In the past few blogs, we have discussed the difference between apps and browser-based mobile Web sites. And while I myself have supported the strategy of companies that opt for the mobile Web site route, there are good reasons to produce mobile Web sites and apps.

To understand the background, please think about your own daily behaviour and usage of apps and mobile Web sites. You’ll notice an absolute difference in the way you use both platforms, and this is all right!

Most apps that have been successful over the long term understood the difference. And it is not only a German, American, or Asian phenomenon. You will find the same kind of apps in the Top 10 everywhere. And the same applies to mobile Web sites; the ones in the lead are structured nearly the same.

So what are these criteria? And why should you adopt them for your business?

My thesis: Apps are used for monothematic desires, i.e. clear focus. Mobile Web sites are inspiring and used for multi-thematic solutions, i.e. surfing.

Have a look on your iPhone or Android phone: 

  • An app for weather? Check.

  • An app for train travel? Check.

  • An app for local search? Check.

  • An app for a live sports tracker? Check.

  • An app for my football club? Check.

  • An app for financial stocks? Check.

I am sure you can fill a similar list with your own personal preferences. But would you ever have the idea to search for one app to provide everything you like or need? I promise there are some apps that currently cover more than one feature for which you installed a separate app.

The problem for the developer: You are not discovering the apps behind the core benefit/positioning. 

On the other hand, regarding mobile Web sites, please have a look on your mostly used news site. There you are, surfing from the news section to sports stats to weather to the latest lottery numbers to user-generated content. Riding on the mobile Internet wave, you are exploring content features for which you have up to five apps, all on one mobile Web site.

For product managers, a perfect scenario. There is no substitution between apps and mobile Web sites, because the terms of use are different, fundamentally different. 

Monothematic apps will be found more easily. Multi-thematic mobile Web sites can use Google for traffic generation. So what does it mean for you?

Split your complex and multi-thematic mobile Web site concept into reasonable, monothematic apps. Start with the core competence and then explore other contents and features.

Make the first step!