In case you missed it, Apple got served a slice of humble pie. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that a group of consumers can now sue Apple for monopolizing the market for apps. How? Well, if you’re an Android user, you know that you’ve got options when it comes to getting apps (Google Play, Amazon Appstore, Samsung Galaxy Apps, SlideME…and tons more). But if you’re an iPhone user, you know that the only way you can get apps on your phone is through Apple’s App Store. The Supreme Court saw this as a violation of antitrust laws (AKA, a way to protect consumers from monopoly prices and keep the marketplace competitive).
The four iPhone users that brought the lawsuit forward represent a majority of consumers–they’re looking for alternative options for getting apps on their phones. Think about your own mobile habits; When was the last time you went to the App Store to download an app? What type of app was it? I’d be willing to bet it was a game or a social channel. And if it wasn’t, I bet you downloaded it for some sort of native functionality that you can only get with an app (think: push notifications, geolocation, camera integrations…all that good stuff.)
Enter: The Next Generation of Mobile
This Supreme Court ruling is so much more than a legal headache for Apple–it’s a major indicator that we as consumers are ready for a new way access app-like experiences on our phones (preferably one that doesn’t involve an app store at all). We’re ready for Progressive Web Apps.
Progressive Web Apps
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs for short) are a result of a group of tech powerhouses coming together (Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, and even Apple…literally the “App Avengers”) and finding a way to combine the best of the mobile web with the best of native apps. What they came up with were PWAs–web apps that have powerful technical backends that support rich native functionality like push notifications, offline caching, and integrations to native features like geolocation and the gyroscope. This means that brands can provide consumers with super powerful, rich mobile apps without ever asking them to go to the app store. If it sounds too good to be true, check out the results that brands like Pinterest, Twitter, and Trivago saw when they recreated their apps as PWAs last year. (And if you want to hear more about PWAs and their origin story, I highly recommend this podcast interview with Microsoft’s Jeff Burtoft–he was one of the “founding fathers” of PWAs).
So here’s where this leaves us: we have to start leaning into PWAs. If nothing else, we should see this Supreme Court ruling as consumers pointing us directly to the fact that they want accessible mobile apps, and they don’t want to have to rely on an app store as their one source of mobile truth. It’s the perfect time and place to be exploring PWAs as a potential app alternative.