Mobile phones are the new frontier of the internet. In a world where mobile devices, which are essentially small handheld computers, outnumber persons, many business people wonder how to best optimize the new platform for their business. One of the first questions that many entrepreneurs ask is if it makes more sense for a business to develop a mobile website or mobile application (or app). There is no easy answer to that question; it depends on the business. Below is useful information that can help any business person decide what makes the most sense for his/her business.
What is a mobile app?
A mobile application is software that is designed to operate on a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device. Apps are downloaded from a particular operating system’s store (for example; Windows Phone Store or Google Play). Apps are downloaded from a store to a target device. Apps can greatly increase the functionality of a smartphone.
What is a mobile website?
A mobile website is similar to any other website in that it consists of browser-based HTML pages that are linked together and accessed over the Internet (for mobile typically WiFi or 3G or 4G networks). The obvious characteristic that distinguishes a mobile website from a standard website is the fact that it is designed for the smaller handheld display and touch-screen interface.
Benefits of a Mobile Website:
Compatibility is simple – Mobile websites only need to be developed once. Mobile Apps require software development for each mobile platform. Android, iOS and Blackberry each have their own protocols which require businesses to complete redundant software development or to ignore certain platforms and lose potential users of the app. HTML has the advantage of working on all mobile web browsers.
Easier to find than Apps – In order for a person to find an app they must looking in a location where apps can be sold. This seriously hurts the potential of many businesses because it makes it more difficult to find the app. Mobile websites have the benefit of being listed in search engine results. Search engine listings make it possible for potential customers to find a website that they never knew existed. Apps require that a person must be specifically searching for them.
Virality/Shareability – Mobile websites make it easy to share content on mobile and traditional platforms. Information can be shared with URL and hyperlinks. This makes it easy to share via email and SMS. Content within apps, by nature, cannot be shared this way.
The Advantage of Mobile Apps
Mobile devices now outnumber human beings. They can be your next best marketing tool in promoting an E-commerce business. Two ways your message can be communicated is via a mobile website or via a mobile app. These are the pluses of apps:
Better User Experience
Complete mobile device integration decreases the number of glitches and slowdowns in the code. Apps are written in “native code,” the technical language of a particular platform; such as the Rim Blackberry OS, iPhone OS, Windows Mobile, Android, or MeeGo, the use of native code allows the app to run with high performance, quality and speed.
Site loading speeds are always very important. This is could not be more true on mobile device; which are often subject to slow speeds as a result of overburdened networks. Loading speed for apps can be almost 2x as fast as mobile websites because apps have relevant information/code saved on the mobile device. This code supports action-packed 3D games and resource-hungry applications that rely heavily on touch. The code behind this rich user experience is too heavy to download on the internet.
A primary advantage of mobile apps is people spend more time on them, almost 4X more time and growing as they get better and better. The downside is that 1 in 4 people who download an app only use them once.
Offline As Well As Online Access
If a business has customers who may not always have access to the internet then an app is the a great solution for a lot of logistical problems. An app can let a banker read the Wall Street Journal on the subway during his commute. Apps make it possible to preload data for later use. Now a farmer can access crop data from a remote field.
Apps can integrate a camera and geo-location service to create a very functional software. Websites are not as effective as apps at using the information available from the mobile device to make a better user experience.