A long time ago, before iPhone and Android app stores, some people were saying apps were dead and the future would be web apps. The thinking was that fragmentation was making mobile development so difficult and costly that web technologies were the only solution common to all platforms. I commented that web technologies wouldn’t necessarily solve fragmentation problems and I concluded there would always be a mix of both based on their respective capabilities.
Apple came along and tried to convince us to develop solely for the web. Apple recapitulated, allowed native apps and now we have a huge apps ecosystem. However, the majority of recent new mobile development has been iPhone-only.
People have very recently realised that iPhone-only isn’t a sensible approach any more. In addition, there’s going to be an abundance of (tablet) screen sizes that mean it’s going to be difficult to create one app that fits all or share code between platforms. Consequently, I think we are about to enter a time where I can see a ‘pro-web’ resurgence.
However, I think the consumer appetite for apps and ease of discovery/payment will be heard to break. In practice, I can see growing use of web technologies within native apps, for example using technologies such as PhoneGap, so as to smooth over the differences between hardware capabilities.