This is the question we hear the most. We hope that this article will help you to make the right choice.
Theoretically, everything can be done on the web, and that would be the ideal world for all developers and marketers. However, until now all the sound HTML5 initiatives to bring this ideal world closer to reality have completely or partially failed. And so, for every internet business there is still a decision to be made as to build a mobile-friendly website, or simply an app. BeKitzur has been in the mobile apps business since 2008. We have built and ran mobile products ourselves, and have helped dozens of clients build and maintain their mobile businesses. Below we have tried to summarize our experiences and provide the information that can help you in make your Web vs. App decision:
Pros & Cons
Pros and Cons charts are always simple
Most of the time is spent in Apps, so for some type of businesses mobile web delivers as well.
Types of Apps
If your product…
- Is a game
- Provides offline functionality (like a utility or book library)
- Requires use of GPS, contact list, camera, or accelerometer
Build an App!
When it comes to news, information and other content driven sites, there’s a data suggesting that the mobile web is key. According to the Pew Research Center, 60% of tablet users prefer reading news on the mobile web rather than via an app. You can enrich the page with all the features you would usually find on the the web like social interactions, payments, dynamic elements and so, build a rich media site that provides the native app experience. And so, anything that is not 1, 2 or 3 can be made on the web.
Building and Testing
Building a mobile-friendly website is much simpler than building an app. There are more and cheaper HTML5 professionals than iOS & Android ones. There are more open-source, commercial libraries, and products that can be used to speed up the development process. When it comes to testing and organizing focus groups, the web is the winner. It is still a struggle to distribute a non-public iOS version, and it is a growing complexity to make an Android build for 1000+ android running devices. On the web, all you need is a URL.
Web is cheaper and quicker!
On the distribution side of the business, the AppStores became too crowded, and don’t provide the exposure that the older apps benefit from. So getting users to notice and use your product might be easier through tested web marketing strategies and tools rather than through new developing apps distribution channels with costly CPI campaigns and unclear performance metrics. For the same marketing budget, you will bring more users to your mobile web site than to your mobile app.
Web is easier to market!
User Behavior and Preferences
Users are less reluctant to check a new web-site than to install, open and test a new app: we are talking about content-driven products. The next step is to retain this user. The average probability that a user will get back to the installed app is still higher than getting back to the bookmarked page in the mobile web browser. The “Add to Home Screen” feature brings the web bookmarks one step closer to the user. On PCs, the browser bookmarks have won the battle over desktop icons. It is reasonable to expect that the same will happen on mobile screens, but you need to start running your business today, so user retention is a consideration that needs to be taken into account for the app vs. web decision.
User experience and retention is much better for Native Apps!
Cost & Time to Build
iPhone and Android (Samsung Galaxy + similar phones) content app with user accounts and payments costs about $100K, takes 8-12 weeks for development, and 2-4 weeks for testing.
Mobile Web cost about $30K, takes 6-10 weeks for development, and 1-2 weeks for testing.
- Building a Mobile App for games, utilities, apps with offline features, and B2C apps where slick and fascinating consumer experience is a key.
- Starting with a mobile web site for everything else. Test it, get it to the market and change it as many times as you’d like. Then evaluate web vs. app again.