Insights on Web vs Native Mobile App: Forrester Says Do Both
"More than half of European (and 60% of US) consumers who download apps at least monthly also access the Internet via their mobile phones at least daily. In short, heavy app users are also heavy mobile Web users," Forrester said.
Source: Global Intelligence Alliance
Based on this consumer behavior data, I tend to agree with Forrester that in terms of mobile reach, the debate on building a native mobile app or simply providing a web app is irrelevant.
While this list of pros and cons, technical and business merits of each serve as a useful starting point for determining a sound app strategy for business apps, at the end, for product strategist, the question will be: what is your objective?
But since both offer the benefit of increased customer awareness and engagement, still for me, I think it would be better to do both as they complement each other. The pros of native mobile app cover the cons of web app and vice versa.
I like to emphasize the point of Forrester which I think is the gist of the report and is beneficial for product strategists:
"both technologies will improve over time but will continue to coexist"
Moreover, "The Forrester report says that apps often fulfill a "lean-back" role for consumers while browsers fulfill a "lean-forward" role. It makes sense. When you consume content via a smartphone or a tablet, you are probably in an app that takes advantage of the deeper integrations of the device like accelerometers, ingrained video capabilities, cameras and yes, location-based services. The mobile Web is used more often for research and looking things up on the fly while out and about."
To add, here are some viewpoints on the topic of some experts:
JC Medina, a Business Development Manager of Exist shared his future outlook for mobile:
"Mobile websites, would always remain a necessity and solves a lot of conversion issues for devices.
With the introduction of new mobile application frameworks and the industry aligning on HTML5, the effort required in doing both won't be as cumbersome as it is now. One thing's for sure, software developers shall be forced to adapt and take advantage of HTML5. At the moment, we've been seeing a lot of inquiries from the market asking for an app/mobile website project.
Bottom line is, developers will find a way to streamline their processes and a toolkit to develop mobile applications using web technologies will eventually play a key role. Native App developers are fairly hard to source, HTML5 powered apps provide a better roadmap. I'm betting on that."
Michael Hamlin, a brand strategy guru pointed out the current mobile trend in the local scene:
"Smart phone penetration in the Philippines is growing, but is still low. That suggests in the short term, apps should be the priority, particularly for firms with limited resources."
Lastly, here's an opinion, from the perspective of a native iOS app developer Charles Uy,
"1) native apps allow more integration with the device (more features for the app)
2) native apps look and perform better than their web app counterparts 90% of the time (due mostly to 1)).
I don't see this changing as developments on the native development environment outpace web technologies used for mobile devices (think how many versions of iOS or Android will there have been when HTML5 as a standard becomes widely adopted and supported).
That being the case, all the reasons for having mobile optimized web applications still hold true. (cheaper, cross-platform, easier to maintain, etc).
I agree with Mr. Forrester's opinion on targeting both spaces."
Learning from the opinions of the experts, we should also take into considerations some factors on developing mobile and web apps:
1. mobile app should be engaging enough otherwise, it only defeats it's own purpose, likewise, web apps should be optimized well for the mobile.
2. incase for limited resources, they may opt to try one app first based on their immediate needs.
3. local and global trends should also be taken into consideration
4. as time goes by, trend will always evolve and as HTML5 is changing the game, we can see shift towards web apps or hybrid apps can also flourish.
Would love to hear more opinions. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
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