In recent years, developers and authorities have questioned the power of Apple and Google over the distribution of applications on mobile operating systems. If you have an Android app, you may be able to use other app stores like the Amazon app store. But if you have an iOS application, you have no choice but to go through the Apple App Store.
But a startup called Parallelz has another solution: convert your native app into a web app without losing quality and increase its visibility through web distribution. For this, the company plans to offer a unique set of tools that could convert a developer’s app without the need for an SDK or having to make changes through the app.
To build this platform, Parallelz raised $3 million in a pre-seed round from investors including former Uber VP of Growth Ed Baker, ProductHunt founder Ryan Hoover and Maple VC general partner Andre Charoo.
Other investors include organizations such as Global Founders Capital, Play Ventures, Garage Capital, and individual investors such as Shopify VP of Engineering Farhan Talwar, a16z General Partner Jonathan Lai, and Founder of the research company Golden Jude Gomila.
Company Founder and CEO Albert Lai’s previous experience was launching titles through Facebook’s Instant Games. In doing so, however, he found a lot of limitations and features that would be lost, which was so much work it was almost like rebuilding the titles. This prompted him to start thinking about the bigger problem and how to build a better solution.
There are already workarounds for people who want to use native apps without downloading them. The Google Play Store, for example, has a feature called Instant Google Play, which lets you experience native apps without installing them. But Google’s goal is to get you to install the native apps, so it holds back some features. By contrast, Parallelz wants you to have the full experience without installing the native app, using it on the web.
You can also consider Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) as another equivalent. However, Lai says his solution is quite different.
“We are trying to create a paradigm shift by building a new layer on the internet. Like a browser that allows you to surf web pages, we create a browser that allows you to access applications. Like web pages, we aim to make apps a standard type of media that people access,” he said.
Parallelz said its platform – which will launch later this year – will require a developer to have a valid application binary, which will allow the native application to quickly convert to a web application. Once the platform launches, developers will almost instantly get a URL for the app, which they can share with others, use for marketing, and more.
Lai noted that users could then make in-app purchases, much like you would buy items on an e-commerce site.
“We will provide our developers with a range of options and make integration as easy as possible with some very creative technologies and innovative methods that we will unveil later this year,” he said.
The company has yet to come up with a monetization model, but said it has thought of several possible ways, and it will be easy to implement once it has a critical mass of developers.
“Parallelz has achieved what many developers thought was impossible. Soon, sharing a mobile app will be as easy as sending a link,” Hoover said in a statement.
Charoo said factors such as “app fatigue, rising user acquisition costs, the 30% tax, and a single point of failure” have made mobile apps “an increasingly difficult and challenging channel.” ineffective” for marketers and brands. He noted that the startup’s new approach to architecture will be a game-changer for app discovery and delivery.
Lai said that while web apps have the advantage of not incurring app store fees, the biggest advantage is that the web is accessible to millions of people, and so there is the tantalizing prospect that something goes viral, just like Wordle.
But for now, that puzzle was more of an outlier than anything approaching the norm for web app experiences. In reality, the downside of web applications has usually been this discovery has been a problem. Google allows developers to download PWA to Play Storebut there is no separate section to find them.
Google also tried distributing web apps through Chrome, but that never took off, and it is being closed. So while Parallelz can solve the problem of converting native apps to web apps without any compromise, it will still have to do a lot of work to enable discovery.