The second white paper in The MoBank Group series on Native Applications against Mobile Websites. It was republished in The Retail Bulletin. The excerpt they published is below, or you can read the full whitepaper here.
“As companies develop a mobile strategy, they are faced with the challenge of deciding what platforms to support and in what order. At the simplest level, the options available are mobile-optimised websites and native applications for specific operating systems (Apple iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7 etc). This selection ties in to two crucial issues for brands: reaching the broadest possible consumer base and ensuring those customers’ needs are anticipated and met.
Evidence suggests that both a mobile website and a native application are necessary to successfully serve the needs of customers through the mobile channel. To have one without the other is to miss the opportunity to provide a well-rounded offering that caters to different users at different times.
Conventional wisdom suggests that the mobile website is currently the preferred channel for customers to interact with brands on their phone. This information, however, presents only a partial view of the situation, and is based on factors that are subject to change. There is a greater market reach for the mobile web due to the larger number of feature phones compared with smartphones currently in use. The number of smartphones is increasing – they in fact outsold PCs in Q4 2010. The market grew 55.4% in 2010, and is predicted to grow another 24.5% in 2011. The rise of Android has fuelled this growth and enabled more accessible pricing. At the end of 2010 there were 300,000 Android devices being activated every day. Greater smartphone ownership is likely lead to greater use of applications as more consumers will have access to the application ecosystems.
Evidence suggests that users prefer different channels for different tasks. As a result, it is important for brands to provide a rounded mobile offering. Occasional users, looking to undertake simpler tasks such as product research will tend to prefer the mobile website; whereas customers looking to undertake purchases and other more complex activities are likely to favour an application. In broad terms, ubiquity and accessibility are currently the main draw of the mobile website; while branding, functionality and user experience are stronger in an application. In making these decisions, brands must not only listen to their customers but also to anticipate their needs. In The MoBank Group’s experience, ill-conceived, rushed or feature-light mobile offerings tend to be heavily criticized by users, while a longer term strategy with a high level of communication will bear fruit, even if it takes a longer upfront investment to implement.”
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