History of Progressive Web Apps
When responsive web design reshaped the internet in 2012, the technology had stewed since the early 2000s. Now, as Progressive Web Apps are reducing page load times by 300%, offering trailblazing mobile UX, and promising to upgrade the internet’s facade, it’s once again a story of technological potential manifesting a decade after the original concept.
Was Steve Jobs the first to introduce the concept of PWAs?
Apple was talking about the innovative new way to create web applications “that look exactly and behave exactly like native apps” a long time before Google defined “Progressive Web Apps”. Way back in 2007 Steve Jobs introduced the visionary idea of Web Apps along with the launch of the iPhone.
Giddily discarding the need for native apps and focusing app development around Safari’s capabilities, his excitement quickly died down and, four months later, an SDK was on the way for building better-performing native iOS apps.
In the decade following the launch of the App Store, Apple profited $40+billion from it and the digital ecosystem was unalterably changed. A financially rewarding change of direction at that.
In 2014, Forbes ranked Jobs’ early and short-lived fixation on Web Apps among his biggest blunders.
Google introduces “Progressive Web Apps”
In 2015, the name “Progressive Web Apps” was coined by Chrome developer Alex Russel and designer Frances Berriman in an article that invited for a “deep shift in our understanding and tools” to “build better experiences across devices and contexts within a single codebase”. It’s a rehash of Apple’s idea supercharged with modern opportunities, and is fully backed by Google with an aggressive push for PWA development.
Since then, the biggest players like Google and Microsoft have been explicitly promoting the concept of Progressive Web Apps as a way of bridging the gap between web and native applications.
Along with the increasing adoption of mobile internet usage, Google’s excitement about Progressive Web apps and the industry’s switch towards the mobile-first approach (Google provided the first hints way back in 2016), more and more companies saw a great opportunity for growth and were keen to experiment with PWAs.
No wonder it was Alibaba, Forbes, Twitter, and other leading web companies that were one of the first to implement the PWA technology and… got rewarded with great success!
2016 — FlipKart, India’s largest eCommerce platform, seeking to reinvent their digital experience, turns to PWA. The company saw 3x more time spent on the website; 40% higher re-engagement rate; 70% greater conversion rate among those arriving via “Add to Homescreen”; and 3x lower data usage.
2016 — AliExpress increased the conversion rate for new users by 104% with a new Progressive Web App.
2017 — Twitter launched Twitter Lite to significantly increase engagement and reduced data consumption by 70%.
2018 — Uber launches m.uber — a use case for developing markets.
Mass adoption all over the world is underway! PWA is the hot topic at conferences around the world, and there’s no doubt that just like responsive websites used to reshape the web, Progressive Web Apps will become the standard for the industry.
As we see ready-to-use and open source PWA solutions appearing on the market, the adoption is rapidly increasing and PWA technology is now becoming available to everyone.
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