I was browsing the ThoseInMedia group on LinkedIn and came across this question: Mobile Sites Vs. Mobile Apps: Which Is Best For Your Business?
It made me think about what had worked and not worked in previous roles and projects and like most questions like this, its all about your digital strategy and how you monetise your content.
The main driver for me to make this decision would be to look at my business model and look at what would be the best to deliver this. Then the secondary benefits would slot in, such as deep linking, SEO, marketing etc.
Apps can be expensive to get right. I tend to look to apps if I have a sponsor that can help to fund the development of the app. In addition, it is extremely hard to make profitable apps so having a sponsor on board helps to make the app free to users and to help increase the exposure of the app.
If you do not have a sponsor and you are trying to recoup your investment through charging for your app, remember that it takes a lot of 69p/99c purchases to recoup a five figure investment. According to this report, 50% of games make less than $3k in Apple’s App Store.
If you goal is to try to increase incremental revenue – ad revenue, sales, etc – then I would go for a mobile site. You benefit from deep linking, SEO, lower costs to develop, higher accessibility to more users etc.
If you do build an app, one piece of advice would be to try to deliver something that a web or mobile site cannot do and also try to utilise the phone’s features – location, camera, etc – as this can help to really set you apart from other apps out there.
In addition, with the ever improving HTML5 standards, you can achieve many app like features through a smartphone site. There are also plenty of frameworks out there that allow you to take advantage of the device’s capabilities. Such frameworks include PhoneGap that allow web developers to deliver app like experiences through a browser. It also ensures compatibility between the main devices such as iPhone, Android and Blackberry.