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Mobile apps are viewed by many designers as to be the optimal way to provide a rich user experience on mobile.
However there are some inherent problems with the mobile app:
- The most successful iPhone app which becomes viral enough to be passed to every single user on the iPhone platform will still only reach 7% of the total mobile market. A mobile website has the potential to reach 100% of mobile web users.
- Many iPhone apps require the current version of iOS to run and cannot be used on first-generation iPod touches, which represent 10% of iPhone traffic. The Android market is equally if not more fragmented. Once again mobile websites can normally be accessible to everyone.
- It may be a myth that users prefer a mobile app. Research actually shows that most users prefer mobile websites over mobile apps (Adobe, eMarketer, InsightExpress),not to mention that more people use mobile websites than apps
- It is extremely difficult to rank your mobile app on Google or Bing. Having said that, you can optimize your app for the app stores but it requires some specialized knowledge.
- Apps help the SEO of iTunes, Android Market, or Blackberry App World but not your website. A mobile website (even at m.subdomains) can ultimately benefit your rankings for your .com site
- There are few apps the truly provide something beyond what a mobile web site can do.
Given the above, with a limited budget, you are probably safer building a mobile website rather than a mobile app. This will ensure that you have the broadest reach and engagement for the maximum benefits.
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