A recent Adweek article, “Do Mobile Users Prefer Browsers Over Apps?” piqued my interest about the pros and cons of viewing different media on mobile browsers vs. viewing the same media on specific apps on their mobile phones. I began evaluating my own mobile phone behavior – do I prefer a mobile browser to an app? When do I decide to download an app instead of view the website on a mobile browser? Are there sites that I view on both my mobile browser and in an app format?
My personal app library includes only a handful of my most trusted and useful applications: Gmail, Facebook, Weather, Pandora & Skype Mobile – The newest music, connecting with family & friends, and knowing if I should pack an umbrella for my morning commute are important to me, thus I downloaded the apps. Some tech savvy people have a wider array of apps for variety of different mobile needs – social media, games, and local apps. However, it’s clear that the quantity and specific type of application downloaded varies by each individual person’s needs and interests. There are many websites and services that consumers find more useful in mobile app format, versus a mobile browser – for example social media sites, music & games. This is illustrated by the Adobe Mobile Experience survey.
However, today’s mobile browsers (whether you have an Android, Blackberry or iPhone) are often better suited for consumers’ needs. While I commonly use the Facebook application, I sometimes switch to my mobile browser when the app leaves something to be desired. For example, when using the Android Facebook app, users can’t see who “likes” their status (only how many people “like” them), notifications are downloaded only every 30 minutes, and users must go to the mobile site to read/respond to a notification. Although these are minor drawbacks, they are reasons that an Android user such as myself would have to switch to their mobile browser to view their Facebook page, in addition to using the app.
Although the Android Facebook app is not perfect – I always view my Facebook profile through the app first, and if I crave something more, I move on to my mobile browser. This proves that the mobile application provides more advantages than disadvantages for me. However, I prefer to use my mobile browser for the majority of my online web surfing needs, such as shopping and the news. With the various advantages & disadvantages of every unique app, brands should evaluate their target market’s mobile phone behavior before investing in app development, since it is easy and sometimes more convenient for consumers to view content via their mobile browser.