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

There’s a debate among mobile developers. Are apps the surefire way to consumers’ wallets, or are mobile websites the golden road? On smartphones, apps have proved hugely popular. These tiny programs that usually do one thing well have clicked with consumers to even Apple’s surprise. Apps have made some developers rich and, for others, provide a viable income stream. But apps are not necessarily an efficient way to deliver functionality. To reach the widest number of users separate apps must be developed for each mobile platform and maintained and updated across these platforms. And for people to get them, they have to be purchased, downloaded, and maintained on their devices.

On the other hand, is the mobile web. Functionality developed for delivery through web browsers only requires one vector of delivery and maintenance, and programs are much more easily distributed and maintained. Browser technology is great for almost all of the functionality that apps now deliver, and there are 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.

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