But stripping browser chrome off of web apps seems like far less of a challenge than developing for an ever expanding array of devices. With web apps, developers could code once and be reasonably confident their app will work on any object – phone, tablet, laptop, etc. – with a standards-compliant browser. The implications for developer time and resources are profound.
There’s a lot of truth to this, especially for tablet apps, which are qualitatively more work to develop than phone apps. I was part of a project for a large institution that built an iPad app that wasn’t much more than a port of their website. If non-iPad tablets ever gained any significant market share, I think we’ll see a quick shift back to building web apps. Large institutions aren’t creative enough to build something more imaginative than a port of their websites, and if they have to pay for the development and maintenance of 2 or 3 native tablet apps, most will pass and stick with their website.