Mobile Web versus Apps and the Appstore: What’s right for a small business?
Many of our SMB clients are talking to us about mobile apps for internal savings and external sales growth. Yet few companies have carefully considered the value of mobile web versus mobile apps. Not sure what I’m referring to? Mobile web refers to websites that run and function well on a mobile phone or tablet in its web browser, while mobile apps are downloaded from an “app store” for one of the popular mobile platforms, such as the iPhone.
In choosing between mobile web and mobile apps, here’s a rule to consider: anything the web can do, an app can also do, but you will typically pay more for the development of a mobile app. If a mobile website with its limitations is sufficient for your needs, it will be an easier and less expensive route to begin with.
As a company that builds both mobile websites and mobile apps, I believe it’s fair to say that app development is – or should be – a more rigorous process, since the app integrates more closely with the mobile device’s operating system. For small businesses considering mobile apps, here’s our short list of pros for each option.
Mobile Web Advantages:
- Less costly development with a shorter deployment cycle
- Simpler upgrades and customer support
- Easier to integrate with the company’s website for support
- More platform independence – both hardware and software
- All the revenue is yours – an “app store” doesn’t take a cut
Mobile App Advantages:
- “Offline Functionality” – apps can function without an internet connection (note: data caching for apps will be the subject of a future blog post)
- Speedier interface than pure websites – usually
- “App stores” provide a presence for marketing and publicity purposes
- Built-in home screen icon and presence
- Can utilize dedicated hardware or software functionality – examples are address books, calendars, camera and flash components, etc