History doesn't repeat but it sure does rhyme

Apparently most people rely on three native apps on their smartphone. I guess that means mobile is over and we can all go figure out whether it is VR, AR, or sensors plugged deep into the human cortex that will represent the next platform, right?

The long view (not to be confused with a short distance) of the smartphone has always indicated the path forward is the web with its increasingly capable runtime and "applications" that are loaded from a URL and implemented in Javascript. However over the last eight years this bet would have ended you up on the short end of the stick— UI performance, network bandwidth, native device capabilities and discovery for normals (a.k.a app stores) all conspiring to keep that long view a very long distance.

But there might just be cracks in the armor forming around the native app experience. In a history doesn't repeat but simply rhymes moment, the volume player in the US is currently under investigation from the FTC for tying things together, not the least of which are native app versions of search, maps, and the app store. Meanwhile ad blockers in the native browser, generally seen as threatening to the future of the web on mobile, may have just cast a bright light on the needs/incentives of publishers looking to reach users on mobile in a way that leaves some amount of room for a possible business model. And as a backdrop we've got a smartphone being released today that rivals laptop performance of just about 1-2 years ago ushering in the opportunity yet again to waste MIPS in the name of developer productivity.

Wrap that all in a bow of discontent over the winner take all dynamics of both of the major app stores today and you might just get to a enough of a disgruntled state to have the web do what it did on the desktop: provide a new common runtime that lets developers and service publishers feel like we are far from played when it comes to the open web on mobile.