With apps losing their novelty and e-commerce firms revisiting their mobile web strategies, Google has emerged as the winner retaining its dominance of online ad. Apps as e-commerce companies told anyone who cared to listen, were the future. Many put their money where their mouths were, altogether withdrawing from the mobile web.
Now, as apps lose their novelty, and as smartphone users uninstall apps to clear up memory, these companies are revisiting their mobile web strategies. Start-ups across the board, especially those that had moved unevenly towards the app, are scrambling to improve their mobile web offerings.
Earlier this year, companies had reduced resources and efforts towards mobile web, and the app-only strategy was taking centre-stage. But increasingly, we are seeing re-prioritization of mobile web and companies are giving equal attention to mobile web again.
Few predicted this shift, which wasn’t even on the radar of many start-ups a few months ago. The mobile web never died, and for those who moved to app-only…it was a faulty decision in the first place. For service providers like us, it is never an either/or choice. Slowly you are seeing a lot of innovation happen on the web; for instance, there are app-like features now available on the web.
India is expected to have close to 400 million mobile Internet users by June 2016, according to a report released in November by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and market research firm IMRB International.
A majority of these users will access the Internet only through their smartphones. With the growing popularity of mobile apps, which many say offer a superior customer experience than conventional websi-tes, start-ups shifted their pro-duct and business strategies towards the app at the expense of desktop and mobile websites.
During the funding boom of 2014-15, many investors regarded the number of app downloads as one of the indicators of a start-up’s performance. Entrepreneurs and marketing heads rushed to maximize app downloads. Soon, however, it was evident that they didn’t necessarily result in high growth.
Consequently, the focus moved to usage and customer engagement. In this scenario, many start-ups and their investors have accepted that their expectations of an app-only world haven’t materialized. There are several reasons for this. Many first-time Internet users, especially in smaller cities and towns, prefer using their mobile web browsers to shop and surf the Internet rather than download a multitude of apps on their low-cost smartphones that have limited storage.
Customers also tend to get rid of most of the apps they download because of the inconvenience of frequent app updates and the limited storage space on phones, studies have shown. Now, many start-ups are moving to building mobile web apps, which can potentially offer the convenience and superior experience of so-called native apps, but without their limitations.
A few business-to-business (B2B) start-ups are also increasing their focus on the web.
As long as you can offer an app-like experience, mobile web is better for customers and companies. Customers don’t have to keep downloading updates and they save on space. For companies, it’s cheaper to build a mobile app compared to a native app. The shift back to mobile web will also affect advertising and marketing spending.
Mobile web continues to be a way for consumers to engage with content. When it comes to monetization, it will continue on both. Still, there are people who believe that apps will eventually call the shots.In the mobile Internet world, it is an app war. And in an app war, you can’t win by betting on a mobile website.