Whether to go web app or native may soon become a moot point with the release of new app platform and delivery network from Strobe Corp., which allows developers to build an app in HTML5 and other web technologies and deploy it as both a web app and a native app. The platform, which Om first wrote about last year, is now available in a developer preview and will go into a wider beta release later this year.
The promise of Strobe is that it’s working toward building a one-stop shop for apps, which can appear on mobile phones, tablets and PC and mobile browsers. The apps are built primarily with Strobe in HTML5 and the open-source SproutCore and can be supplemented with a number of back-end add-ons such as location, social networking, storage and messaging. When the app is ready to go, Strobe can publish it to the web and also to app stores with a native wrapper. IOS and Android versions only are available now, but other stores will come online later. After deploying an app, developers can manage them and view analytics information using a single dashboard.
“A lot of people are focused on the current ecosystems, but we’re enabling what we think is the next app ecosystem that will be based on web technologies like HTML5,” Jolley said.
He said Strobe can enable more web developers to get into mobile app development, and it can allow larger companies to go mobile quickly and build viable businesses easily. But building around web technologies also provides some powerful tools to promote apps. For instance, Strobe said developers can enable users to create URL links to web apps that can be shared online and will take others right into an app on the web — to a precise place in an app even — to learn about it. Then the web app can be used to convert people to a native app where developers can engage and monetize them better. That’s a powerful idea that can turn social networks and e-mail into more effective outreach tools for app developers.
Strobe will come with a handful of its own back-end services though, for now, a social add-on is the only one available. Jolley expects to partner with other companies like SimpleGeo, Urban Airship, Stackmob and others to fill out its offerings. He said the partnerships will be complementary because many of these back-end service providers are focused on native apps. Strobe is using PhoneGap to deliver the finished apps to native app stores. To get started on Strobe, developers will need to pay $20 a month with the price going up depending on the services they choose.
This could be a very popular tool that helps developers and publishers simplify their mobile strategies and push out a single experience that works across multiple devices. By marrying HTML5 and native apps, Strobe is in a position to bring peace in our time and show how the two don’t have to be at odds but can work well together.