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On Wednesday (Feb 3), mobile analytics firm Taptu released a new metrics report detailing the size and characteristics of a new breed of mobile website – the mobile touch website.These sites are optimized for touchscreen devices with finger-friendly layouts and lightweight pages which are fast to load over mobile networks.According to Taptu, there are currently more than 326,000 of these mobile touch websites.In recent estimates, there are less than 200,000 mobile apps available for from iPhone, Android, Ovi and Blackberry app stores.

This is the beginning of the end of the mobile app as we know it, as we predicted in our report, Mobile Cloud Computing .More and more, we will see developers turn to web apps so they can tap larger addressable markets.From Taptu’s report:

“Proponents of Mobile Web development cite a number of reasons why developers will increasingly favour Web-based services over apps. Unlike apps, which only run on single device platforms, Mobile Touch Web sites run under any mobile browser which is built on the open source Webkit components. With support for HTML 5 features already being rolled out in

these browsers, it’s getting easier and easier to create rich touch screen user experiences with the browser without having to create platform-specific apps.

In the future, using open standard APIs (e.g. the Bondi initiative) Web developers will be able to access deeper device functions such as geolocation. Once created, these Web-based services can be easily wrapped (e.g. using Phonegap) as apps for distribution in app stores. This gives the developer two parallel discovery mechanisms: i) visitors clicking on organic results in mobile search engines and ii) visitors downloading from app stores.”

What is striking about Taptu’s findings is the rapid deployment of mobile websites built using HTML 5, an advanced standard for mobile.

HTML 5 is the next iteration of the markup language upon which the bulk of the web is built.While it is certainly still a work in progress, the new version includes several features important to the acceleration of Mobile Cloud services, namely geolocation capabilities and support of offline data access, or “caching.”Caching in particular helps address one of the issues of mobile web applications versus native applications — the fact that most web applications depend on continuous Internet connectivity to operate.In HTML 5, caching is made possible, giving web applications an opportunity to get on more equal footing with native applications.

This is not to say that downloadable, native-running mobile apps will disappear.Far from it.It does indicate however, that the market will increasingly focus on rich mobile website development and perhaps less on native mobile application development, democratizing mobile content for a far larger audience to enjoy.