With the current rise in development of Responsive Websites, eliminating the need to develop multiple versions of Websites for different computer devices, I have been questioning whether Web-based applications will soon dethrone native apps?

If we take a look at the current home-screen of any smartphone or tablet, you are likely seeing native apps from some well-known brands such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google, to name just a few. And you may also see some from companies such as Amazon, Target, and eBay, which sell a lot of products via the Web.

Now I am sure these sites and companies have access to suppliers who know how to build effective Websites using the latest and greatest Web technologies. I am also sure the mobile device's browser supports HTML5 markup with CSS3 styling, probably powered by a fast JavaScript engine. So why is there a need for these native apps instead of Web pages that can do the same thing?

The fact is the mobile Web market is much larger than native applications markets. Like Responsive Web Design, coding for the mobile Web would allow app developers to reach a broader audience on multiple devices and platforms in a single stroke. Platforms like iPhone, Android and Windows Mobile (which all use unique languages and techniques to develop applications) actually represent only a fraction of the overall mobile device market, while Web apps are accessible from a much larger number of handsets. Championing Web apps would also allow developers to use HTML, CSS and JavaScript going forward instead of learning new languages to code native applications. And let's not forget the 30% cut on revenue Apple takes to sell your app in their store, not to mention complete ownership of all accumulated subscriber data.

These all seem like really crucial points.

Unfortunately for Web app fans, the biggest problem is their performance. Native apps are streamlined to run as efficiently as they can on the device they are designed for – while Web apps are limited by browser constraints. Another issue, while coding for the internet may be simpler than creating native apps, the native platforms allow the apps to take advantage of the device's features and functions. From a user perspective, this is more appealing because they would rather use an app that felt like it belonged on the mobile platform rather than use a Web app that seems shoehorned onto the device through HTML. And lastly is lack of exposure.

Everyone appreciates the need for an app store. It provides a one-stop shop to make a single-click purchase (providing your credit card is already on file) of any app for your device. The thought of having to visit each company's Website to purchase their Web app seems very inefficient. Yet one company has already decided to make the leap. Recently the Financial Times declined to make changes required by Apple’s terms thereby removing their presence from the app store. Instead it’s been directing its subscribers to an iOS-specific, HTML5-based Web app that it’s developed. Only time will tell us who wins this battle, though I am rooting for the Financial Times.

In the end, I think the question still remains - will mobile Web applications one day outpace native apps? I think so. Like Responsive Web Design, it just seems logical to develop one version of the application that will work on multiple devices. The introduction of HTML5 is only helping to improve the infrastructure of the Web, making applications faster and more functional. All we are really waiting for is mobile devices themselves to contain the computing power of our desktop machines and a single central location (similar to the Apple App Store) where a user can go to download them directly. Then, I believe Web apps will make a run on native apps.