Editor’s note: This article is a reaction to a statement made by investor Marc Andreessen (of Andreessen Horowitz) in a recent interview with Wired in which he stated, “The application model of the future is the web application model. The apps will live on the web. Mobile apps on platforms like iOS and Android are a temporary step along the way toward the full mobile web. Now, that temporary step may last for a very long time. Because the networks are still limited.”
In doing some research for an upcoming story on the subject, I asked a few developers, investors, stakeholders and entrepreneurs for their take on Marc’s statement and got some great responses (to be published soon). One response, however, was so impassioned that I felt it deserved it’s own post. So, here is why Jeff LaMarche, author and CTO of software development firm MartianCraft, feels that Mr. Andreessen is wrong about the eventual death of mobile apps:
Andreessen is wrong. There have been those within the tech industry who have, since the earliest days of the web, been pushing this idea that the network will supplant the computer. That world is always right around the corner. Remember Sun’s old motto, “The network is the computer”? Back during the dot com boom, we were constantly being promised by companies that soon every computer would be a network computer. A thin client. A dumb client. There was a hard sell going on concerning the value of network hosted applications. Even after more than a decade, there are people still grasping at the idea. Look at the ChromeBook.
But, regardless of the merits of remote apps as an idea, it’s just not realistic for mobile devices. We’re not just talking about infrastructure that needs to be upgraded and expanded, we’re talking about limitations imposed by the laws of physics. To reach a point where an “always connected” device is truly always connected – even in basements and sub-basements, even in old brick and steel buildings, even in the most remote rural areas – requires more than simply adding or upgrading cell towers. Short of a breakthrough in our understanding of physics, there will always be places where your device can’t access the network reliably or at all. There will be less of those places over time, but they will exist.
The “web application model” is a great model ...