SolidShops Mobile App: “We Chose Not To Go Native, We Chose Something Else”

Last week we launched the first version of our mobile web app.

When building mobile applications you have a few different options. The biggest choice one has to make is going native versus going web based. In this post I’d like to explain why we decided to build out a mobile web app and not a native application for iPhone, Android or another specific single platform. Let’s go over the pro’s and con’s of both approaches in a nutshell.

Native mobile apps


  • offline capabilities
  • performance is often better compared to apps running in the browser
  • app stores make your app more easy to find or discover in one central location
  • better overall user experience
  • you can more easily access device specific hardware capabilities such as the accelerometer, GPS, camera, …


  • targeting multiple platforms requires different apps and programming methods
  • you have to publish your app to multiple app stores (BlackBerry App World, Apple App Store, Android Market, … )

Web based (HTML5) mobile apps


  • you have offline capabilities as well: html5 database storage API
  • only one version of the app is enough for all your users since it runs in any mobile browser
  • you can easily re-use your existing codebase
  • no need to learn a new language or technology, you can use your web skills
  • updates instantly affect all users without going through an app store


  • it’s more difficult to access specific hardware capabilities of a devices (camera, accelerometer, …), however this might happen in the near future
  • performance tends to be a bit slower in the browser, although this can also change over time
  • it’s more difficult to get the same user experience as with a native app, e.g. gestures are more difficult to mimic in the browser

Hybrid Mobile Apps

To make things even more difficult, you can also decide to mix both of the approaches mentioned above by building your app in html/css/javascript while at the same time leveraging the power of frameworks to access hardware capabilities of a device. This can be done by using frameworks such as PhoneGap or AppCelerator to build your hybrid apps.

The number one advantage of this mixed approach is that you can use techniques you already master (html/css/javascript) to build your app and then deploy to multiple platforms at the same time. Depending on the framework, you’ll be able to deploy your app to the iPhone App Store, the Android Market and even to the BlackBerry App World.

We chose not to go native, we chose something else

For SolidShops, the choice was rather straightforward. Our goal is simple: be the best and most user friendly ecommerce platform out there for web designers and their clients.

We want everybody to be able to check their orders on demand, no matter what platform they are on. We don’t need access to all the fancy pants hardware stuff like your camera and GPS. We want to be able to push out updates whenever we need to without Apple deciding whether or not to accept our app.

We chose to go web based with jQuery mobile and think that is absolutely the best approach for us and our users.

Not convinced about the power of the mobile browser? Read here why HTML5 will kill the native apps as we know them! We hope that you will all enjoy the mobile application and as always are looking forward to your feedback. Let us know what we can improve to help you build better stores.

To use SolidShops on you mobile device, simply point your mobile browser to and login with your store credentials. Happy surfing!