For the first time in the technological revolution of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, mobile is king. In 2014, there were less desktop users in the world than those utilizing mobiles. Whoever wins mobile wins the market, which includes an almost exclusive access to an estimated expanding consumer-base currently exceeding 1.8 billion customers. In the past half-decade, a war has been raging in the mobile market. The two kingpins of industry, the mobile web and apps, have fought it out for dominance and it seems the war is over. Some may scoff that mobile isn’t everything in the deafening cacophony that is fast-becoming the world’s largest market – the internet, but the Global Web Index begs to differ.
In 2015, they found that over 80% of internet users owned a smartphone and a further 47% a tablet. Not only has mobile hardware impregnated the daily lives of billions across the globe, the market is still growing. As developing nations become more prosperous and their mobile networks grow, so grows the demand for smartphones in those countries. Furthermore, innovative products such as smart watches are exploding onto the scene and augmenting such growth. It is clear that whatever wins mobile does indeed win the web. But what will win mobile?
Presently, the mobile web is subservient to apps. In 2013, Nielsen research found that, on a monthly basis, mobile users spend around 30 hours using apps, while dedicating less than 4 to mobile web. This equates to a mere 11% of users’ time on their mobile devices spent on the free web and whooping 89% of their time inside apps. The statistics certainly suggest that mobile web is on its decline into obsolescence and in those far-fetched places where it appears to be still alive and thriving, the trend will undoubtedly catch on.
The app-led attack on the mobile web has been the blatant recipient of inordinate success, for all involved. Apple announced in June, that over 75 billion apps had been downloaded from their App Store since the project’s genesis and that developers had cashed a reported collective paycheck in excess of $10bn solely in 2014!
Even with figures in billions, App store is not the market leader. Google Play downloads were a full 25% higher than downloads from iOS App Store. Google Play growth is capitalized in emerging markets, which drove the store’s impressive growth over the last year and continue to remain the front-runner.
The truth behind these new uber-popular apps is that most were not designed by highly skilled marketers, but by the artists of the twenty-first century – coders and developers. The apps world is bringing personal endeavor back into the mainstream. Apps are an art form – the free web is anarchy! In a single month, developers received over half a billion dollars from their creations and there are plenty of them. On the App Store, there are now more than 1.4 million applications available to Apple’s cult. The mobile web cannot even compare. There is money and variety in apps, and most importantly the will to meet the demands of all. It seems that we, as a society, have grown fond of these Michelangelo’s of the Microsoft-age and the earnings are but the tip of the iceberg.
Not only are consumers willing to spend their hard-earned cash on apps, they crave them. Apps offer an intra-connected sensation to users. Users can participate, purchase and pry into worlds they may not have previously. They offer an all-in-one package that includes everything a user could possibly desire – 55% of people believe apps are more convenient than traditional sites on mobile devices and 48% attested that apps were either as fast as or faster than the mobile web. Take one of the most popular retailers in the world as an example – Amazon. Its app offers the ability to quickly look up, compare and purchase products, view product details and consumer reviews, access free books, music, TV shows and movies, all in one single succinct package. This all-inclusive ecosystem increases the probability of purchase and the amount of returning customers. In recognition of the benefits, Amazon itself redirects its users from their mobile website to their mobile application.
The ever-present go-to place in user’s pockets – an app – is a more convenient, faster and advantageous vessel for all involved – consumers, developers as well as businesses. A Compuware study found that only 1% of mobile users prefers to use the mobile web to apps. The package is complete and this modern and growing field is ripe for the picking. With billions at stake and increasingly saturated home screens on mobile devices, there is a new clash of the titans happening as we speak.