UPDATED 11:51 EDT / OCTOBER 27 2010

Consumers Prefer Mobile Web Browsers over Apps Already?

A recent study by eMarketer reveals surprising results about preferences of US mobile phone subscribers. Although a large number of apps are downloaded by mobile users, still they prefer mobile web browsers over downloaded apps. As according to the “Adobe Mobile Experience Survey” conducted by Keynote systems, it is found that more than 60% of mobile users have a preference for mobile browsers, except for games, music and social media.

Be it a product review, news, online shopping or a product search, users show a bias towards mobile browsers. It is a growing sentiment as mobile web browsing improves and tablets become more prominent. Some of the figures reported by this study are as following:

Product Reviews

  • Browser-78%
  • App- 22%

Sports Feeds, stories

  • Browser-67%
  • App- 33%

Music

  • Browser-45%
  • App- 55%

Product & Price information

  • Browser-81%
  • App- 19%

These figures are definitely a great surprise for the apps developers as well as mobile experts, who believe that apps are better than mobile browsers. Moreover, the users prefer regular sites over mobile optimized sites as latter come with limited functionality.

According to the report, this preference suggests “a low awareness of optimized experiences for the mobile web,” but users could also be frustrated with the limited functionality many mobile-optimized sites provide.  It’s a trend we’re seeing even with app developer platforms, where more tools for mobile browser optimization and commerce are being incorporated into app functionality.  Take PayPal’s partnership with Appcelerator for instance.  It’s incorporating a familiar aspect of web browsing into mobile apps.

While it’s beginning to draw a clear line between mobile apps and mobile browsing, the two will converge much of their functions into a more singular experience as development processes and browsing technology improves.  Where we’ll see a more distinct line is between mobile and desktop browsing, with the rise of tablets, metrics and marketing that is taking the consumer experience mobile.


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