ios v Android App downloads

Do you build an app or a mobile Website?

Over the weekend I posted a cool infographic that asked the question: do you build an app or a mobile Website? I did not realize how much great dialog from LinkedIn, Google and Twitter this post would generate. It became clear that the resounding answer is: do both.

So what? It has to be the next question, doesn’t it? Why do I need to create an App and a mobile Web site? The answer, in today’s world, is getting complicated. Our customers ¬†have more screens they use to consume content through. There is the Computer screen, your Smartphone, your tablet and soon wearables, SmartTV and Smart Cars. The challenge is that we access content differently from each device. For the computer we use the Web; for devices we use Apps; and we have no ¬†idea how cars, TVs and wearables will shake out.

Well, one thing is clear, isn’t it? For Smartphones and Tablets we should build an app. Both Apple and Google are seeing Billions of App downloads.

Well, not so simple. Websites are tremendously effective. Think about the emails or text messages you send with links to your web site. Many of us now view our email first on a our phones. If you have a call to action button or link, I am going to click on it on my phone. I am now looking at your Web site and it better look great on my 4″ screen.

What to consider when building a Mobile Website

I am a firm believer in creating responsive designs for your mobile Website. I use that design technique for this site. At its core, responsive design will restructure the layout of your content for the screen viewing the page. A wide screen layout will look different on a tablet, a 7″ phablet and a Smartphone. Considering that new screens are coming thick and fast, it is best to be forward thinking and create a Mobile Website that is responsive.

Many Screens
Many Screens

There are many tools you can use for Responsive Design. The design I am using for this site is a WordPress Theme called “Responsive”. Very easy to setup. You can also use:

Your mobile website is one element of your Omni-media – the next is mobile apps.

Developing Apps – do you pick iOS or Android?

It becomes increasing complex when designing native apps. The demand for apps is massive. Apple and Google are reporting millions of downloads per day. Apple just saw its 50 Billionth app download! The following chart is from Asymco.com and is a year old, but clearly shows the hockey puck increase in demand for apps:

Mobile Apps v Song downloads for iTunes
Mobile Apps v Song downloads for iTunes

The increase in mobile app downloads for Android is also skyrocketing (the following chart is from Silicon Insider).

ios v Android App downloads
ios v Android App downloads

Android is catching up with iOS and will pass it.

So it is clear: you design apps for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Well, at least for today. Both mobile operating systems have shown that they can come and dominate a market in a few short years. There is no reason why Microsoft’s Windows Phone, Blackberry or Samsung/Intel Tizen could not do the same thing. When you consider a market of 5 Billion phones, there is a lot of opportunity for many mobile Operating Systems.

Do you design for Phones or Tablets?

Apple’s iPad lead the way for Tablets as a new category of device. There is no denying that Apple has been tremendously successful with the iPad. With that said, the smaller 7″ market is getting very interesting. Google’s Nexus 7, Kindle Fire and many sub-$200 Android tablets are very good (I use a 7″ Nexus all the time). The shrinking price for Tablets is causing them to sell very well. The following chart illustrates how popular Tablet sales are:

Growth of Tablet Market v Smartphone Market
Growth of Tablet Market v Smartphone Market

If you are building an App, make sure it runs on Tablets and Smartphones. You will be missing customers if you don’t.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, our jobs are simply more complex. Our customers are driving this increased complexity due to the lowing cost of smart devices (PCs, Phones, Tablets). Like it or not, you need both a Mobile Website and native apps that run on multiple operating systems and screens.

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