Mobile Web vs. Native Apps or Why You Want Both

by Luke Wroblewski January 7, 2016

While the mobile opportunity has been clear for some time, how to best tackle it remains a subject of debate. In particular, when building software for mobile should we invest in Web-based solutions or a native apps? Yes...

The tremendous growth of mobile has created an unprecedented opportunity to provide content and services to nearly everyone on planet Earth through software.

growth of mobile devices

Native mobile apps dominate time spent on mobile devices.

Native app time spent vs. Mobile web

Looking a bit deeper, most of these devices are smartphones. And just a few apps really dominate time spent on your phone, dwarfing mobile Web engagement.

Top four native apps dominate time spent

But mobile audience growth is driven by mobile web properties, which are actually bigger and growing faster than native apps.

Mobile audience growth web v. native apps

In other words. The Web is for audience reach and native apps are for rich experiences. Both are strategic. Both are valuable. So when it comes to mobile, it's not Web vs. Native. It's both.

reach vs. rich: web vs. native

Whenever I make this point, someone inevitably asks "what about Web browsers within native apps?" Is there a large amount of time spent on Web properties within embedded Web browsers inside the World's most popular native mobile apps?where is web used in native apps?

From the data I've gotten access to it looks like about 20% of iOS mobile Web traffic over the past two years comes from embedded browsers. 50% of it from the embedded Web views in Facebook's native mobile app.

Web usage in embed native app browsers

So once again we see the Web is great for reach —even within native apps.