This question was posted on the Tools of Change for Publishing group on LinkedIn. Here is my answer:
The real trend is not apps. The real trend is the willingness to offer “interactive ebooks”. Or rather an interactive reading experience that contains multimedia, quizz, calculation, enhanced navigation, text to speech synchronization, games…
To offer that experience you have many options, for example :
– make a website (better if you have huge contents, you can stream the content on demand)
– make an ebook in PDF, ePub, Kindle. Even if the IDPF does his maximum, there are many challenges to achieve compatibility. On the other hand, you have the advantage of not locking your users in.
– make an app and deliver your content via an application store. The advantages are that the programming environment is very rich and “under control”, you can have quiet large applications (popular games can be 1GB), many users have the compatible devices (smartphones, tablets). The disadvantages is that you lock your customers into the app and that the application store will ask you 30% of the final price, making it harder to make money.