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Mobile App or Mobile Site?

As businesses clamor to establish their brand presence in the increasingly popular mobile channel, the foremost question that must be answered is whether to build a mobile app or a mobile site. Hopefully the following information will provide some initial guidance and initiate further discourse on which path allows eCommerce companies the greatest benefit to connect with the largest amount of consumers while extracting the maximum value of their investment.

Each platform has distinct advantages but the decision may rest on content type. Increasing sophistication of mobile browsers and the increasing support for HTML 5, will allow easier creation of robust user experience on mobile sites without having to develop platform-specific apps. Some forms of content, such as games and entertainment will naturally gravitate toward mobile apps where a rich user experience is necessary.

According to recent reports, 19% of the mobile sites measured were Shopping and Services sites; compared to 3.6% in the same category for mobile apps. Mobile Commerce (mCommerce) services are more likely to take advantage of browser-based mobile sites than gaming and entertainment providers where content is better delivered as an app. Understandably, mCommerce currently dominates on mobile sites considering its reach as opposed to developing OS-specific applications that may not be useable by a vast slice of prospective customers.

Industry analysts expect the browser-based mobile site market to grow much faster than the app market, although both continue to see substantial growth as adoption and demand continue to rise annually. This is partially due to the increased presence of better mobile devices; it is estimated that Apple will sell 36 million iPhones worldwide in 2010 with Droid ostensibly outpacing that on a monthly basis.

Some research has shown that the future of the mobile channel is likely to be dominated by cross-platform browser-based mobile sites—rather than mobile apps built specifically for iPhone, Android, or any other platform. Consider that rolling out mCommerce services across multiple mobile OS-specific applications is not easily achieved due to a host of technical and perhaps financial barriers, whereas mobile sites provides an easier migration of existing desktop ecommerce infrastructure.

Whichever path companies decide to pursue, device sites or apps have to be complimentary to other channels. Trellist is helping our eCommerce clients create complimentary mobile versions of their online stores to generate revenue in this important channel. We’re also developing strategies for mobile applications that will increase brand loyalty and revenues.

How are you addressing the question of mobile site or mobile app? We’d like to know.

About Trellist

Trellist is a professional services firm delivering performance-driven business solutions that are flexible, innovative and optimized to maximize efficiency and return. The firm consults on, and integrates, data with marketing, design, technology and digital services for clients at the global, national and regional level. Trellist utilizes a unique approach to business—from the firm’s employee-shared structure, to how it partners with its clients. 

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