Most companies know the need to have a mobile presence for their business. But they could not understand is, “what is the difference between a native mobile application and mobile web application and when should I choose one over the other?” At first glance, it may be difficult to distinguish a mobile web app/site from a native application, as they can look very similar in terms of what features you choose. Deciding to choose a mobile-friendly web application vs a native mobile application depends on a variety of factors such as: understanding who your target audience is, determine your budget, define your business purpose, and identify features most important to you. Learn the key differences between the two, and you know who will serve your needs the best.
Accessibility – Mobile Web application consists of web pages that have been specially formatted to look good on handheld devices, such as smart phones and tablets. It is accessible via the browser on the mobile device and requires mobile devices to have an Internet connection. In addition, mobile websites are designed to take advantage of special mobile-specific features such as location-based mapping and click-to-call features. Conversely, mobile applications that are formatted for mobile devices and tablets should be downloaded from an app store and installed on your mobile device. A mobile application can operate with or without the Internet according to the characteristics of the application.
Know Your Audience – How can you serve your target market? Make sure you understand your customers’ needs so that you treat them properly. If you are a restaurant owner, your client probably wants to be able to find you on a road trip, find the nearest restaurant if you are a chain, make a reservation, view a menu, and see if there are coupons available. On the other hand, if you want to develop a standalone application that runs without Internet or an interactive game and an app is your best bet. Studies have shown that users prefer mobile browsers for shopping, research and entertainment, so they prefer mobile applications for data management, play games, and use of productive applications.
New Customer or Loyal Consumer – He makes plays an important factor in determining whether you want an application or a mobile-friendly website. If you have a new customer who wants to learn about your business, see your offers, find, or make a call from their phone to your store or retail business, chances are they will not want to download an application on their phone to do this. Instead, they generally prefer to access a mobile-friendly website for more information or contact you. Loyal customers on the other hand (think local restaurant or coffee joint where your customer wants to order a week or even every day on the go) find an application on their phone handy and time-saving and do not hesitate to download to their mobile device because it is useful for them.
Budget – It all comes down to dollars and how get the best return on your investment. Basically, every feature a mobile-friendly web application is generally the least expensive choice. This is because usually a mobile web application takes less time to develop, maintain, and release; and generally the mobile web application is a lighter version of an existing Web application as the content is already in place.
So which is better, a native mobile application or mobile web application? The best answer really depends on your end goals. If you want to develop an interactive game or need special features that only an application can respond, then your choice is to go with the development of mobile applications. If you want to reach the largest audience with easy mobile content or create a simplified version of your existing website and a mobile web app /site is the logical choice. In many cases, you may decide that you need at a time, a mobile website to reach a wider audience without having a “call to action requirement of customers and a mobile application to manage a complex specially added component or value that can not be addressed with a custom mobile application development.
However, in general, a mobile website should be considered as a first step in developing a mobile presence, while an application is useful to develop an application for a very specific purpose that can not be effectively accomplished by via a web browser.