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Mobile App versus Web App?

Thanks to my good friends from Ad Workshop/Inphorm in Lake Placid, New York for this blog post.  They are fellow members of the Alliance of Marketing Communications Agencies, which held a meeting recently in San Diego, California.

In this day and age, with Smart phones and other “Smart” devices flooding the market, the number of “apps” (applications) and mobile sites being downloaded is skyrocketing at a breakneck pace. As a matter of fact, our advertising agency in upstate New York came across this Cellular News post in October stating that: “Smartphone users are now the majority of mobile browser and applications users in the US. “

At our agency, the same businesses that were saying a year ago “we need a mobile site!” are now starting to think “we need an app!”, yet may not be aware of what details are involved in developing one or the other. Apps are generally easy to download, but research by Pinch Media shows that unless the app is a game, “less than 5 percent of downloaded apps continue to be used 20 days after being downloaded.” That means that the life cycle of your app has run its course in under three weeks, which loosely translates to a wasted investment.

Mobile web’s development costs are lower (no need to develop an app for different platforms such as iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc. etc. etc.) and it will be much easier for your site to be findable by using any of the search engines.

One positive thing that our agency has noticed about an app is that the user is still able to use all their device capabilities like GPS, address book, calendar and pictures. With Mobile web, access to those device features is limited without closing the browser. In addition, Adworkshop’s website design team has noticed that the performance of an app is quite high compared to some mobile sites because the code runs locally on the user’s device.

However, many signs seem to point toward mobile web. Besides the lower development costs, there are no “additional costs” tacked on, such as entry costs, which some app stores charge with each upgrade. Plus, you don’t need to share any sales revenues as a result of someone using your mobile website (app stores can take up to a 30 percent cut of your revenue!). Also, anyone on the web has access to your mobile site, whereas with an app, you are again relying on the app stores policies and procedures on how many users can download and install the app.

Some feel that apps are temporary; others feel they are here to stay. There are conflicting opinions all over the place.
Adworkshop encourages you to do some research or consult a destination marketing expert at our New York tourism marketing agency when deciding if now is the time to go mobile with either an app or mobile web. There are many articles online that are quite informative, and Adworkshop’s Insight Blog is keeping up to date.

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