Native apps aren’t just better because the technology is better, but because they are small, discrete applications, tightly focussed around a specific task or use-case.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the media world. On the one hand we have massive, sprawling, and terribly confusing sites (like the Huffington Post) and on the other we have simple, focussed apps tasked around reading and interacting with a very specific subset of information. The New York Times actually has several specialised apps including News, Real Estate, Crosswords and Sudoku.
Some sites are already like this. Twitter is a good example … the Twitter web interface is very slick, and on the desktop is only beaten by clients with specific niche features (like Tweet-decks multiple account support for example).
It seems nearly too obvious to point out, but nearly all web-based applications (as opposed to sites) already follow this approach. The 37 Signals suite, Freckle Time Tracking, Pivotal Tracker – the list is long. When you think like an app, you behave like an app. This thinking pervades the ancillary marketing materials of these services as well. Each 37 Signals application has a dedicated website focussed on the task of selling that application.
What happens if we start applying this vision to the broader web?
Imagine … a central place to discover applications, each area of a site functioning as a standalone application, wound tightly around a single area of focus, a single task, a single use-case.
Many small pieces, tightly focussed, loosely connected.
And a small note while I am here: native apps are in general better at the current stage of our technology. In general, native apps have better integration, a smoother experience. BUT … this is not a guarantee, and there are plenty of bad native apps (check the Apple App Store for thousands of examples). I am betting on HTML 5 all the way. Just so you know.