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Why You Might Not Need an App

You might not need an app. There, I said it.

What if I told you nobody is actually going to use your app?

Not only that, you still need a website, and it needs to provide an amazing experience for viewing on mobile browsers.

Now, before you and Ewan Spence get the nice folks in the white coats to come and take me away, let me explain.


I love apps

I use them daily (more like hourly) (heck, more like constantly), and I’m not alone.

As the Flurry study on internet usage shows, people LOVE them some apps.

The person next to you on the train crushing candy knows this.  Your cousin who loves to show off how many steps she took yesterday knows this. And your best friend from college who can’t stop posting adorable pictures of his new baby (or hilarious Star Wars memes) knows this.

However, Spence’s click baiting claim of the death of the mobile browser is definitively premature. Flurry was nice enough to provide an in-depth breakdown of how people use their phones, and this is the critical information to truly parse, not simply glance at and make a sweeping decision on how to move your business forward.

Yes, 86% of people’s time on their phone is spent using apps.

Based on this, go invest your entire business development budget on getting an app made.  Or wait a minute and come with me inside that 86%.  Don’t worry, it isn’t scary.

Let’s start carving up that 86%

More than half of the 86% is comprised of gaming (32), and social networking in its various forms (28).  Now take out another eleven percent for news and entertainment, and you’re pretty much dead even between browsers and apps.  The rest of the app time is spent on utilities, productivity, and “other”.

This ties in directly to my smartphone usage.

I waste time on games. I check in on my friends and keep people abreast on my activities on social networking. I check the scores and watch highlights. All through apps. But that’s not all. That 14% of time people use browsers? That is when they discover you!

Think about when you DO use your mobile browser

You use it to find out where you can get the tool you want right now, who offers the service that you suddenly realized you need, or the menu to the restaurant you’re considering.  You use it to find out information you don’t already know well enough to have the app.

That’s why you still, in this Age of the App, need to keep working on your website.

Your site needs to be up to date, ready to be found when someone searches. Your site needs to pop up instantaneously. Your site needs to look fantastic and have the information a visitor needs readily available, no pinching, zooming, or squinting. You don’t need a mobile-ready site. You need a mobile-spectacular site.

Don’t believe me?

Get your phone out and check out the sites of some of the apps you use regularly.  

Amazon’s site works amazingly well on any device. So does Gmail’s. What’s true of the big boys is true of everyone: you need to be ready for the new visitor to your site, however they get there - and however they get there is increasingly on mobile devices.

This isn’t to say you don’t need an app as well

An app can give people ready access to your business, and make you their first stop. An app can be a fantastic tool, and may be well worth the investment. Having said that, the company that focuses on an app at the expense of making their website ready to wow on any device does so at their peril.

It won’t be the mobile browser that’s dead…it will be them.