Web based mobile app VS iPhone app

18 replies
Has anyone else had to make the decision between creating a web based app and an iPhone app for a content based site?

What did the company want?

I've been reading a lot about the mobile web and I'm coming to the conclusion that every news website should simply work in a small browser rather than the visitor having to download an 'App'.

This article on Reuters.com backs this up:
FT Web-based app more popular than app sold in Apple store | Reuters

More than 700,000 people use the Financial Times' Web-based mobile application to access news and other content, making it more popular than the version sold in Apple's App Store.

The business newspaper, which is part of British publishing group Pearson Plc, made a gamble in June when it prepared to ditch the App Store with the introduction of its Web-based app.

The FT was one of the first major publishers to reduce its dependence on Apple Inc and go out with an HTML5-based mobile application that can be read by any browser, thus bypassing the App Store.
Obviously Apple wants every big site to be heavily featured in there App store..

Any opinions?
#app #based #iphone #mobile #web
  • Profile picture of the author WillR
    I've said this a few times and I will say it again, who really wants to have their phone full of all these different web apps when they can instead just have a list of bookmarks in their browser? If a company has a mobile version of their website I'd be much happier bookmarking and using that rather than download their app and adding even more clutter to my phone.

    Obviously a lot of people out there agree. HTML5 is much smarter and is not limited to just the one type/brand of device.
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  • Profile picture of the author Joe Motion
    Exactly, but people are still creating these shiny iPhone Apps.

    I can understand magazines having them - especially when used on the iPad.
    The Economist on the iPad: Perfect - (37signals)
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  • Profile picture of the author monicad
    I whole heartedly agree with you, Will. I've been ranting about it on the forum all evening. Yes, there are even stats to back this up - check out this article on why web apps will eventually overtake native apps - Survey Results: Mobile Web Has More Users While Mobile Apps See Higher Engagement | Mobile Marketing Watch
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  • Profile picture of the author jvp
    I get this question a lot from clients: Should they build a native app or web based app?

    My answer is usually "It depends." What approach you take is heavily dependent on target audience and budget.

    The stat you are referencing is misleading. Although they have 700,000 users of their web-based app, this is across all mobile platforms. With Android owning roughly 60% of the mobile market and only a percentage of iphone users installing their app, it makes sense that their web app is getting more traffic.

    I personally recommend native apps for a number of reasons:

    - Native apps can take better advantage of the phone's hardware. Apple has already shown that they limit the processing power dedicated to javascript in mobile Safari.

    - Caching on native apps is not as limited as it is with web apps.

    - Greater ways of monetization

    - Long term product development is not as limited (can integrate external hardware support, barcode scanning)

    - Native apps can be found in the app stores, increasing exposure from just website traffic.

    This debate is very common but a third argument can be made that it would be best to utilize both approaches if the budget allows.


    There are ton of points we can touch on but to keep it simple and consider...

    How many native android/iphone apps do you have?

    How many web apps do you have saved to your phone's dashboard?
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    • Profile picture of the author TWalker
      Originally Posted by jvp View Post


      How many native android/iphone apps do you have?

      How many web apps do you have saved to your phone's dashboard?
      As few as possible native apps.

      It is only very recently that "web apps" have come into peoples awareness so very few users even know the difference between a web app and a native app.

      I have said for a while even a mobile site is an "app" it is an application of information onto a mobile device. I am so glad to see it coming into others awareness.

      I would much rather have a "bookmark" on my dashboard than a full application downloaded and installed taking up space.

      Google has been successful using this model of putting applications online and not downloadable for a damn good reason. It is the future.
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  • Profile picture of the author jvp
    Those are great points. My post wasn't meant to knock any personal preference only explain the benefits of native app development. I'm in this business to make money and native apps make a lot.

