For as long as I can remember, smartphones have been invading the mobile industry as innovated, as they seem. Manufacturers of such mobile operating systems like Apple and Android, are very much thriving knowing that the case is being set to a higher standard—especially now that mobile apps are more used by the consumers compared to that of the mobile browser usage. Mobile app development has also been constantly less mitigated because of such performance.
So, what is the real score?
There have been a lot of speculations that mobile browser has slowly been declining. Or has it declined, in a massive sense? Perhaps it is because of the endless persistence of mobile app consumers’ hooked up to using applications due to its ‘oh-so-easy-to-access’ feature. But then again, the question still lingers.
According to comScore, apps have finally taken a slight lead in overall penetration. In the U.S., mobile users accessing a mobile browser vehemently increased around of 21% from February of 2010 to May. On that same year, a rate of 23% of mobile users accessing downloaded apps also increased. Which means there has been quite a competition.
People also spend far more time accessing apps because it has the same end goal a mobile browser gives a consumer. Apps are also being used both desktop and mobile combined.
From March 2011 to 2012, the minutes spend per month on apps doubled compared to the time spent on mobile web, that is according to Nielsen.
You see, there is a clear pattern that mobile apps are now surging and that its continued patronization of consumers toward this phenomenon is quite a challenge to mobile web developers. Although this may not be a winner-takes-all competition, there is still plenty of growth to go around for HTML5 web-based apps for a promising long-term technology, which could still change the playing field.
But somehow, it is still a worrisome trend for the web. There are signs that it will only get worse. There is an on-going trend of valuing more on app users than web users, that is why you can see a lot of pop-ups and banners on mobile websites that will let you download apps.
What are the patterns?
As an observation, there are patterns that would describe how mobile apps and mobile browsers are being used nowadays by consumers.
The most popular mobile activities
In this case, activities that would pertain to social networking, gaming, email, weather, search and maps. These activities are more commonly seen now as apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like. Yes, there are browser equivalents for this, but don’t you see how useful and easy for them to access if it only needs one touch, basically on an app, and voila! You are immediately directed.
Accessing your e-mail is also too easy while using a mobile app since Gmail, Yahoo and others, can now be stored in one Mail app, for iOs users. Updates on weather can also be accessed through an app, solely created for it.
How people use their phones to shop
There are also patterns on how consumers use their mobile devices in terms of shopping. In just a few clicks and touches on those screens, and without using a browser, one can now have his or her order delivered directly on their porch without having the hassle of going out of their homes.
How users are consuming content on their mobile devices
Consumers, through applications that are creatively created by developers and are being updated from time to time, can now enjoy contents such as books, videos, music and news. A lot of websites are now being constructed as mobile applications on smartphones so that users can have direct access to them.
However, there are also reasons why a mobile website is still a practical step in one’s mobile outreach strategy especially if your goals are primarily related to marketing or public communications.
Immediacy is one key factor that would consider browsers more effective because they are instantly available online. Mobile applications needed to be downloaded first in order for you to use.
Compatibility is also another requirement, since browsers can be reached by users in many different types of mobile devices.
In terms of shareability, mobile websites on browsers can be shared between users via a simple link and be easily redirected.
Apps make sense due to a number of specific scenarios where an app can be your best choice, not mentioning that its really popular these days.
For interactive games (think Angry Birds or Candy Crush), an app is almost always going to be your best choice. It would make a gamer’s experience more focused than having to run the game in a mobile browser.
If you want an app to be used in a personalized fashion on a regular basis by your target users (think EverNote), then an app can provide a great way to do that.
No connection required
An app makes sense when you want to provide offline access to content or perform without a network or wireless connection.
If you need to access a user’s camera or record your voice as a reminder, you can use an app that will store this data directly from your smartphone.
App or Browser – which is better?
It always depends on what your end goal is. Aside from the comfort that both give to its users, there should be consideration on the purpose of using an app or a mobile website. Yes, at some point, using a mobile app might be a bit of advantageous now, might be because smartphones are continually produced and for them to be useful, creation of apps are being situated for a smartphone’s feature. Mobile browsers on the other hand, are still used nowadays, but are often devalued because of the mere existence of mobile applications. At some point, it may be right, but then browsers are still helpful especially if you wanted to do multi tasking in the form of many tabs while researching stuff.
The point is, as long as mobile remains a relatively new frontier; the “app vs web” question will remain a very real consideration for organizations seeking to establish a mobile presence and for users to continue using them. Mobile applications may be winning over browsers—desktop or mobile webs—but let’s acknowledge the fact that most mobile applications found on your smartphones came and started out as sites on browsers.