Investor Relations (IR) Apps: Native or HTML5?
In the tech/web development world, a debate is underway regarding whether the future of mobile applications is in Native apps (i.e. those apps one can download from Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Market) or HTML5 apps (i.e. web-based apps that run via a standard web browser). The question that should be asked, from the investor relations/public company perspective is: Why does it matter?
As an investor relations practitioner of more than 15 years and co-founder of theIRapp™, my opinion as more and more companies begin to realize the importance of optimizing IR content for the growing number of mobile devices worldwide, is that it is important for all of us to at least have a basic understanding of the difference between the two — especially before we begin to consider developing and implementing a mobile IR communications strategy.
Mobile investor relations apps are a new and growing phenomena in the IR industry. Companies, big and small, are developing IR apps as part of their IR communications strategy. Based on the current way in which IR content is displayed, IR officers recognize that iPhone and Android displays are not conducive to consuming information. They realize that it can take several steps to get to the IR section of a corporate website and, once there, the IR content is not easy to navigate. Investors want direct and easy access to a company’s IR information. If the information is difficult to access, there is a good chance the investor will move on to the next company waiting to convince them to take a position in their stock.
IR apps prevent these issues. With the simple tap of an IR app icon, investors can now have immediate access to the information contained on the IR section of a corporate website, all optimized for mobile.
Before launching an IR app, investor relations professionals should understand the difference between Native and HTML5 apps:
|Good for direct traffic – use when there is frequent use of a particular website or webpage||Good for intermittent traffic – use when website or webpage is not visited regularly and therefore not likely to be downloaded|
|Able to have push notifications and offline storage||Not able to offer push notifications or offline storage|
|Doesn’t require strong internet connectivity to perform well||Requires strong internet connectivity to perform well|
|Available on Apple’s App Store and Google Play Market – 80+% of the mobile market||Not available on Apple’s App Store and Google Play Market – 80+% of the mobile market|
|Free download for investors: no charge from Apple and Google for download||Free download for investors: no charge from Apple and Google for download|
|Turn-key solution – not costly; custom solution – can be costly||Turn-key solution – not costly; custom solution – can be costly|
For obvious reasons, I am subjective. But our decision at theIRapp™ to offer public companies a Native app solution was strategically based on the following reasons:
- Apple and Google are here to stay. There are hundreds of thousands of apps already live in the App Store and Google Play Market. Every public company should want their IR app to be available in both of these markets. HTML5 apps are not.
- Push notifications are critical for an IR app – investors want to know when something is new. Otherwise, with multiple IR apps on their device, investors will have to repeatedly open the apps to determine if something new has been posted. HTML5 apps do not offer this functionality.
- As a Native app, theIRapp™, which will soon offer offline storage, is not dependent on internet connectivity and speed. HTML5 apps are.
- IR apps are free (or should be free) to download for the investor – therefore the issue of a charge from Apple or Google is not relevant.
- Since theIRapp™ is a turn-key, exclusively mobile app solution and is independent of a company’s corporate website, the cost for a company to have an IR app is a fraction of the cost of a customized Native or HTML5 IR app or one that is tied to the development of the IR section of a corporate website.
- According to analyst firm Gartner, in its latest Hype Cycle report (a prediction of how technologies will evolve), HTML5 is still ten years away from becoming a suitable basis for businesses technology.
So I have to ask the question, “Is HTML5 really betting against Apple and the viability of the App Store or Google and its Google Play Market?” While it is true that HTML5 apps are supported by all major web browsers, stop to consider the fact that Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android devices comprise more than 80% of the worldwide mobile market.
The debate over the virtues of Native apps and HTML5 apps is just getting started among the techies. The question for IR professionals shouldn’t even be at issue.