Mobile Apps vs Mobile Web: How Does it Affect My Market Research Firm?

by Muazam Krishnan on Oct 21, 2017
As more and more people own mobile devices, mobile-only internet users have long since overtaken desktop-only internet users, and app usage has surpassed desktop usage.[1]

Market research companies are starting to embrace a mobile strategy, for everything from making their main online website show correctly on smaller mobile screens, all the way to investing in development of dedicated iOS and Android apps for their products and services.

In taking a mobile strategy, there is a never-ending debate whether mobile app is better, or mobile web.

What’s the difference?

What is the difference between mobile web, mobile app, HTML5, native apps, and hybrid apps?

Mobile web is simply websites that are optimized for smartphone web browsers. Typically, they are the same as the website displayed on desktop, except the website layout is moved around to fit nicely on a mobile screen.

HTML5 is a computer language for writing websites for the mobile era.

A mobile app is an app that you download from the iOS App Store, or the Android Play Store. A mobile app can either be a native app, or a hybrid app.

A native app is an app written specifically for one platform. So an iOS app, that can only work on iOS and not on Android, is a native app. If your market research firm wants to create an app for both iOS and Android, and you want native apps, you would need to create 2 separate apps that look the same, one for the iOS app store, and one for the Android app store.

A hybrid app is an app that actually shows a mobile website inside. It looks like an app that you download from the iOS/Android app store, but all the app is doing is just showing you a website. The same hybrid app can be used for iOS and Android phones.

Why does it matter?

As a market research company, you need to decide which strategy works for you.

Mobile web tends to be easier to access for users, because users do not need to go through the app store, and download an app and learn their way around accessing a new app. It’s much quicker and easier for users to adopt.

Mobile apps, on the other hand, are much clunkier, but often have more features. They take up more memory and storage space on the users’ phone because you have to download and run them locally.

Mobile apps often have access to more features, such as push notifications, more precise GPS location tracking and device vibration. But in recent years, HTML5 has been catching up quickly. It’s now much easier to often features in Mobile Websites that used to be only possible in Mobile Native Apps.

Which should I go with?

The right choice depends on your business goals.

If you want to easily share content between all of your users, across iOS and Android and Web devices, then Mobile Web is good for you. It will also automatically help with SEO, as your branded content will show up in Google search results. Mobile Web will help you reach a wider audience.

If you want to leverage device capabilities, like push notifications, or frame-by-frame control based on how users scroll (important for mobile games), you should go with a native app.

You should almost always never go with hybrid apps. It used to be a way for market research firms to cut cost, by having the best of both worlds (easily sharing the same content across iOS and Android users, but still have access to phone hardware). But now Mobile Web technology has advanced enough to make hybrid apps not very necessary.

In the end, you may decide you need both a mobile website and a mobile app. It certainly helps increase your research firm’s audience reach to have both, if you can afford the maintenance cost.

What did Curspace go with?

device audience of market research respondents

At Curspace, we decided to go with Mobile Web for our video surveys, because we wanted to make our surveys accessible by every type of respondents. We want respondents to be able to submit videos from any device, whether it is an iPhone, an Android phone, a laptop--it doesn’t matter. We want respondents to be able to give video responses from any device with a camera, mic, and internet connection.

[1] Which is the better option:
Mobile Web Audience Reach Respondents Devices Camera