Mobile apps or the mobile web? iPhone, Android or Window’s Phone 7?

Oct. 19, 2010 | by Ifraz Mughal

Research published last week by Omniture studied 1,200 people in the U.S. looking at their mobile preferences across four key consumer categories: shopping, financial services, media & entertainment and travel.

A key finding in this study has been that in reference to the mobile user experience, respondents tend to favour the mobile web over downloadable mobile apps across all four consumer categories.

Mobile apps are generally preferred when consumers approach music or social media or when they experience games and maps. When focussing on shopping and media & entertainment 66% of the people surveyed expressed a preference for mobile web browsers compared to 34% preferring mobile apps.

Mobile apps are popular but the browser experience cannot continue to be overlooked, brands need to consider engaging with mobile strategies that optimise the experience across both web and app.

In amongst all this, Windows Phone 7 has hit the shelf, perhaps better late than never. Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android have been squeezing other players, Blackberry and Nokia, out of the space and both will now have to wait to see if Microsoft will start devouring their market share. On the surface it should do just that – a user interface that looks good and is simple to use (like the iPhone) but one that is also capable of customisation (like the Android). So potentially Windows Phone 7 could disrupt the two major players. All of us like Apple’s design finish but not everyone likes it when Apple locks us into its environments – Windows Phone 7 may find a great deal of traction with certain user groups.

The other side of the coin is that developers have focussed efforts around the iPhone (300,000 apps) and Android (100,000) with both user interfaces (UI) sharing similarities and porting apps from one to the other is not too complicated. Windows Phone 7’s UI is very different and developers won’t be able to port their iPhone / Android apps.

Only time will tell whether consumers and developers start to migrate to Windows Phone 7 in significant numbers, in the meantime, brands need to consider engaging a mobile strategy that optimises experience across both mobile web and app and keep a very close eye on the take-up of Windows Phone 7.

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    Comments (7)

    • Yuk Applebaum

      Found your site on Google...Great post! I look forward to reading more from your site.Jun 11, 2011 09:09 pm

    • Ifraz Mughal

      Thanks Nuria - SEO for mobile apps. Very interesting.Oct 25, 2010 09:03 pm

    • Othello

      Very informative...wonder what the smart money is on...thanxOct 23, 2010 01:40 am

    • Nuria

      Great post Ifraz. Reading this morning about last Debenhams mobile apps. Interesting to read that compared to other retailers such as M&S, or John Lewis that recently launched mobile webs, Debenhams have released instead a mobile apps for iPhone. Some issues with mobile apps opposed to mobile web is that there are not enough categories and sub-categories to enable customers to browse the app down making really difficult to narrow your product search - brand, price, size and colour. Mobile apps can offer more functionalities compared to mobile web but don't offer any link functionality always really useful, therefore for SEO purposes one can assume that is better the use of mobile web. Another positive side about mobile apps is that they are great for rich content such as product images or video. In general, mobile webs have broader reach and are less limited by type of device and don't need to be downloaded by user catching impulsive buyers. At the same time there's no need for approval with mobile webs consequently can be instantly launched. A clear handicap for apps is that with more than 50 app stores and more than 400.000 apps, it's becoming more and more difficult not to get lost within apps libraries unless your brand/company is renowned. Soon mobile apps will need keyword optimization to be found.The app search engine is heavily reliant on keywords being broad match the most influencing one and number of downloads, but surprisingly mobile apps rankings seem completely independent of apps reviews or rates. Oct 20, 2010 05:45 pm

    • Ifraz Mughal

      @Mike & @Tim - no problem! Good to hear it's been useful.Oct 20, 2010 04:55 pm

    • Tim Aldiss

      Interesting info from Omniture - thanks for sharing Ifraz. Hopefully this will herald a new era of apps that aren't effectively just a browser in another skin.Oct 19, 2010 09:48 pm

    • mike ashworth

      Some great insights, thanks Ifraz :-)Oct 19, 2010 03:19 pm

    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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