Should your business use a Native App or a Mobile Web App?

It’s no secret that the computer world is going mobile. We can do more on the go that we’ve ever been able to before, and the trend won’t slow down anytime soon.  In fact, In late 2010, there were more smartphone devices shipped than the combined global market of desktop and laptop computers.  That happened two years before analysts predicted it would occur.  And the trend is only getting bigger.  Analysts have predicted again that “mobile phones will overtake PC’s as the most common Web access devices worldwide by 2013.  Just take a look around  & see how many people have their faces buried in their mobile device. The devices are getting smaller & smaller & computing power is getting bigger.

The mobile trend is more than just selling smartphones.  It’s about brands & businesses that are taking advantage of the mobile web space.  The ones who have got on board have experienced a massive increase in awareness and sales directly connected to their mobile presence.  For example, in June of 2011, PayPal reported it has seen up to $10 million in mobile payments per day and has set its expectations of over $3 billion in mobile payments in all of 2011.   Another important fact that your business needs to consider is mobile users visit an average of 24 websites per day, and the top 50 sites on the web only account  for about %40 of all mobile visits.

So the bottom line is if your company has not gone mobile yet, you need to start soon to stay ahead of your competition.  In fact, your brand is already part of the mobile arena, whether you like it or not.  Every day there are visitors interacting with your brand on a mobile device, The main question you need to ask yourself is how can I engage them properly?

Native Applications vs. Mobile Web Application

Native applications run directly on the mobile device for which they were built, without the need for a standard web browser.  These apps are typically installed from a centralized app store and downloaded and stored on the device for easy access.

The good

  • Typically very fast
  • They can interact with other parts of the mobile device
  • Built in marketing

The drawbacks:

  • You are forcing users to take the time to download yet another app & add it to their already crowded home screen
  • Expensive & time consuming to develop & there is ongoing maintenance
  • Approval restrictions & a high cost of development

Web Application is an application that is accessed by users over a network such as the internet.  Web applications are popular due to the ubiquity of web browsers, and the convenience of using a web browser as a client, sometimes called a thin client. The ability to update and maintain web applications without distributing and installing software on potentially thousands of client computers is a key reason for their popularity, as is the inherent support for cross-platform compatibility.

The good:

  • Lives on the web
  • Accessible from a browser
  • Written in a Web language (html/css/js)
  • Rapid deployment & update control
  • Assessable across different device platforms and distributed typically free of charge
  • Relativity inexpensive to build vs. a Native app


The chances are you have never heard of a Mobile Web App.  Most everybody is familiar with a native app & not familiar with a mobile web app.  Don’t let that scare you!  Once you do your research on the two you can make an educated decision on what your business should do.

Studies have shown that games, social networking, lifestyle and entertainment, technology and gadgets, and travel and local category apps, tend to prefer the native approach.
Web apps are dominated by news and weather publishers, who either only support a Web application or offer both. We know this because many major publishers with origins in both print media and broadcast have shown strong interest in the study results. Similarly, other categories such as communications, financial services, retail and shopping, where iterative design and user analytics are more relevant, may also prefer the Web approach.
There is no particular category of organization that chooses to launch both native and Web apps – the main consideration is: can you afford it?