To app or not to app. That is the question many brands struggle with in these digital days. They know they need to go mobile. But what they don’t know is whether they should go all out and build an app? Or is a simple website, optimized for the mobile Web, enough?
A new study from Adobe’s Omniture Business Unit might have the answer: Mobile users like apps when all they want is a self-contained experience, like a game. When they want the freedom to chart their own course, they prefer mobile Web experiences.
Omniture measured the preferences and behaviors of 1,200 mobile users in four key consumer categories: products and shopping, financial services, media and entertainment, and travel. In all four categories, users leaned toward experiences mediated through the browser of the mobile Web. In the shopping and media categories, for example, 66% of users said they prefered accessing content via the mobile Web, compared with 34% who preferred apps. The exceptions to the rule: Social media, games, and other mini-experiences, like maps, in which cases they prefered apps.
It makes sense. An app is a mini-world. You’re limited to what the creator has built for you. Want to play a game? Fine. Rent a movie? All good. Maintain a shopping list, check CNN’s latest headlines, or remotely turn on the lights and heat in your house half an hour before you get home? An app’s your guy. But when your ultimate objective isn’t so clear cut, when you’re operating in uncertainty and ambiguity, like when you want to figure out which flat-screen TV to buy or where to eat, you don’t want to be walled in. Instead, you need the freedom to roam that only a browser-based experience can provide.