    As an example, I have an ad-supported free app and a pro version without ads. The free version is download in greater numbers but my conversion rate to the pro version is pretty good. Yesterday the free version had 1.8 million adsense impressions, 17,400 clicks, and sold 1,200 paid versions. There is no way I could expect that from a web app. Even Google has built out native apps.

    We are all very smart when it comes to technology. Most people with an iphone or android know of no other way to download an "app" other than the app store (or marketplace). I also cannot charge a user to save a bookmark of my web app. I either have to monetize the web app through a web service or with advertising.

    The app store isn't going anywhere. It is so successful that Apple now has the Mac App Store, even if it is just a marketing channel for mac applications.

    I do a lot of competitive research and download a ton of apps. Currently, I have 171 apps installed on my iphone and it's only taking up 3.3 GB.

    Coming from a web development background, I had no idea how to create software. It was almost better that way since I had to rely on my outsourcing skills to get way I am now.
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    • Profile picture of the author Daniel LaRusso
      With stats like that, you have GOT to post a link to your app. What is it?

      Originally Posted by jvp View Post

      Those are great points. My post wasn't meant to knock any personal preference only explain the benefits of native app development. I'm in this business to make money and native apps make a lot.

      As an example, I have an ad-supported free app and a pro version without ads. The free version is download in greater numbers but my conversion rate to the pro version is pretty good. Yesterday the free version had 1.8 million adsense impressions, 17,400 clicks, and sold 1,200 paid versions. There is no way I could expect that from a web app. Even Google has built out native apps.

      We are all very smart when it comes to technology. Most people with an iphone or android know of no other way to download an "app" other than the app store (or marketplace). I also cannot charge a user to save a bookmark of my web app. I either have to monetize the web app through a web service or with advertising.

      The app store isn't going anywhere. It is so successful that Apple now has the Mac App Store, even if it is just a marketing channel for mac applications.

      I do a lot of competitive research and download a ton of apps. Currently, I have 171 apps installed on my iphone and it's only taking up 3.3 GB.

      Coming from a web development background, I had no idea how to create software. It was almost better that way since I had to rely on my outsourcing skills to get way I am now.
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      • Profile picture of the author jvp
        I'd rather not share which app those numbers are from. I was just using it as an example of the profits in native apps.

        It wasn't easy to get it to this point and the product continued to evolve over the last year. It's important that whatever approach you take, you have a product plan in place.
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        • Profile picture of the author Daniel LaRusso
          I'm not saying that I don't believe you, but those numbers are VERY extraordinary, and if I had stats like that, I'd be jumping all over the place to show people. That would mean even more exposure for me.

          I could say that my NCIS Trivia app gets 5,000 downloads a day, and it doesn't make it true. I wish it were, but those numbers you gave are in the stratospheres of number of downloads and clicks on ads.

          Originally Posted by jvp View Post

          I'd rather not share which app those numbers are from. I was just using it as an example of the profits in native apps.

          It wasn't easy to get it to this point and the product continued to evolve over the last year. It's important that whatever approach you take, you have a product plan in place.
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          • Profile picture of the author jvp
            Attached todays stats to prove I'm very serious. But no need to jump up and down. I'm currently trying to figure out how to get the free version to make even more.

            I'm happy to help anyone in their quest for the same level of success.
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            • Profile picture of the author Daniel LaRusso
              I'm going to PM you. You 'da man!

              Originally Posted by jvp View Post

              Attached todays stats to prove I'm very serious. But no need to jump up and down. I'm currently trying to figure out how to get the free version to make even more.

              I'm happy to help anyone in their quest for the same level of success.
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              It is unwise to trust all you read on the internet.
              - Benjamin Franklin

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              • Profile picture of the author thriftgirl62
                Originally Posted by imback View Post

                I think the web based app will work for companies that do not update or perform a lot of social networking.

                I believe and the results prove once you get the user to download a real app. They use it WAY MORE than the web based app.

