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Do you need a dedicated Web app for your employees and customers to use – or can a mobile-friendly webpage accessible via a browser do the job?

How device-specific does your mobile app need to be – can you have one app for iPhone and iPad, or do you need apps designed for each device’s unique display characteristics?

What about the mini tablets – or maxi smartphones that are showing up in greater numbers at CES in Las Vegas this week?  Will the 5-6” displays change the rules again?

Questions like these are plaguing CIOs around the world as they finalize plans for mobile app development and mobile Web deployments for the coming months.  Unfortunately, the only thing that’s certain about trends in this area is that they’re being driven by consumer behavior instead of IT preferences – and the pace of change isn’t slowing down.

In August 2012, mobile phones and tablets accounted for a combined total of 13.3% of all Internet page views worldwide. That’s more than double the share of Web traffic coming from mobile devices compared to just one year earlier according to the comScore Device Essentials report published in October 2012. The same report says that PCs were the source for 86.7% of all Internet page views in August 2012, a decline of 6.4 percent in a year, the same report said.

The percentage of page views from mobile devices is sure to increase again in 2013, and the only question is how fast mobile devices will overtake PCs as the dominant source of Web traffic.

Usually, when enterprise planners start thinking about how to optimize the user experience, they try to match the available technology to their audience. But as smartphone and tablets become more ubiquitous, their users are getting harder to identify by age, gender, income, or race.  Though they used to be the tools of a niche group, it’s no longer true that whether or not you have a smartphone or tablet is determined by your age or how much money you make, according to a Nielsen survey released in December 2012.

Instead, Nielsen says that companies looking to decide whether to invest in dedicated mobile apps should look at one specific behavior pattern in their target audience: how impatient they are. People of all ages who don’t tolerate dull moments – the ones who can’t wait in a line for coffee without multitasking – are the ones most likely to turn to their phones or tablets for instant gratification. That might mean completing a quick task or finding an instant distraction. And it’s these “information snackers” who are the most likely to demand dedicated apps rather than mobile-friendly browser-based information.

That’s because dedicated apps deliver a faster, more reliable, more consistent experience.  Once someone takes the step of adding an app to their tablet or phone, they have “one touch” access to your content – and you have “one touch” access to their attention.

But don’t rule out the mobile browser just yet. eMarketer says that 73% of shoppers use a Web browser rather than a mobile app when they’re searching for a product or service for the first time, and 63% of smartphone users say they’re more likely to research a purchase than to complete one via their mobile device.

On the other hand, that’s changing as more and more consumers grow increasingly accustomed to paying with mobile devices. Forrester Research says that U.S. mobile commerce sales are growing at a compound annual rate (CAGR) of 55% through 2015, reaching more than $31 billion per year by 2015.

So how do you make the decision on your mobile development priorities? The decision comes down to your own roadmap for e-business, as well as an understanding of the trends and tools that are changing the way people and companies interact, and what devices they use to exchange information.

Start by looking at the specific goals for your project.  Are you trying to give mobile device users access to content that already exists online?  If so, then a mobile-friendly, search engine optimized webpage accessible via a mobile browser may be all you need for now.

For example, a Fortune 100 client recently asked us to help us make their mobile website look and perform better than any competitor in their industry.  Our software engineers designed and developed an HTML5 version with over 26 modules that allow users to swipe, tap, stretch, and pinch just as they would using a native app.

But if you want to engage a specific group with information that’s highly customized, then a dedicated mobile app may save time and money in the long run. Apps are also more secure, and give you increased control over how information is displayed and delivered. We recently helped a client increase online banking usage by building an Android app that customers could use to instantly send money from one account to another via SMS text message.  Our Android team worked with the client’s IT department to implement the app on different platforms, and integrate it with the bank’s existing customer portal for a solution that was both effective and secure.

If you’re ready to develop a mobile app or mobile-friendly website for your company – or need help understanding which one is right for you – contact InfoVision today.

 

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