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Native App or Mobile Web: Choosing the Right Enterprise Mobility Platform

For brands and businesses across the world, mobile presence has become indispensable to achieve the broad marketing outreach. From a technical perspective to marketing potential, decision to adopt, and adapt your business to the appropriate mobile platform depends upon factors such as target audience, budget available, envisioned purpose and features required. Based on these aspects, you will get a clear idea whether you want to simply have a presence of your web product on mobile screens or a complete mobile application procured in-house or through a professional custom mobile application development services provider. In the former situation, you are good to go with a responsive website or web app. In the latter, you will have a native mobile app that can be downloaded from the app store.

Differentiating Mobile Apps from Web Apps

A mobile app can be developed as a native app or as a hybrid app. While mobile friendly websites are either adaptive or responsive. For a generalized discussion and clarity of intent, we would differentiate native apps with responsive web apps. It must be noted that the term hybrid here is a part of the native. And similarly, adaptive is included in usage of the term responsive.

The foremost point differentiating native mobile apps from responsive web apps is that responsive web apps save time and money while native apps, although expensive, have better performance and utilize the capabilities of a smartphone in a deeper and better way. With a single development process, a responsive web app allows a website to be viewed on most of the contemporary mobile browsers. This is because the development team does not have to observe OS guidelines or approvals required to be distributed through the app stores.

Evaluation of Native Apps and Mobile Web Based on 7 Parameters

1. Connectivity

Most businesses prefer anytime, anywhere availability. Responsive web requires internet connection to make sense since it directly pulls information from the browser. When the goal is to be available in every context, responsive web will not help the business if there is no internet connectivity.

Native apps once downloaded are available on the device, with or without internet connection. Native apps are meant for both online and offline scenarios and complement one another well.

Takeaway: Go for native apps if you want the availability of your product/service without internet connection.

2. Performance

When your application is component rich with images and animations, responsive web is inflicted by poor performance on mobile devices. Special features and elements consume more time, data and battery to download the entire page on the browser.

With native apps loading time is not a problem since native elements are designed accommodating mobile performance in the development strategy. User experience with native apps is better since they are much lighter and faster.

Takeaway: For rich and heavy components, native apps are better. For simpler elements, responsive web has little difference compared to native apps in terms of performance.

3. Functionality

To attract user’s attention, push notifications are an effective way to make products/services visible to the users. Responsive web does not allow push notifications. They can be used only on mobile apps.

Also, the phone functions not included on the browser are quite obviously not accessible through responsive web. If you want to utilize camera, calendar, voice recognition, QR codes, augmented reality, et al, you ought to go for a native mobile app.

Takeaway: If you want to leverage the functionality of your mobile device to the maximum, native apps offer not only better user experience but also more business services through the app.

4. Security

Security concerns are omnipresent, especially when a business deals with confidential data and services. Connecting with responsive apps opens a wide gap for trackers who may have malicious intent to upset your business.

With native apps, the connection between the users and the business is set up without third party intervention which enables both users and businesses to be less exposed to malicious tracking.

Takeaway: If security is a major concern, go for native apps.

5. Accessibility

No matter how wonderful your products or services may be, you cannot win unless you are accessible to your users all the time. Responsive web requires users to traverse a longer path to reach you. First, they think of you, then they search you, then they wait for the browser to load, and then finally your content is accessible to them. This process is more or less similar and repetitive every time your users want to connect to you.

With native apps, once you come to the user’s mind, you are downloaded on their phone. Your presence then will be for a longer term unless there is a reverse of fortunes!

Takeaway: If you want yourself to be present on the user’s phone all the time, native apps are better than responsive web.

6. Availability

For certain businesses, initial engagement makes more sense than long term association. All you want is an instant access via a browser across different devices. In that case, downloading and installing from an app store poses a barrier between quick engagement and action.

Takeaway: Responsive web is better if quick availability is more important for your business than long term accessibility.

7. Lifecycle

According to a recent research, the average life of a mobile app is about 30 to 45 days. If you are skeptical about the uniqueness and usefulness of your application that can make it last on the user’s phone for a long time, it is better to opt for responsive web—which is always available.

Takeaway: Mobile apps can be deleted, but responsive web is eternal.

Why Choose Native Apps?

1. When your application is laden with feature-rich functionalities, and you are targeting a narrow niche with audience making a personalized and regular use.

2. For applications that take data and perform complex calculations to furnish charts and reports.

3. To perform mobile specific functions by utilizing resources such as camera or processing power.

4. To make your application remain functionable even without internet connection.

Why Choose Responsive Web?

1. If your consumers are likely to search you right from the word go, i.e. for instant availability.

2. When you want your website to be compatible and instantly upgradable across devices.

3. When you want your website to be easily shareable by publishers and between users.

4. When you want your mobile website to have a broader reach.

5. When you want to save both time and cost.

Or, Choose Both

Making a web presence on smartphones is imperative for every enterprise. Many businesses start with responsive mobile web and then adopt the native app, or vice versa, as their business branches out.

It is, however, more sensible to think of mobile website as the first step in developing a mobile web presence. An app must come into play for specific purposes where the responsive app has become ineffective to accomplish the desired result. Moreover, making a brand image is not an overnight achievement. It takes patience, persistence and perseverance to make a business successful. In the course of your flourishing business, you might have two sets of users—one who uses the web, other who prefers the app. Initially, you would have the web user more often than the app user. And later, this difference comes to a saturation point where figures might suggest the difference of users based on the type of your business and preferences of your audience. So, it is advisable to have the best of both the worlds, if feasible, of course!

Inference Drawn

The 7 parameters based on which we have differentiated the 2 platforms viz. mobile app and responsive web, may serve as the checklist to facilitate easy and informed decision-making.

If your web presence is simply about company information, and your pockets are not too deep, a responsive website would be ideal. However, in case you desire to offer engaging experience, with functional and transactional interactions, native app is the way to go.

If you have made the final decision, or in case you are still not very clear about which way to go—native app or responsive web, we can help you. Rigel Networks with more than 12 years in business has a team of certified mobile and web application developers skilled in creating native, hybrid, adaptive, and responsive websites and applications for the mobile platform.

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