Mobile Website vs. Mobile Applications

In this age of web-enabled Smart phones and other “Smart” devices that are flooding the market, we here at Adworkshop have noticed that the number of “apps” (applications) and mobile sites being downloaded is skyrocketing.  As a matter of fact, our advertising agency in upstate New York came across an eMarketer report on a recent survey conducted by Adobe which found that most mobile users prefer to get their content from mobile websites rather than mobile applications. The only categories that showed a higher mobile application download preference were games, music and social media.

It seems to us that the same businesses that were saying a year ago “we need a mobile site!” are now starting to think “we need an app!”, but may not be aware of the details involved in developing either one.  Apps are generally easy to download, but research by Pinch Media recently revealed that unless the app is a game, “less than 5 percent of downloaded apps continue to be used 20 days after being downloaded.”  That means that the life cycle of an app has run its course in under three weeks, which loosely translates to a wasted investment.

Adobe also found this to be true. Two thirds of the surveyed group preferred to download an app for a game rather than browse a mobile website for one. eMarketer’s report noted that “while consumers may use the mobile web more often, the immersive nature of apps allows them to play just as large a role in marketing communications.”

Mobile web development costs are lower (no need to develop an app for different platforms such as iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc. etc. etc.), it’s much easier for a site to be found in search engines, and consumers seem to prefer using the familiar format of a mobile website for sourcing content. However, our website design team has noticed that the performance of an app is quite high compared to some mobile sites because the code runs locally on the user’s device.

Even so, many signs seem to point toward mobile web.  Besides the lower development costs, there are no “additional costs” tacked on, such as entry costs, which some app stores charge with each upgrade.  Plus, there’s no need to share any sales revenues as a result of someone using a mobile website (app stores can take up to 30 percent of your revenue!).  Anyone on the web has access to your mobile site, but with an app, you rely on the app stores’ policies and procedures on how many users can download and install the app.

Some marketing professionals feel that apps are temporary; others feel they are here to stay. There are conflicting opinions all over the place.

We here at Adworkshop encourage you to do some research or consult a marketing agency when deciding if now is the time to go mobile with either an app or mobile web.

Guest author: Darcy Norfolk is a General Manager with Adworkshop in Lake Placid, New York.  Adworkshop the only employee-owned upstate New York marketing agency with over 30 years of award-winning results.

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