Now that tablets appear to have taken over from laptops, most brands, especially publishers, are building mobile apps. But while some magazine apps are wildly successful most are not, although research does agree that consumers are reading more on mobile devices. What is the disconnect?
The disconnect is that consumers actually prefer information from a mobile web site rather than an app. According to new findings from mobile software firm Netbiscuits, which surveyed 5,000 consumers in ten markets including the United States, the United Kingdom, India, and China,
when browsing or searching for information on the mobile Web, 79% of respondents globally said they would prefer to have the option of using a mobile Web site, as opposed to 18% who were happy just using native apps.
For better or worse, consumers have only begun to embrace the mobile Web. Already, one in four people now spend a third of their waking life — or about six hours per day — on the mobile Web. Still, less than half reported being totally satisfied with their mobile experience.
We are quite interested in these results because first, we are global, and often research findings do not include many of the global markets we have in our publisher network, like India and Indonesia. Second, our high impact formats and full screen video on the web offerings are well-suited to mobile-optimized sites.
One thing we know about markets in which smartphone adoption is new, and tablets are just coming into play: readers in these markets do not download apps in the numbers customers from the US and UK do. Perhaps one day they will. but not yet. The shift to mobile may be happening quickly, but it will be several years before the shift to mobile means the shift to mobile apps, rather than sites. Some say with the success of HTML it will never happen at all.
So if you are a publisher with budget constraints, it would be more useful for you to prioritize responsive design (mobile optimization) than spend money building a mobile app.