Mobile Web apps are starting to make a dent in the developer sphere and are beginning to find space on consumers’ smartphones and tablets. Two British companies believe that Web apps need an icon unto itself to differentiate from native apps and have created differentiator for consumers to know when they are using an app designed for the mobile Web.

Niche British application store Mobgets teams with Bristish digital communications agency Skyron to create the new icon, seen above. In a blog post last week, Mobgets said;

“With the increased supply and demand of Web Apps – apps accessed over a network such as the Internet or an Intranet rather than locally – Mobgets acknowledges that consumers need to be made aware that an app is a Web App as opposed to a Native App as they do sometimes perform differently. With companies like Adobe, Apple and Google all throwing their might behind HTML5 and the development of Web Apps, it is clear that Web Apps are here to stay. Whilst in time, they may perform the same as native apps, we feel consumers need to be aware of the app format before buying.”

Mobile Web apps run through the browser and often have less functionality than native apps because of limited device access permissions and hardware acceleration. That is starting to change with the evolution of HTML5 and the work to develop the standard by developers from the major tech companies as well as developer environments provided by companies like Sencha, appMobi, Appcelerator and others.

Facebook is also pushing hard towards an HTML5 mobile Web app ecosystem and we should start seeing some tangible products of that ecosystem in 2012 as developers create a critical mass of apps that users can share along the company’s Open Social Graph.

Do mobile Web apps need an icon to differentiate them from native apps? It will not be long before HTML5 apps are hardly distinguishable from native apps but for the time being that is not the case. Developers: will you use the mobile Web app icon? Let us know in the comments.

dan rowinski