Please read Alex’s original post, if you haven’t. What follows are some thoughts in response to his post.
These are all native OS X apps:
I also think they all fly in the face of UX consistency within a system GUI, which I think is one of the things people bitch about with non-native apps.
The definition of “native” is really fuzzy here. it seems like you mean “uses the GUI toolkit that ships with the OS.” By this definition, though, I’d argue that many popular OS X apps are not “native,” even though they’re Cocoa apps. On Linux, Gnome and KDE apps are both “native,” but they certainly don’t look the same.
Some of your examples of people wanting native apps are people simply liking an app better because it’s designed better, and provides a consistent aesthetic with the rest of their desktop. That can and is often accomplished independent of the SDK you use. “Native” is not in any way synonymous with “better,” but lots of people toss it out there as if the argument is so obvious, it needs not be explained. It’s a lot like saying “it scales.”
Cross platform and “native” aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. It’s harder, yes, but not impossible. there are tons of variables involved, and I think you’re oversimplifying a pretty complex problem.
Cross platform is not, by definition, user-hostile. It can be harder to file off the rough edges, depending on the dev platform and the application, but I think that’s a matter of UX effort.
IME, “Native” UIs matter way less to users on mobile. Like, unless it looks like a fucking turd and totally nonfunctional, most users don’t care. Is it relatively smooth to navigate? Bonus. Spaz webOS is, from what I can tell, probably the most popular Twitter client on webOS. Why? Because it’s free. You know how many of my users have praised it for using “native” widgets, for the most part? Like 4, and they are all ultranerds.
Many (most?) of the AIR apps I’ve seen really should just be web apps, because there’s no great benefit to them being desktop apps.
Why are we okay with using some web apps if it’s such a huge issue? I prefer to use Gmail’s web interface, for example, and I prefer to use Google Reader in a SSB — although with a custom theme. Is it just that my expectations are different?
I think for many teams, like the one you mention, the choices are probably these (pick one):
- a really strong web app (that might not support some browsers)
- a cross-platform app based on web tech (devs can use existing skills)
- a native app for a single platform — probably not OS X.
Which do you choose? I guarantee you that for a company like Pandora, it does not make financial sense to do native Windows and OS X clients. Folks who 1. care and 2. would pay are grey-bearded unicorns in the grand scheme of things.