The average mobile application consumes about 20MB of space, typically requires an internet connection in order to function, and requires several updates during its lifetime that can squander data. What is interesting, is that many of these apps often have accompanying web applications that have the exact same functionality but require only 1/20th of the space. Why then, are companies gravitating toward the production of of native applications?
When you purchase your mobile phone, many of the native applications come pre-installed, and it can be exceedingly difficult to remove them from your device. Some of them, such as calculators, alarm clocks and sound recorders, have a singular and trivial function, but still have large file sizes and connection requirements.
While there are certainly some native applications that are engaging and entertaining, they often come with drawbacks. From the development perspective, native applications are difficult to develop and are often challenging to get onto a mobile marketplace. For the end user, these applications can be difficult to install because of bandwidth limitations, large file sizes and frequent, data heavy updates.
The solution to the issue of native applications is to simply house them on the internet. All applications require an internet connection to work properly, so why not simply store them there and utilize the browser as the primary mechanism for functionality? This is precisely what a web app does. A web app relies exclusively on the capabilities of the browser in order to drive the functionality of the application, whereas a native mobile application relies on the capacities of the device.