Myth 1: Mobile apps are winning the battle.
‘Our competitors are building apps. We GOTTA have one too!’
This was probably a reasonable conclusion back in 2009 when the app market was still young and fast-growing.
A report in 2013 showed that about 85% of consumers strongly preferred apps over mobile websites, given apps’ quicker loading time and convenience (read more at Econsultancy).
Yes, mobile apps are still popularly used in our life. But that doesn’t necessarily make mobile apps the top marketing priority over responsive websites.
So here is the second myth: Mobile app is the must-have for every business in the world.
To understand why, we need to look at the fundamental differences between these two similar worlds.
The overlooked key differences
MOZ highlighted the key differences by drawing on the strengths and weaknesses of both channels.
(A summary note from MOZ)
The key conclusions include:
- While consumers are spending less time on mobile websites, the overall traffic remains higher than apps.
- Mobile web traffic is widely distributed.
- While we spend more time on apps, the top 5 apps are likely to be responsible for up to 90% of all app usage.
- 7% of heavy users are responsible for almost half of all download activities.
In fact, most of us tend to use the same apps, like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, Uber and et cetera. The reality is that a large majority of apps are only used once or twice before being uninstalled.
The current problems with apps
From the user’s point of view, problems such as the lack of storage space (by downloading too many apps) and tedious updating often end up in fatigue.
On the other hand, web applications take much less space in mobile devices and the updates can be done entirely on the server, says Ars Technica.
‘Historically, the problem using web applications on mobile devices is that webpages have not been able to do the things we expect of apps: features like pinch and zoom or leveraging local hardware features such as the compass, accelerometer and camera. That’s changing, however, as mobile browsers provide access to local features ’
So should we invest in native mobile app or responsive web?
As you might have already heard this before: it all depends on your end goals.
As things have changed since 2008/9, building an app itself is no longer enough. Along with app development, business needs to consider other important factors: how to boost its visibility amongst today’s overcrowded and competitive app market where the top 5 tend to dominate 80-90% of all app usage.
While some recommend resourceful businesses to have both channels, it is also true that some end up completely shutting down their mobile apps years after the launch. Mostly because users could find the exactly same features offered on both apps and mobile websites.
As it has been mentioned earlier, native mobile apps may not be exactly the first choice if your priority to grow the traffic volume to your business.
On the other hand, it seems that having a quick-loading and SEO-friendly responsive website is a given for every brand.
When to invest in apps then?
Generally speaking, brands or organisations need to satisfy some key benchmarks before deciding on investing in mobile apps, such as:
When mobile web experience is not fit to deliver particular services, features and values.
- When there is an increasing number of returning visitors.
- When the profits of your app will likely to counterbalance the cost involved in developing and maintaining the app.
Having said that, every brand has its unique goal and therefore needs a completely tailored mobile strategy. Some may not need to be ranked on the top few pages in the app market to be successful, whereas others ought to compete harder for visibility.
Yet for many businesses, investing in SEO, SMM and HTML5 responsive seems to offer a sound starting point.
What do you think?
Appnova is a digital agency specialising in web design, UX, eCommerce, mobile app development, branding, content marketing and social media.