It’s vital for your business to capitalize on customers’ growing infatuation with accessing apps and the internet via smartphones – in fact people spend more time browsing the internet via their mobile phones than on their PCs, according to research by Flurry. However, a close look at the pros and cons of developing a native application or a mobile website is essential if you want to successfully make your way into the palms of your customers’ hands.

The numbers speak for themselves; to date over 40 billion apps have been downloaded from the iOS App Store, the Google Play Market is doubling its revenue quarter-over-quarter, and 57% of the top 100 brands have developed a mobile-optimized site.  Whilst apps are beginning to dominate traffic, representing 84% of traffic whilst mobile web accounts for 16% (source: Jumptap’s MobileSTAT report), the lower development costs and universal compatibility of mobile websites also make them a key consideration for company owners seeking to reach customers online.

app web traffic

Source: March 2013 MobileSTAT Report

Of course developing both as complimentary platforms would be ideal, but if that’s not possible, which should you build first?  Here we look at the benefits and bugbears of each option.

Mobile Website


  • Only one universal version to develop
  • Compatible with all browsersmobile site
  • Affordable costs and short development times
  • Updates and edits available immediately in real-time
  • No need for available space on a device to download the app
  • Easy to find on search engines


  • Requires internet connection
  • Limited features
  • Slower than a native app


Optimized for mobile browsing, all or some parts of the website software are downloaded to the mobile phone from the web each time it is run. If you want to attract more customers to your business and generate more leads and conversions, you should start building a mobile website.

Native Application


  • Better user experience and device optimization
  • Faster than a mobile site
  • Ability to use the app offlinemobile-app
  • Integration of specific phone features (GPS, camera, push notifications, accelerometer)
  • Easy to find on the App Stores (iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone Market)
  • Users spend more time on apps


  • Need to develop a different app for each OS
  • Updates must be approved by App Store (for iOS apps) and users have to update the app
  • More expensive and more time-consuming to develop and publish


A native application is an app specifically designed to run on a device’s operating system (iOS, Android, Windows mobile, etc). If you already have a loyal customer base and you want to increase their engagement, you should build a native application.

This infographic by Zabisco provides a great additional overview of the pros and cons.


Choosing which one to build is difficult and depends on many factors. It is important to determine your main goals and what is important for your audience. If possible, build a mobile site and an app at the same time in order to capitalize on both. Otherwise start by building a mobile site first as it is less expensive and easier to manage.

Take a look at the MobPartner blog for affordable solutions to help you build your mobile site and your native application.

And if all that is not enough, one more solution to reaching customers online is a HTML5 Web App which we will review in the next post of this series.

What worked for your business?  Share your thoughts with us!


7 Responses to Mobile Web vs Native Applications – Which is best for your business?

  1. Ignacio Roda says:

    I agree. It is not about thinking that there is a best choice. It really depends on your audience. Of course, every company should have a web site adapted to mobile devices. But native apps can achieve some things that mobile sites don’t.

    I created one presentation comparing native apps and mobile sites some weeks ago. Let me share it with you.

    • MobPartner says:

      Thank you very much Ignacio for sharing this interesting presentation with us! Maybe you can give us your personal advice on App Builders’ too and give us some more info on Mobincube on the post

  2. […] they don’t!” this is not the article for you.  (Go read one of these oh no make it stop can’t breathe not HN too I can’t do this anymore please just stop so many […]

  3. vlad says:

    Creating native and HTML5 apps is no longer a problem. Due to user friendly and flexible online app building platforms it is really easy to get an app in the Appstore and Google Play even if you have no programming skills. Among the services I used myself I would recommend Snappii as their opportunities in mobile app development seem to be endless and can suit any business needs.

  4. […] read one of these oh no make it stop can’t breathe not HN too I can’t do this anymore please just stop so many opinions so few […]

  5. Yigal Carmy says:

    Nice comparison, easy to understand, but I have to disagree with you regarding the UX and speed of mobile web. The new SPA solution (single page web application) works like a native application in terms of speed and UX. Infect, in some cases you can load all the site to the browser’s cache; this means that even if the internet connection dies suddenly, you can still use the application.

  6. Damon Damore says:

    Are there any examples of successful non-native apps launched that were new apps (not by an established brand)?

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