Mobile devices are spreading like wild fire. Because of its mobility and ease of access, tablets and smartphones have become a necessity more than an accessory—especially the latter. Smartphone sales have grown considerably in the past years. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), in 2011 there were a total of 491.4 million shipped smartphone units in the world. This posts an increase of 61.3% from 2010’s 304.7 million units.
Notably, even with its business-related features—email, browsing, office capabilities—businessmen and professionals are not only ones hooked to this device. According to a Nielsen 2011 survey, 38% of mobile phone users aged 13-17 years old own a smartphone. Interestingly, 18% of seniors aged 65 and above who own mobile phones use smartphones. With these figures, there’s no doubt that smartphones are the future of mobile devices.
Because of the growth of the use of smartphones in all age groups, more and more companies and businesses look to build their mobile presence. Doing so will help them reach their market better. However, the question is not whether or not to penetrate the smartphone demographic, but with which platform to do so. For those familiar with a smartphone, there are two ways to browse the Internet with it: through mobile applications and through mobile websites. The two may seem similar at first, but the two have determining factors that could spell boom or doom for the brand.
So, if you’re stuck with the predicament of having to choose between the two to help your business get into smartphones, you may want to know more about these two first.
While both of these features could be accessed through a smartphone, mobile apps and mobile websites have key differences as well.
Mobile websites are made up of browser-based HTML pages that are linked together. Just like a typical website, mobile sites can viewed over the Internet, whether via Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G networks. However, unlike full-fledged computer-based websites, mobile sites are designed to fit the smaller display and touch-capability of smartphones.
Mobile applications (apps), on the other hand, are available on device-specific application distribution system of Operating Systems. These include Apple’s App Store, Android Market, Google Play Store or the Blackberry App World. The apps are downloaded and installed on the device, and may access content via the Internet or at times even while offline.
Which one is better?
To be honest, to outright say that the other one is better is impossible, simply because each one has its own benefits. Each can work for you brand depending on the nature of the business. However, it is always recommended that if it is your first time in the web industry, having a mobile website is a good first step.
Here are some points you might want to consider when deciding:
Convenience can work for these two platforms on separate levels. If you intend to put up a mobile feature that will require users to use it often, then mobile apps could be a good way to go. However, if your content isn’t one that will be visited often, having a mobile site would be better—no downloads and installation needed.
This will be a sure win for mobile websites, since apps differ across different smartphones and requires separate version for each. Mobile sites can be accessed via any mobile browser.
Ease of Upgrade
Mobile sites will win this one too since updating the site will be solely based on you. You simple edit and publish the site and all updated content will be visible and easily accessed by users. While updates on apps have to be pushed to users, downloaded and updated.
For games and other content that need a lot of user interaction, mobile apps are a better choice.
In the end the choice stands on the goals you have in establishing you mobile presence. If you intend to stir interaction with you users, mobile app is the better choice. But if you intend more users to view your content, then a mobile site is the best for you.