According to Cisco, by the end of 2013, mobile Internet devices will outnumber humans. In the US, 25% of Internet users are mobile only. It is ostensible that a shift from a traditional desktop – Internet experience to a mobile device is furiously underway. Mobile is disrupting many industries, and creating efficiencies within the industry. Health and fitness is an industry that is growing as a result of the mobile experience.
Companies entering the mobile market must choose a path to deploy their mobile presence. Wells Fargo, Starbucks, Quicken are examples of companies that use mobile to extend the user experience to the mobile device. The app for these companies does not generate revenue but rather creates value through convenience and brand extension. Juxtapose are companies that are app centric where the app is the business and revenue is created by the app using one of the traditional revenue models; in-app purchase, freemium, advertisements.
The goal of companies extending their business to mobile is generally to enhance the user experience. There are two options, 1) develop a mobile app 2) develop a website for the mobile browser. The decision to build a native app or a mobile website depends on business goals. If the goal is to build an interactive game, stream music, or leverage hardware features on the phone, such as the camera and accelerometer, the app is the best option. If the goal is to offer mobile-friendly content across every mobile device and to reach the most people, a mobile website is the best option.
The benefits of a Mobile Website
Device Agnostic – the mobile experience is in the browser, it generally works across all devices. One mobile website will work on IOS, Android, Microsoft and Blackberry. A mobile app has to be developed for each mobile operating system.
Engagement – a mobile website is instantly accessible in the mobile browser. An app must be downloaded and installed. This takes time, creates a boundary, and there is the potential to lose the user due to a lack of immediate engagement.
Upgrades – upgrading a mobile website is seamless, transparent, and generally there is no impact to the end user. Upgrading a mobile app has become a huge inconvenience, requires user interaction, downtime, and seems to occur way too often. An app used across multiple devices and operating systems MUST be updated on each device.
Longevity – most mobile apps have a shelf life of 30 days and an engagement of less than 2-3 days before it is ignored or deleted. Mobile websites can’t be deleted, can be bookmarked, and can be presented as an icon on the mobile device.
Cost – a mobile app needs to be developed for each mobile operating system and mobile form factor. IOS, Apple’s operating system requires the app to be configured for the iPhone 4 & 5 and both Ipad form factors. In addition, there is Microsoft, Android, and Blackberry… Each change to the operating system requires costly changes and updates to the app.
Reach – A mobile website has a greater reach since it is cross-platform compatible and can be accessed and indexed by search engines.
We believe a mobile website is a logical first step for a company extending the web presence to mobile. There is value in the mobile app for a specific purpose that is not available to the mobile website. Leveraging the camera and accelerometer is popular with health and fitness apps, which a mobile website cannot use. These two features are important and impact the decision to choose app or website.
We recently released the Addaero Solo mobile website. Our decision to release a website instead of an app was a combination of a number of factors, many listed earlier in this post. Our research mirrors the mobile industry research with 25% of our users accessing Addaero classic on a mobile device. IOS and Android are the primary mobile operating systems with a small number of Blackberry and Microsoft mobile users.
Based on research and looking at Addaero user interaction, and business goals, we believe the mobile website experience is the most beneficial for our user. This allows Addaero to reach a larger user base, develop new features faster, avoid costly updates, and increase access and flexibility.
Addaero has an extensive product roadmap, and we are rolling out new features each week. We feel there is value in the mobile app experience, mainly around leveraging native phone functionality. When, and if it makes sense Addaero Solo will have a mobile app.
Enjoy mobile: mobile.addaero.com