Maani Safa is the Product Director for Somo – Europe’s leading mobile advertising agency.
The mobile web vs Apps discussion has been heating up more and more over the past months – usually with polar arguments supporting each.
There is no doubt that the rise of “apps” was the major force behind smart phone usage becoming as high as it is today with Apple being the spearhead behind the craze with the iTunes app store. The idea of the “app” made it very simple for the mass market to recognise the ease of using a mobile device to achieve the exact same tasks on the go that users had been doing for years on the desktop.
Apps have fundamentally changed user interaction and user journeys online too – as it stands when user x wants to find a Chinese restaurant in the local area they are more inclined to dip into an app, whereas on the web, its nearly always through Google. So what is the answer to the app vs mobile web outcome? There isn’t one really. Both have a place.
As time passes, and the general mobile market leans further towards “smartphone functionality” as the norm the user base will begin to realise that the mobile web, html5 and faster browsers can provide more or less an exact experience as an app, except that the mobile web is multi platform – meaning whether you are on a Nokia N8, an iphone 4, a Blackberry Bold or Samsung Galaxy S, you are simply a click away from the chosen experience. No app store required.
On top of that – the likes of Google, both across the mobile web and Mobile OS’s such as Android are making searches both easier (Google goggles, Voice activation etc) and more useful. Google mobile search for restaurants is fantastic and beats the majority of app experiences.
Great examples of brands using mobile sites are Net-A-Porter.com, ASOS, Autotrader and M&S. M&S in fact made their single biggest web transaction across mobile – a £3000.00 sofa.
So does all this mean that apps will die a slow death? Not at all – for game apps and the like an app is a definite requirement, as the experience simply cannot be replicated on the web (for now). On top of that, the apps store marketing power is a force that is hard to compete with – here at Somo we have clients that ask us make them an app and ensure it reaches the top 10 download charts. Why? It can ensure downloads of around 100k – 300k a day.
As time passes we will see more and more brands have a presence on the mobile web – it will become a simple hygiene factor for them, which is fantastic for consumers. Apps will always have their place but expect to see more and more mobile sites built first and then simply wrapped in an app shell to also place it on the mobile app stores.