                CHAD
                How can any kind of web/cloud "app" or native "app" refer to a mobile website if it doesn't DO anything except what the mobile website already does? That's why nothing is ever what it seems but everything is always what it is. It is a mobile website.

                Promotional iphone/android apps are called mobile web apps. They are downloaded and connect to social networking, stream live audio, live TV, video, RSS feeds, Geo-coupon deals, Maps, QR Codes, Instant News Updates, etc... and they don't need approval from anyone to distribute. You can submit them to the marketplaces for people to buy or download free but you don't have to.

                They are used for promoting a company, brand, event, holiday, person, selling products, special deals, coupon codes or anything else you can think of to promote or drive traffic to your website, event or place of business. The content can be updated instantly on everyone's phone any time you want. The design/logo can also be updated but that requires an update to the phone which is done automatically the next time the application is opened.


                Originally Posted by Daniel LaRusso View Post

                I'm not saying that I don't believe you, but those numbers are VERY extraordinary, and if I had stats like that, I'd be jumping all over the place to show people. That would mean even more exposure for me.

                I could say that my NCIS Trivia app gets 5,000 downloads a day, and it doesn't make it true. I wish it were, but those numbers you gave are in the stratospheres of number of downloads and clicks on ads.
                "REAL" apps people are used to hearing about DO more than just promote something. That's why they cost more and that's why they cannot be easily updated without interfering with what the app DOES.
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  • Profile picture of the author imback
    I think the web based app will work for companies that do not update or perform a lot of social networking.

    I believe and the results prove once you get the user to download a real app. They use it WAY MORE than the web based app.


    CHAD
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    • Profile picture of the author TWalker
      Originally Posted by imback View Post

      I think the web based app will work for companies that do not update or perform a lot of social networking.

      I believe and the results prove once you get the user to download a real app. They use it WAY MORE than the web based app.


      CHAD
      I believe that. I'm looking at it from another angle. It is easier to get someone to use a web based app. It also much easier to publish a cloud/web app and not have someone else control whether or not you can distibute it.

      Perhaps the cloud app can be the Lite version and the downloadable is the full version. At least thats my thought but I am not a an app developer.
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  • Profile picture of the author TWalker
    Honestly, just remove the address bar from a mobile site you can connect to social networking, stream live audio, live TV, video, RSS feeds, Geo-coupon deals, Maps etc etc.

    You have an application right there without installing a single thing. I have mobile sites that look as slick as any installed app.

    For my current project:

    I would rather sell this:


    Did You Know Apps no longer need to be installed with New Cloud App Technology?

    "No Download or Install required!"


    Use Our App Here

    Its just HTML5 a slick looking mobile site which does all things a native app would do.

    Not trying to crush native apps here as they have advantages I'm just sayin a mobile site can be an app for all intents and purposes.
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  • Profile picture of the author Hemacute
    I have a good idea for a useful mobile app. I haven't found anything like it yet, but it is possibly a day away. How can I protect my idea and also get started on making this happen.

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  • Profile picture of the author Melody
    LOL - okay - the WF is getting scary - I was actually just surfing G for EXACTLY this question - and here it is!

    I do understand why certain types of businesses would prefer a native app and the potential exposure in the iphone store for example - but for local businesses - isn't a web app sufficient when all they really need is to connect with local customers?

    Not to mention the cost differential, submission process etc?

    Very timely discussion and I found exactly what I needed here...again ;-)

    Melody
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    • Profile picture of the author Neetasha
      1.web application developed for the iPhone will need to run on its proprietary OS platform, or on Symbian for many Nokia devices, and so forth. A Web app, however, is typically coded in a browser-rendered language such as HTML combined with JavaScript.
      2.The difference is that an i ph app is usually downloaded from iTunes or the Android Market, whereas a mobile website can run on your mobile's browser like opera mini..
      3.A definite merit of mobile websites is that they update automatically and so not require the customer to download the latest update if you come out with a new version - unlike i phone apps.
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