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Mobile App vs Mobile Web?

Which approach pays higher dividends, if you have to pick one - building a native mobile app or mobile web. I am leaning towards responsive site that can be accessed for any device (desktops, tablets, phones, etc). The app approach only solves part of the problem.

25 Replies

Aleksandra Czajka
8
1
Aleksandra Czajka Entrepreneur
Freelance Senior Software Engineer, Developer, Web Developer, Programmer - Full Stack
All depends on what you are doing, Asad. is it a prototype, MVP? does it need any native functionality? does it need to access the phone's features? are the features the main parts of the idea? then it needs to be native.

web apps are easier and faster to build and you can access them on any device.

how is your target audience going to find you? will they be app store surfers? will they be internet surfers?

lots of questions to answer before you start asking that question.

Best,
Aleks
1
0
X
Entrepreneur

I agree with Aleks. If you need app features and/or expect that to be your key marketing channel then that forces the question; otherwise a responsive web app will have the broadest reach with one interface (and if things are engineered well, adding native apps that share the backend should be possible later).

The one clear wrong answer (these days) is a non-mobile-friendly web app. Optimize (and test!!) your web app on phones & tablets.

-- Glenn
David Fridley
0
0
David Fridley Entrepreneur
Founder at Synaccord
Asad, I am also using the webapp approach. If you don't need to access specific things in the hardware, and don't require too tightly coupled a user interface then a webapp gets you bigger market penetration with your initial development. Also you can look to tools like Cordova / Phonegap to take your web app and make an app-store app out of it. And the theory is to design for the small screen first. Which is right, but unfortunately you end up seeing a lot of wasted space on the big screen (desktop) and so your second iteration will probably have to take that into account. I'm still in development though. Best of luck! David.
Lalit Sarna
0
0
Lalit Sarna Entrepreneur • Advisor
Business & Technology Leader
In addition to the answers above , your user acquisition channels may have a big impact.

Depending how you acquire traffic, its highly likely that most folks will check your mobile web page before they download your app.


Florian Pestoni
3
0
Florian Pestoni Entrepreneur
CEO at Axzo Digital
I think it's probably best to think of this in terms of 2 considerations: user experience and customer funnel. Native apps tend to be more sticky and offer a richer experience (gross generalization). It also allows you to leverage the app stores for customer acquisition, although getting noticed is a challenge. I agree with Lalit that having a native app may still require a website, but in that case it may be just as a gateway to the app download experience, eg landing page selling benefits.

In our case, we built a quick POC as a responsive app, and we were able to get good mileage out of it with potential customers and investors as a functional demo that helped make our vision more tangible. We are now building a mobile app (using Cordova as somebody else suggested), but it's much more than just a website re-packaged as an app.




Dirk de Kok
0
0
Dirk de Kok Advisor
Founder and CTO Mobtest
In the end you will want a native app, user experience is way better. If your product is highly content based and not functional, you might get some good responses from a mobile/responsive web site

Don't expect users to understand you have limited resources, they will expect the best
Juan Posada
1
0
Juan Posada Entrepreneur • Advisor
Technology executive, startup advisor and entrepreneur. Also a garage tinkerer and maker movement supporter.
In order to provide a more meaningful answer it would be helpful to understand what your business is (or will be) and what your definition is of "higher dividends".

You have already gotten some good thoughts on how to frame the problem in terms of customer funnel and user experience/features.

I would add a couple more dimensions that are already implicit but imho deserve to be called out specifically. One is who your target customers are and what kind of devices they use, and the other one is your monetization. There are wide disparities between in terms of utilization, conversion, and profitability per user across different platforms and form factors, so take that into account.

I was intimately involved with mobile for a global ecommerce brand that anyone on this list would recognize and can tell you that you would be shocked by the way in which certain platforms and even specific devices over or under indexed in any of these metrics.

If you have more specific questions I will do my best to answer them.
Adam Cadieux
0
0
Adam Cadieux Entrepreneur
VP of Software Development at Surfdash
I would suggest building a prototype mobile app first. It will be cheaper and easier.

If you can, put as much business logic into JavaScript (I suggest using AngularJS), and access you back-end using an API.

Once you are relatively happy with the results. You can use Adobe Cordova to compile it into a native mobile app for both ios and andriod. What is really cool about Cordova, is that it also give you access to the phone other resources like the camera. gps etc. And it's free.

I am just finishing a contract with a company that was using this setup, and they have some really impress results.

Hope that helps,

Adam

Nitesh Shah PMP, CSM
3
0
Nitesh Shah PMP, CSM Entrepreneur
Sr. Project Manager and Onsite Coordinator at Endeavour Software Technologies (a Genpact Company)
One more factor which would help you decide between mobile app and mobile web is offline accessibility of your app or some of the feature.

If there is any feature within your app which you would like your consumers to have access even if they are offline (no internet) then answer is mobile app.
Asad Shaikh
0
0
Asad Shaikh Entrepreneur
AWS/NoSQL/Big Data Architect at Capital One
Thanks to all of you for the invaluable advice. The solution that I am working on would really use very limited features from the mobile device if any.

1. Which format would be easy to market? For the mobile web, SEO can be employed to get exposure in the Search engines; however, I am assuming, mobile app world does not have an SEO, if true, how do people find apps, just by doing search on the mobile app.

2. My experience comes from the web, so I am not sure the cost of converting a mobile app to web app or vice versa. At the end, I would like to have both, but I do not know the best approach to get there.

3. For the same features, has anyone done cost comparison (to build) for mobile app vs mobile web?

4. Which solution (mobile app vs mobile web) would bring maximum subscribers, I am thinking of many people who still do not have smart phones in the US.

5. Is there a website where I can find vendors who only work on the mobile solutions (app or web), I only know of guru, elance, freelancer, etc?

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