to fall. There just isn't the infrastructure to support the mushrooming market of incredibly web capable if not web centric mobile devices. (Not to mention that a good deal of my commute is spent with minimal or no web access on both airplanes and the NYC subway system.)
While I would love to believe that the future is in the browser, my battery life and data pipe dictate otherwise. But there is a way to have you cake and eat it to. And this future is not about the app or about the browser, it's about the offline cache and on-demand-sync.
AvantGo had a brilliant product. While my Palm Pilot had no mobile web connectivity, AvantGo saved a "cached" version of my web subscriptions to my devices. AvantGo even remembered where I had clicked and where I had changed my subscriptions, and updated the experience every time I synced.
This will be the future of our mobile device content experiences for at least the next 5-10 years. By allowing users to download and interact with content including magazines, newspapers and even broadcast television programs, hard-coding interactive ads into the downloaded content, and enabling sync-on-demand based digital interactivity around the content, users and content owners get all the data, subscriptions and access we need without draining our batteries or crippling our struggling mobile infrastructure.
The future is in the web app. But it's not going to be reliant on rich mobile web access.
While Google Gears may have been just another Google project, Apple's ability to bring this mode of interactivity to their devices will define their role in the non-app driven mobile content ecosystem.