I know it's cynical to say, but if that's the case, where are all the big budget 3D triple A games in web browsers?
Still a long way to go, and I remain unconvinced that web browsers are the best place to play those kinds of games, especially on mobile. Even with the ability to hide the web browser chrome by adding a web app to the home screen, abstractions upon abstractions upon abstractions without proper access to system frameworks that the browser doesn't have access to (like ARKit, HealthKit, etc.) low-level APIs (like Metal, as opposed to WebGL) just get in the way of what game developers are capable of now.
As someone who relies on udacity's app to follow a couple of courses in scenarios where I don't have internet access (say, in a flight) this news is very disapointing. It feels like a sort of bait and switch.
Just because Udacity is withdrawing their app, it does not mean that mobile apps are dying, or should die. I have passed several courses on Udacity and other MOOCs, and I cannot imagine following a programming course from a mobile device. I need to try out the things by myself, eg.: type code in an actual IDE, install a server on your machine, use command line tools, etc, things that you can't do from a mobile app.
"ultimately, ten percent of Udacity students downloaded the app". - this makes sense, why to develop and maintain an app that is barely used?
On the other hand, an app that was further developed and maintained might have been used more. The app, as it is, probably shouldn't have existed in the first place. There's room for an app at Udacity, but not what they made.
I used their mobile app because I wanted to download the videos for later viewing in a place with a poor connection. But even basic feature like downloading videos did not always work correctly. It was quite frustrating. So that's why I abandoned their mobile app.
I think maintaining a mobile app with basic functionality like downloading videos should not take much effort. We don't need a fancy mobile app where you can learn programming by dragging blocks of statements.
Anyway, I still love Udacity. I already graduated from two nanodegrees.
I don't think this is a good use case for "mobile apps should die", quite the opposite - how will I download the content and watch it on subway, airplane, etc?
I don't do much video when connected, prefer written format, so without offline capability I literally have no need for video classes etc (even Netflix won me over once I could download for offline viewing).
As well, ten percent of your user base ain't nothing!
This sounds like the right business move for Udacity. They’ve had to lay off a significant fraction of their workforce so it makes sense to focus on the platform 90% of their students use.
But this doesn’t have much to do with the general question of app vs web site. It really depends on what you’re doing. Also, apps and web sites have the same potential for massive privacy problems. Either way it’s up to what data is collected, how it’s secured and who it is sold to.
In my opinion, if only 10% of your students downloaded the app, that means you never had significant traction outside western countries. Mobile traffic is through the roof for developing Countries, often the only device owned by a learner.