For years we’ve witnessed the number of mobile Internet users growing at a faster rate than desktop Internet users. This should come as no surprise, with this mobile first trend having been predicted by industry experts as far back as 2008.
Receiving far less attention is the internal battle of the mobile device, fought between mobile apps and the mobile web.
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Mobile Apps or Mobile Web?
If we look at the amount of time spent using them, mobile apps are the clear winners.
In 2017 the trend had already started, with ComScore data showing mobile apps were leading at 87% of mobile time, with web browsing only scoring the remaining 13%.
eMarketer followed up on this research and over the course of 2019 their data showed that the average person spends 90% of their mobile time in apps vs. the mobile web.
According to eMarketer research, users spend two hours and 11 minutes per day using mobile apps, but just 26 minutes browsing the web on a mobile device. App time made up nearly 20% of total media time in 2017.
For the first time in 2019 people will spend more time with their mobile devices than they do watching TV. Smartphones account for 70% of that mobile time and that percentage keeps growing.
“An app provides a direct access point from the home screen of a mobile device, and a native app experience is typically slicker and faster than a comparable web experience” said eMarketer principal analyst Cathy Boyle.
Apps are here to stay and, as more and more companies turn their back on the traditional mobile web, consumers’ preference for apps is only going to increase.
Let’s take a look at what has caused the number of app users to skyrocket.
Why has the world gone mobile app crazy?
1. More Features
Whilst mobile apps can make use of all the different functions on your phone, a mobile website is far more limited.
Essentially, this means a mobile app is able to offer a level of interaction far beyond the capabilities of its competitors.
GPS, camera and notifications are just some of the functions mobile apps can access, and as mobile technology develops, this list will too.
And with apps making full use of push-notifications, is it any surprise users are consuming more and more information via apps? The moment you hit publish, everyone who downloaded your app can receive a notification. A few seconds, and one tap, later and they can all be enjoying your content. The mobile web simply can’t compete with that.
2. Faster Speed
Because mobile apps are downloaded and installed on your device, users find them significantly quicker to run.
Rather than having to load up all the different images and functions — as you would with a mobile website — the app simply pulls everything up from files that already exist on the device.
With load times diminished, users have more time to sit back and enjoy the app in the way it was intended.
An added benefit of having everything downloaded is that users don’t necessarily need an Internet connection to use your app — in fact, download enough content and your app can be 100% functional offline.
Some mobile websites can be rather confusing; if a site isn’t optimised for your device, it can feel like you’re navigating a minefield.
In general, mobile apps are far more user-friendly, as the interface has been specifically designed with mobile-users in mind.
Mobile apps offer a simple layout, clear visuals and even tutorials for first-time users, all of which make using them that much easier. Providing your app users with an enjoyable experience will keep them in your app for longer periods at a time and reflect well on your business.
With an app storing your details, your usage history and your settings behind one convenient little button on your home screen, apps will always be the most convenient option. With mobile apps, users won’t need to manually login on an unfriendly mobile design everytime you want to use their favourite apps, as they can choose to remain signed in. Mobile web often doesn’t offer this level of user experience simplicity.
And, because your app can make use of the different features on your phone, an app offers the potential to centralise a number of different functions in one place, something that the mobile web doesn’t offer effectively.
5. Self Contained Environment
On the mobile web, you’re only in control of the content on your own site. The moment you link elsewhere — as you’ll be expected to — that control is gone.
With a mobile app, the developer can ensure that everything a user could possibly need is contained within the confines of the app.
When you control everything a user is able to see when using your app, it’s much easier to ensure all content is up to the standards you set yourself; from a user’s point of view, this can only be a good thing.
6. Brand Presence
When someone closes their mobile web browser, your website is gone from their mobile device.
When a user closes your mobile app, your brand remains on their device’s home screen. This means that your website visitors can be reminded of your brand, more than they would otherwise. By putting your brand in front of your website visitors or customers more often, they are more likely to open your app!
Your brand will also be present on mobile app stores such as the iOS and Android Play store. This provides an entirely new channel to raise your brand awareness, and attract new visitors and customers to your app!
Mobile apps are growing in popularity, and allow you access to new features and brand awareness that are simply not possible using only the mobile web. And, most importantly of all, people prefer using mobile apps over the mobile web!
If your brand wants to capitalize on the huge amount of mobile device usage, it makes sense to start thinking about how exactly your brand’s mobile presence can be optimised.