Smartphones, Native or Web Applications ?

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It would be very hazardous to make long-term predictions. This year BlackBerry is back in force and Microsoft / Nokia have not said their last word. Android continues its lightning progress. The iPhone went from a 4:3 to 16:9 screen. One thing is sure, the world of smartphones continues to move very quickly and promises numerous twists.

The ecosystem of smartphones offers two main ways to access the information: Native Application which can be downloaded from the “stores” and Web Applications via web browser.

Native Application for? at what price?

Native applications make great echo in the media, because we are talking about millions of installations of this or that application. It is primarily for applications such as Facebook or Instagram that target an international entertainment audience. But what is it for real estate agencies?

A native application is developed specifically for an OS. Until recently you could target iPhones to reach a vast majority of users in Switzerland. But the past year Android has arrived with more than 30% of mobile use, and this proportion is growing rapidly, we can no longer omit these mobile users of the equation.

With more than 500,000 apps on iOS and  450,000 on Android, knowing that the average user installs 40 apps on his smartphone and do not use less than a dozen regularly, only 0.00002% of the applications reach their target. Ad campaigns on traditionnal media (press, radio, billboards) have a much greater impact on an equivalent budget.

Android fragmentation, you have heard about it?

Android hides a myriad versions of the OS and especially amount of screen sizes and brands (Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony, …). All these smartphones have different characteristics that make the development of native applications very complex and expensive, this is called fragmentation.

Investing in a trend is blind betting

For native applications, it is very difficult to bet on the solution to be viable still in 6 months. One thing is sure though, smartphones consume internet since more than 4 years and it will still be true tomorrow. This all manufacturers know and improve their models to be even more efficient in this respect.

Web Applications Web, universal solution?

A mobile Web application is primarily to take advantage of the ubiquity of the Internet. The main feature that distinguishes a mobile web application of a standard website is that it is designed for a small touchscreen.

Like any website, mobile web applications can display the content of the text, photos and video. They can also access specific mobile features such as click-to-call (dial a phone number) or geolocation.

A mobile Web application has a number of inherent advantages over native applications, including greater accessibility, compatibility and profitability.

Immediacy : The mobile Web application provides instant access to information with a simple click on a search result link into an email or ezine. Unlike native applications, the user does not need to download and install the application from a “store” before the content can be accessed – an important barrier between the initial commitment and action / conversion .

Compatibility : The mobile Web application is available on 100% of smartphones (iOS, Android, Blackberry, WindowsPhone, ..) and all versions – no fragmentation. In addition mobile website addresses can be easily integrated with other mobile technologies such as SMS, QR-codes or NFC.

Visibility : Mobile Web Application are indexed by search engines. Their content is searchable by users and participates in the popularity of your domain (Page Ranking). It is also much easier for users to share information (SMS, eMail, social networks).

If your goals are primarily focused on mobile marketing, or if your goal is to provide content and establish a mobile presence that can be easily shared between users and search engines, the mobile Web application is the logical choice.

Article written for ImmoMagazine #8 by Raphaël Cornuz