Progressive Web Apps: Can They Replace Native Mobile Apps?

What is a Progressive Web App?

While browsing websites on your phone, have you come across some websites that look as well as behave similar to their corresponding mobile apps? You are then likely to receive a prompt that suggests that you add this mobile site to your homescreen.

If you happen to click ‘Yes’, the app installs itself on your smartphone and sits in your app drawer. It provides you an app-like experience when you launch it.
This is nothing but a Progressive Web App (PWA).

Essentially, a Progressive Web App is a hybrid of web pages and a mobile app. These apps use modern web capabilities to deliver app-like experiences to users. Regardless of the browser choice, these work for every user.

How can Progressive Web Apps be an alternative to Native Mobile Apps?

Though native mobile apps are popular due to their fluid experience, developers and mobile marketers need to invest heavily to get users to discover, install, and actively use the app consistently. This challenge is more acute for bootstrapped app businesses that might not have access to financial resources to drive rapid growth.

This opens up an opportunity for Progressive Web Apps to plug this gap effectively.
Initially, mobile web apps that gave some native app experience on the browser couldn’t engage with their users via push notifications as a critical channel. But now, with the increased adoption of Progressive Web Apps and the advent of new web APIs, the gap between them is shrinking, thus providing a seamless app-like experience.

In fact, According to Gartner, Progressive Web Apps are likely to replace around 50% of all consumer facing apps by 2020.

What are the advantages of Progressive Web Apps?

1. Lean app size optimised for storage:
This gives Progressive Web Apps a huge advantage over much larger native mobile apps that have to compete for space on the users’ smartphones.

2. Ability to function offline with low data requirement:
This ability allows Progressive Web Apps to operate even under diverse conditions of fluctuating mobile connectivity and data speed.

3. App upgradation is not a critical concern:
Since Progressive Web Apps bypass the standard app marketplace, the product management team doesn’t have to worry about the app version adoption/upgradation rate. This frees up developer and marketing bandwidth, allowing them to focus on actual strategic decisions.

4. Easier user acquisition and activation:
Continuous development of Progressive Web Apps can provide a smooth update that is platform-agnostic, lightning fast, and easily accessible. The quick sharing and add-to-home screen feature helps app businesses capture the true mindshare of the target audience, unlike the overpopulated native app marketplaces where app discovery or App Store Optimisation (ASO) can pose major challenges.


5. Help drive north star mobile app metrics:
Progressive Web Apps help foster a healthy app ecosystem, especially in emerging economies like India where the penetration of smartphones and mobile connectivity continues to increase. Leveraged effectively, these can boost user engagement, conversion rates, user retention, and CLTV.

The impact of Progressive Web Apps can be best understood when it was implemented to solve the problem targeting users from non-metro cities or with 2G internet network by Voot, a media OTT platform in India.

Voot’s progressive web app resulted in a 39% increase in session-time per user, 77% increase in conversion from visitor to video viewer, 15% increase in average daily video views per user, and 80% reduction in page load time.

Apart from Voot, other major domestic brands such as Flipkart, Ola, BookMyShow, and MakeMyTrip have leveraged Progressive Web Apps to scale app adoption. Globally, the likes of Trivago, Pinterest, Uber, and Tinder have gone the Progressive Web App route…and, the results are there to be seen!

Progressive Web Apps accelerate the users through the AARRR (acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, and referral) cycle at a faster rate than native mobile apps.
This technology has great potential to create its own space in the exponentially growing consumer-focused market. As is always the case with a disruptive industry development, this shift is definitely going to bring along many changes for brands, users, and marketers alike.

To understand just how you can leverage Progressive Web Apps to unlock the true potential of your app business, get in touch, today!

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