Apps vs. Mobile Websites

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Like many I struggle with getting to grips with the distinctions of iPad and iPhone, Android and Blackberry apps. Let alone deciding which fits the people, objectives and strategy I have for our digital presence.

Tablets are booming, but still not yet mainstream. Many juggle their corporate issue blackberry and iPhone for a cross mixture of personal and business use.

To add to the complexity, is your company up to managing the development of apps, on top of all the other facets of digital marketing. A large learning curve, even if you’re outsourcing the development work.

So here’s a brain dump on the pros and cons

Hype

It’s cool to have an app. A mobile website has little fanfare nor a marketplace in which to promote it.

Builds

Scheduled releases, versions and weekly data pushes are good for road-mapping both functionality and content bundles. Good for resource planning. You’re at the app stores’ mercy for release dates though. Smaller shops may escape IT protocol by outsourcing their app builds, which could aid speed to market.

Websites do have the bonus of meeting all mobile devices in a single build, can be modified in hours, and data updated in seconds.

One decision to make, is, does an app allow you to address a specific need, that your website can’t do, due to the many stakeholders. But then again, a micro site could do this, and secure logins could be outsourced (I’m not sure about login protocols via apps).

Functionality

Both websites and apps have similar functionality, the distinction being the use of native features and seamlessness of an app. Touch screen manipulation and shininess is a little better in an app too. You can tailor both to implied and explicit preferences.

Can CSS3 and HTML 5 (Flash and or Silverlight if you’re that way inclined) let you cut and split data, infographics, build stories and customise, just as an app would?

You can be offline, with an app. But clients could be offline, with an error, that you can’t push an update to! Mind, they could print it too, heaven forbid…

Locked In

Locking your customers into a app, forces the app to meet your projects needs, or implies constant upgrades. Not only to improve functionality, but also to keep clients entertained.

It does mean, with a good app, they’re not tempted to browse away.

They also miss out on opportunities to see what else you’re doing on your website, less you pipe it in.

App Opportunities

I think transactional apps and data manipulation apps have legs. What’s enticing for me in an app is the ability to seamlessly tie functionality together. I see client and corporate dashboards as a more interesting proposal.

  • See your calendar, emails, tasks, documents, collaborate and analyse all in a single tool. 
  • Monitor stuff, get reports and analytics from otherwise disconnected sources in a single place,

Does anyone have any other B2B dashboard apps they like?

Photo:via: Camera Slayer

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