As technology continues to advance, making the decision between developing a mobile app or building a more traditional web-based app is not becoming easier. Both carry with them advantages not delivered by the other and unique disadvantages, as well. Considering current technology conditions and historical facts may push the decision in a specific direction.
However, ignoring future trends might end up being more detrimental in the long run. In 2013, over 200 million tablets were sold. Fifty percent of all local searches are currently performed on mobile devices. Americans, to the tune of 29%, say their mobile phone is the last thing they check every night. These numbers will only continue to grow.
There is no question that a mobile presence is necessary for today’s business climate, yet the question remains whether a web app will continue to meet the needs of consumers with advancing technologies. Web apps still maintain benefits over mobile apps in areas such as cost, update flexibility, universal compatibility, and searchability.
In time, as more users worldwide move from standard mobile phones to smartphones and tablets, the way they search and use their devices will evolve, closing the gap on some of the advantages of a web app. Mobile apps do provide advantages over web apps in certain areas. Regular usage and personalization lean to the advantage of a mobile app. The ability to provide data for complex calculations and the benefit of integration into the functionality of the mobile device also bode well for the mobile app. Though web apps are searchable and available across all platforms, they do require a connection. A mobile app has the ability to provide information and services offline.
Interestingly, only 18% of mobile media consumption is via mobile web browsers, leaving the other 82% consumed within mobile apps. While this is not the entirety of mobile usage, it is an indicator of the trends in mobile usage. Considering that it is projected that smartphone and tablet users will outnumber PC users by 2015, regardless of the advantages of web apps over native mobile apps, they are not truly advantages if consumers do not use them. Developing an effective mobile app will place a company at the forefront of technological advancement.
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