A friend of mine who works at Phunware recently pointed me to their blog to read about a recent acquisition they have made; very cool, congrats.

Then a recent blog post of theirs caught my eye (as it is a topic close to my heart): The Delusion of “Write Once Run Anywhere” Mobile App, where Phunware’s CEO writes:

“…I turn my attention to another popular myth about the development and publication of mobile applications: the delusion of “write once, run everywhere” mobile applications and the fallacy of their existence.”

WORA? We still taking about WORA?


Today, talking about WORA is similar to the debate on mobile apps vs. webapps — seems it will never end. But I guess since for many mobile is still a new space, it is good someone writes about it.

True WORA will never happen. Not back in 2004 during my J2ME days when I wrote True WORA will never happen, and not today.

For certain classes of mobile applications though, there is some light at the end of the tunnel, as “close to WORA” can be achieved — for native apps with the help of cross-platform development tools, and for webapps thanks to toolkits such as WebKit, jQuery Mobile, Sencha, and so on.

But today (still) once you go media-rich, highly-sensor and context-based, it starts to break-down.

Even popular tools like Titanium and PhoneGap have limitations when trying to maximize the experience/goals, or maybe the problem is with the folks using such tools, but nevertheless, a number of companies that I have talked to recently and which have advised on the benefits of native app vs. webapp, have given up entirely and instead have explicitly asked for target-specific (Android vs. iPhone vs. mobile web) development only vs. trying to go cross-platform with the hope of reducing development costs.

At the same time, some of companies do realize that while mobile webapps won’t able to deliver (today) the level of functionality and user-experience that is as rich as native apps do, they do understand the trade-offs where the functionality and experience of mobile webapps is sufficient-enough for their goals, their customers, across mobile platforms, with respect to their development budget and expectations.

So yes, for certain application classes WORA is possible today, while true WORA across all classes of applications is not.

Related to this see: Mobility in 2011: Mobile Apps, Webapps and Tipping Points