Mobile site vs Mobile app debate

E consultancy wrote an interesting article this week about mobile commerce and whether retailers should have a mobile app or a mobile site. Graham Charlton who wrote the article came up with arguments for having a mobile site or mobile app.

I think the mobile app market is going to become very saturated soon. Companies develop a mobile app, without really thinking what they want from a mobile app. One very good example highlighting this issue is Zara. They built the app, but there was no useful information on it and customers were unable to buy through it. Both Next and Net-A-Porter have the app, but not the mobile site. As I mentioned in my previous post, you can either build a mobile app or a mobile site.

Reasons to have a mobile app

1. Graham said that as smartphones and iPhone dominate the mobile internet, then an app is more likely to appear to users.

2. Graham said that smartphone users are more affluent. Therefore, apps will appeal to an audience with more disposable income. I disagree with this. Smartphone users are not more affluent. There are a high proportion of young people who use Blackberry and iPhones.

3. Better functionality on smartphones means retailers can offer a richer experience and therefore choose to build an app which will deliver this service.

4. The fourth point is that your app will get more visibility due to the popularity of the App store.

5. Customers have smartphones and therefore if a large number of mobile visitors are using Android and iPhones, an app may be better than a mobile site.

Reasons to have a mobile site.

1. A mobile site allows you to target a larger number of people as not everyone has a smartphone or has downloaded your app.

2. Those using their phone to search as they do on a desktop can easily find your site. The app store has thousands of apps, it is hard to find and if you do not have one, they cannot download it.

3. Unlike apps, you will not need approval of your site before it is released. It can also be updated as you update your website.

4. If you want an iPhone app, you will have to design one for the iPhone and a separate one for the Android. The mobile site can be seen on many handsets.

5. According to recent Taptu research, the browser-based mobile web market will grow much faster than the app market, so a mobile site will be necessary long term.

I agree with Graham on these issue for a mobile site. I believe companies should at least have a site optimised for all mobiles. Then if they want to and have extra budget, they can build a mobile app.

Oliver Newton at i-level wrote an article about the 7 deadly sins of marketing which I thought summed up well the mistakes companies have when trying to jump of the mobile bandwagon.

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