Wake up, before it’s too late – PWA can make mobile applications unnecessary

Progressive Web Applications (PWA) caught greater public interest at the end of 2017. The PWA technology is developing fast, and this year we are going to witness the first PWA breakthroughs. Companies are running out of time to catch up with PWA. Next year it might be too late.

Google rolled out its mobile-friendly update known as the “Mobilegeddon” in April 2015. This was followed by Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and in 2017 the Chrome support for PWA was published. In my opinion, this latter is a more significant milestone than responsiveness, AMP, and Mobilegeddon altogether.

At the time of writing this article, Chrome and Opera support all PWA features, and the PWA support for Microsoft Edge should be finished soon. Samsung has already indicated strong support for this technology. Web applications cause a threat to app stores, which is why Apple has been reluctant to publish its support for PWA. However, at the beginning of the year, Apple introduced service workers to both macOS and iOs with Safari 11.1. This move indicates that Apple, too, is now aboard the PWA train.

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Although PWA provides remarkable benefits for the user experience and development of, for example, news websites and e-commerce platforms, not all websites will need PWA features. Hence, each company should critically consider the possibilities PWA provides: how important is it to our business to provide a coherent user experience through a browser, regardless of the device? For a static, simple, fast website with little content, a responsive website should be enough in most cases.

In e-commerce business, we can expect the total opposite. Let’s have a look at Flipkart Lite, a progressive web application developed by the Indian e-commerce company Flipkart. Flipkart Lites has turned out to be a living proof of PWA’s benefits: 60 percent of all visits to Flipkart Lite come from people launching the site from the home screen icon. The home screen button also delivers high-quality visits, with customers converting 70 percent more than average users. This is only one PWA feature we are talking about here, but already that seems to offer outstanding results.

If PWA lives up to the expectations, mobile applications will become the set-top-box of the 22nd century: an unnecessary gadget, the features of which can be provided using build-in solutions.

For now, only a few Finnish websites have utilized PWA features. The PWA technology provides companies, which aim for one platform solutions, an attractive possibility to claim market share in mobile.

Websites and e-commerce platforms with versatile functionalities should definitely consider the role of PWA in their digital strategies, if not this year then not later than next year. I assume that the end of 2019 will be the last chance to get started with your PWA project if you want to gain any competitive advantage.