The desktop is under siege, and now is the time to switch sides

David Walsh:

I’m not sure web developers know how under attack they are from mobile devices and ‘native.’

Me too.

It’s an open secret that mobile ad revenue is not keeping pace with desktop revenue. Everyone with a content site is freaking out about this, including my corporate masters.  But the problem extends beyond the executive suites: front-line web developers need to embrace the new platform.

All those Macbook Pros and Macbook Airs are also part of the problem. Because they don’t have touch screens. Sure, hip web developers have smart phones and tablets. But they still live inside of non-touch laptops. The future is a touchscreen world, even if Apple hasn’t discovered it yet.

Over in the mobile world, users are convinced that “native” apps are the way to go. For political reasons, that will probably always be true. (Apple and Google are not in a hurry to surrender the revenue from their app stores.) But web developers know better. We know that HTML 5 + javascript is all we need to provide awesome mobile apps. We know that native wrappers like PhoneGap and Titanium are all we need to reach into the device’s api.

Still, there are many fat and happy web developers, like me, who work for companies that are raking in revenue from desktop browsers. My brothers, I am here to tell you: we are doomed. Do the right thing: start a side project that is mobile-only. Learn about PhoneGap and it’s rivals. Bone-up on mobile frameworks. Investigate the booming back-end-as-a-service companies that are serving the mobile dev community.

Whether or not our desktop sites survive, mobile and tablet are the future. That is where the big money and glamour jobs will be in 5 years.

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