Mobile Apps vs. Sites

By Deane Barker on February 14, 2012

Mobile Sites vs. Apps: The Coming Strategy Shift: Here’s a fantastic article from Jakob Nielsen on the state of mobile apps.  He argues that apps are better now, but this will change in favor of mobile sites, and he explains why.  Really great arguments.

The expense of mobile apps will increase because there will be more platforms to develop for. At a minimum, you’ll have to support Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Furthermore, many of these platforms will likely fork into multiple subplatforms that require different apps for a decent user experience.

For user experience purposes, iOS has already forked into iPad vs. iPhone. Although they officially have the same OS software, the two devices need two very different user interface (UI) designs. (See our free report on iPad usability for tablet usability considerations.)’s recent introduction of the Kindle Fire effectively forked the Android user experience with a fairly different platform. And, as our Kindle Fire usability study concluded, you need a separate app with a separate UI to deliver decent usability on this nonstandard device that’s selling like hotcakes.

It’s only realistic to expect even further UI diversity in the future. This will make it extremely expensive to ship mobile apps.



  1. Sure, just like the web was supposed to replace desktop apps. Web-based apps will never replicate the richness/responsiveness of native apps.

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