3 Ways Apps Are Ending Mobile Web Browsers

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When was the last time you used your smartphone’s web browser without an app directing you there? For most people, using Chrome or Safari is inconvenient. A 2015 Nielson study found that 85 percent of smartphone usage is through apps, and that figure continues to climb through 2017. In fact, many mobile websites will even ask you to download its app rather than continue through the website at all.

Just imagine how annoying it is when Siri sends you to a Google search rather than just answering your question. People are avoiding the web browser to the point that companies are focusing less on their own mobile website and more on a proprietary app. Here are a few ways the “appification” of the mobile web is affecting the way companies market to consumers.

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Making Room for More

Apple showed serious premonition with its signature tagline, “there’s an app for that.” There are so many apps on both the App Store and Google Play that filling a smartphone’s storage is nearly effortless. So, as we move away from web browsing and keep hurdling toward apps, how do we optimize space on the phone?

As LTE, the standard for high-speed cellular data, continues to improve, streamed apps are becoming more of a reality. Just as we save space on our phones by streaming music and video, streaming apps will help us save even more storage space in the future. It’s not quite there with 4G LTE, the current frequency; but the next-generation of Gigabit LTE made possible with technology like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon modems (your Android phone likely uses one of its processors) will make streamed apps — accessible 24/7 via the cloud — a reality. Not only does this technology provide fast download and upload times, it also streams high-res videos, all while remaining energy efficient, which means you can access apps for a longer period of time.

A Must for eCommerce

Amazon.com is still the go-to for online shopping via a desktop or laptop, but on mobile it’s all about the app. In fact, if you even try to access Amazon.com on your smartphone’s browser, the website will automatically ask you to download the app — the same goes for Target, Best Buy and other popular retailers.

Companies want you to use apps over mobile sites because they can better control the experience and bring you into the “ecosystem.” That’s a term you’ve probably heard before relating to Apple of Google, which want you to use all its products and digital services, but “ecosystems” extend well into retail too. REI, for example, doesn’t just sell products on its app. You can download hiking maps, sign up for outdoors classes and get updates on promotions throughout the years. Companies that bring in regular app users convert more sales compared to manually typing in a web address to shop online.

The End of Websites (As We Know Them)

What young coders are learning is a good predictor of how we’ll surf the web in the future. HTML, CSS and Java are all now taking a backseat to languages like Swift, Python and Ruby (used to build apps) for young coding students. This is one of those cases where “everyone else is doing it” applies. Small businesses are avoiding mobile websites because we’re approaching a future where there could be fewer coders who specialize in that field. Five or ten years from now, every coder will likely be proficient in app-building, and that is why companies should focus on the space now.

So should you abandon a mobile website entirely? It may be too soon for that, as most templates from platforms like WordPress or Squarespace automatically adapt your web templates from desktop to mobile (known as “responsive” sites). But, moving forward, there could be little reason to invest a lot of money into a mobile website when an app is the better option.

Published by Kidal Delonix (763 Posts)

Kidal Delonix is a contributor to Mr. Hoffman's blog. The views and opinions are entirely his/her own and may not reflect Mr Hoffman's views.

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