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When to Make a Native Application

I’m obviously a big supporter of the mobile web; however, I am the first one to admit that making a native application can be the best thing for a product. This is usually true when you need to take advantage of the features of a device that a mobile web browser does not allow.

The following sections discuss some of the key features you may be considering that almost immediately point toward creating a native application.

Charging for It

Nowhere is it written that you can’t charge people to use a mobile web app, but for some reason, people think you can’t or shouldn’t. Historically, charging for things on mobile devices has come down to two obstacles:

  • Entering a credit card number in the mobile device is cumbersome and can be insecure on older devices. Typically, if you want to charge for it, you set up an arrangement with operators to do Billing on Behalf of (BoBo) so purchases just show up on the subscriber’s bill. This means you need to have BoBo arrangements with every carrier your application is on, which is its own headache. This is usually the preferred method, because a lot of people with phones don’t have credit cards, such as young people.

    Another route is storing subscribers’ credit card information on a secure website. The user is then able to log into her mobile profile and make purchases against it. This two-step process is less than ideal and basically means that people can’t just go and buy from their device.

  • Operators want their cut. ...

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