Browser versus app: why not have both (and more)?

When it comes to online activities, consumers demand both speed and simplicity. Recent studies conducted by Adobe’s Omniture division and Orange in the UK found that the majority of end-users surveyed prefer mobile browsers to apps. But, this doesn’t make sense considering the fact that mobile browsers in general tend to be slower and more complicated than native apps.

Could this revelation be down to the fact that the smartphone trend is only just about to hit dizzy heights? Or is it possible that many people prefer mobile browsers simply because it is what they’re used to?

Browsing the web on a PC is an age-old habit – however in terms of companies wanting to grow a mobile presence, choosing between apps and mobile web becomes a little more complicated. In contrast, native apps usually offer the best end-user experience in terms of speed and simplicity.

Moreover, with customers not willing to wait more than a few seconds for a web page to load, if organizations choose only a mobile website, they would be best advised to ensure its functionality is up to speed.

Fortunately for the mobile website loyalists, the clunky browsing experience that we have known and despised for so long may soon be a thing of the past. HTML 5 is adding unprecedented user experience to the mobile browser that really hasn’t existed until recently. In addition to this, the iPhone’s Safari browser now allows users to add bookmarks to the desktop, which brings mobile browsing one step closer to the smooth, simple native app experience.

However, the question remains as to why companies still insist on choosing between apps and browsers when they could realistically have both? If a company really wants a significant presence in the mobile world, it should be utilizing all options. In this ever-changing and increasingly fragmented market, companies must rethink their mobile strategy to include not only both browsers and apps, but also SMS, tablets and other next-generation devices.

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Sophie Vu leads the execution of Kony Solutions’ marketing and business development initiatives. She has previously served in a variety of marketing and communications roles for software companies including Adobe, Motorola, Palm, Symantec, Yahoo!, ESPN and Google. Sophie earned a master’s of business administration from the University of California, Los Angeles Anderson School of Management and a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and International Business from San Francisco State University.