Innovation Radar

Progressive web app: fundamental rethink

The app of the future… is not an app! The magic word is “progressive web app”. Why is this technology so groundbreaking? Because it means a fundamental rethink in the development sector that comes with lots of benefits. 

The first Apple iPhone app in 2007 started a major app boom. Now, both Google and Apple app stores offer approximately two million apps to help and support users in all areas of their lives. 

If smartphones have become an integral part of our private and business lives, the same should apply to apps, one would think?


Apps have a showstopper: it is called progressive web app (PWA). These PWA turn the million dollar business with apps entire on its head. Exactly like Uber and Airbnb have shaken up the taxi and accommodation business. 

PWA: website disguised as an app

What exactly are PWA? These are websites that look like native apps. They have the requested functionalities, but in a browser. Unlike a standard website, which does not have any interactive functions for users, a PWA is a website with interactive functions, in other words where users can perform actions. When launching the PWA on the smartphone, users barely notice any difference as the URL, i.e. the website address, can be stored as an icon. Users simply click on a symbol, just like they are already familiar with from apps. 

The advantages for end customers are huge:

  • No more downloading apps from the app stores
  • No updates required every time functions are expanded
  • Not dependent on the operating system
  • Dynamic adjustment to fit every screen size
  • Hardly any storage space required on the smartphone

Market requirements shape technologies

Why is a PWA such a showstopper for apps? Simple: the business with PWA is even bigger! It makes it possible to develop entirely new business models and opens up new business fields. You can also reach customers much more quickly as they do not have to download any apps to use any added value that you may wish to give to them. Users only have to open their browser. In the simplest of cases, this can be done by scanning a QR code. As a restaurant, you can shorten your waiting times or let your guest order straight away, for instance. As a retailer, you can conduct customer satisfaction surveys and even leave the entire POS functionality to the end customer. As a result, brand new store concepts can be developed and the customer experience can be improved significantly. The market requirements have long been present! There are barely any retailers, restaurant owners or fuel station owners who do not wish to have returning, satisfied customers or who would say no to an increased margin. Now the technologies are available for improving the customer experience!

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