Apps 6 Times More Popular than Web on Phones, Less Popular on Tablets

The debate among mobile developers is on. Are apps the sure-fire way to consumers wallets, or is it mobile websites? On smartphones, apps have proved hugely popular. These tiny programs that usually do one thing really well have clicked with consumers to even Apple’s, the company that first brought apps to us, surprise. Apps have made some developers rich, and for others provide a viable income stream. But the fact is apps are not an efficient way to deliver functionality. Each app must be developed several times — once for each smartphone platform — in order to reach the widest number of users. They must also be maintained and updated across these platforms, and in order for people to get them they have to be found and purchased, or provided free, through an app store.

On the other hand is the mobile web. Functionality that can be developed for delivery through web browsers only requires one vector of delivery and maintenance, and the programs are automatically accessible to all. Browser technology is great for almost all of the functionality that apps now deliver, and there’s no app store policies for developers to deal with. Typically consumers follow the easiest route, right? Well, not according to the following recent data. Maybe it’s the shiny icons, cool names or flashy home screens, but consumers greatly prefer apps on their smartphones (although not quite as much on tablets).

The study, conducted in April 2011, found that on smartphones, apps were used 85% of the time, but the Web browser was used just 15% of the time. On tablets, apps were still popular, but were used just 61% of the time as compared with Web browsing, which was used 39% of the time.

Says Jing Wu, from Zokem’s research team, “it can be speculated that for tablets, the bigger screen and the better overall user experience in browsing contribute to the relatively higher face time for Web browsing. On smartphones, on the other hand, a smaller screen and of course, better availability of apps, contribute to the apps’ dominance.”

It makes sense that the smaller the screen the more likely a consumer would prefer an app. It’s a shame though to have to lose your collection when changing phones, or borrowing one.

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