Mobile applications or websites designed for mobiles?

Whilst looking at the iPhone app from MUSE it really highlighted to be the advantage downloadable phone applications have over mobile optimised websites viewed on a mobile web browser.  In particular the ability to use the functionality of the device such as the map or ability to take photos at gigs and tag them.  In my mind this was a good example of what makes it worthwhile having an application over a mobile optimised website.

I’m sure there is reason to have both on most occasions but below is what I see as the advantages of both which may help choose the most appropriate use of technology, or justification to build an application.  With the mobile web booming this is an area that can’t be ignored.

Applications (an application someone physically downloads to their mobile device)

  • Fast to access – probably easier than the customer opening a website and finding your site, an app to take them direct to your content, one click
  • More screen available  – no browser surround
  • Not reliant on the scripting technologies within the browser – likely to do more clever things in an application than you can do in a mobile browser.
  • More functionality – Camera features such as the camera or positioning can be utilised if required, more screen touch utilisation
  • Seen as innovative – you can announce that it’s there, if your a band it could even be seen as mobile merchandise in a way that a website isn’t
  • More acceptable to charge – people seem willing to pay a few pence to download an app that they then have on their phone

Mobile website (a version of your website optimised for use on a small mobile screen)

  • No download required (less committment to use) – for a band this may be good for not excluding people who aren’t already fans
  • Potentially larger customer base – not reliant on a certain phone
  • May be easier to redesign for mobile than develop an application
  • Larger potential customer base – customers don’t need the latest phone to access the content
  • Less committment – you may dissapoint people if your mobile application requires that you maintain it via feeds etc, if it’s been downloaded customers may be more dissapointed if you stop maintaining it rather than if you change your website.

I’m sure there are more advantanges that I’ve missed, please do comment with your ideas.

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One thought on “Mobile applications or websites designed for mobiles?

  1. Nice thoughts. I think they are pretty much on the mark regarding the pros and cons of one approach vs. the other. I would add that “potentially larger customer base” currently is a considerable one given the fragmented smart phone market.

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