[Written originally for the CIPR Friday Roundup.]
"When is a mobile a tablet?" was the high level strategic question (that's sarcasm) that I was debating with our CIPR TV guests this week the minute before we went live.
We decided the answer is subjective. It's a tablet at the point you think you look stupid holding it to your ear. (Actually that's not verbatim. We used a more descriptive word than stupid.)
Fortunately, the show itself addresses more important matters. For me, the most important morsel emerged during the conversation about apps, in particular the idea that today's obsession with apps is just a moment in time.
Did you know that, of the hundreds of thousands out there, the top 50 apps account for 60% of all time spent on apps (Nielsen 2011)? And, in the words of Mobile Marketing Magazine editor David Murphy, many marketers appear to want one for no other reason than everyone else has one. That's hardly strategic thinking.
Did you know that apps, or native apps to give them their proper title, sit off the WWWW (Wonderful World Wide Web) and all the loveliness the web enables, but rather communicate in their own narrow little ways over the Internet (the network the Web sits on top of)?
You will know that native apps have to be developed for each sort of device in turn. Once for Apple devices, again for Android, again for Blackberry. And then there's Windows. And one in eight phones in use in the UK is Symbian.
So what's the alternative? Well, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web, recommends we build web apps instead of native apps.
A web app is built with open web standards that work across all web capable devices. They don't need to look like they're running in a web browser, and with the emergence in recent years of HTML5, the latest version of the language for web pages, you can achieve many of the things that have previously only been possible with a native app. (More from Sapient London's Paul Bevan on this.)
The best example I know of is the FT app. Check it out on your Apple device at http://app.ft.com. Nice.
The next time the execution of your communications strategy leads you to think of an app, think web app.