It's 2008 and news publications are rushing to develop an app for the iPhone to get the early mover advantage. The cost of development is topped only by the optimism of the stakeholders who have invested precious time, energy, and resources into ensuring their new platform will catapult them to success.
The problem with developing apps for an emerging market, however, isn't the expense or resource drain; it's the fact that it's a gamble on capturing a small chunk of an audience in favor of focusing on a larger one.
As development costs have risen, engineers have become more inventive, and have started coding their apps in languages that support cross platform functionality between native apps and the web. And as browsers make their way into app stores, some publishers have abandoned the push for a native app entirely. This trend isn't motivated just by financial circumstances alone. At their core, publishers all want the same thing: to get eyes on their content. And the web has always been an enabler for that. The truth is -- in emerging markets, access to content, rather than presence, is what determines success.
In emerging markets, access to content, rather than presence, is what determines success.
In virtual reality, we're now seeing a similar trend. Rather than developing costly native applications for the newest high-end VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, developers are opting to develop for the immersive web, or WebVR.
For immersive applications with the need for constant updates such as those seen in news publishing and real estate, this is a win-win. Web applications typically have a faster turnaround time, are more easily updated, and don't require approval from an app store gate keeper.
As more industries adopt virtual reality, expect to see the number of WebVR apps grow. Facebook, Google, and Mozilla are betting big on the future of an immersive web, and for end users, that means better experiences, more powerful applications, and open access for everyone.