As mobile usage continues to gain steam, companies must decide how they want to engage their clients given that there is only so much budget to go around. Should you go mobile web or mobile app?
Flurry just released new data that indicates users are now spending 2 hours and 42 minutes per day, up from 2 hours 38 minutes per day last year, using their iOS and Android devices. Native mobile app usage accounts for 2 hours and 20 minutes of that time spent, while mobile web usage dropped from 20 percent of the U.S. consumer’s time in 2013 to just 14 percent – or 22 minutes per day – as of last month.
In a blog post on Flurry’s website, the company’s CEO, Simon Khalaf, writes that the changes indicate that the mobile browser has become just “a single application swimming in a sea of apps.”
Does that mean you’re wasting your money if you spend it on developing for the mobile web instead of developing an app? We don’t believe so.
First, although the Flurry stats clearly favor mobile apps, as TechCrunch points out in its summary of the analysis, “the company is combining data from different sources with different methodologies here, so take that as you may.”
Also, every company has unique needs, and shouldn’t dismiss mobile web solutions out of hand. There are situations when mobile web is the best choice for marketing your business, promoting your brand, or engaging your customers. And most businesses need a comprehensive mobile solution that includes both mobile apps and mobile web. In addition, developing a mobile website can be less costly than developing an iOS and/or Android app.
Consider, for instance, that among the various types of apps, the most used of all are gaming apps. Those capture 32 percent of users’ time, according to Flurry. But some companies are engaging their customers with mobile games built on the web: Playing them doesn’t require installing an app, they bring the customer to your website where you can offer an upsell, and they’re easier to share with friends via link in an email or social message.
Flurry’s survey shows that use of social and messaging applications has risen slightly from 24 percent to 28 percent of users’ time. Within that category, Facebook continues to suck up more users’ time than any app; in fact, Flurry says Facebook’s position was strengthened by the acquisition of Instagram, and that it could even be “cemented, if not increased” with its newly acquired WhatsApp.
One thing is clear: no one app or company has a stranglehold on the mobile marketplace. While Google and Facebook apps are well established, Khalaf writes that, combined, those companies’ apps “probably command less than 25 percent of the total time spent by the average U.S. mobile consumer.” In fact, he says, the market “still hasn’t consolidated and over the past couple of years we have seen new franchises emerge in almost every sector of mobile.”