Last month was the first time ever that smartphone and tablet apps originated more Internet traffic than PCs (US data). In the article “Mobile apps overtake PC Internet usage in U.S” we learn that mobile devices originated 55% of Internet usage, which is interesting, but even more interesting is the fact that apps accounted for 47% vs 8% from mobile browsers. Clearly, users like to surf the web using a mobile browser but they prefer to go online using dedicated apps.
I am assuming most of this traffic is streaming media since traffic generated by streaming media grows almost exponentially. Streaming media apps are great examples to why native apps are most often better than their HTML-based siblings. Netflix, Spotify, Youtube, Viaplay… the snappiness and excellent user experience and user interface design in these apps are extremely difficult characteristics to achieve using HTML only. Furthermore, the most popular apps are designed to do a few things extremely well, they are not all over the map with radically different features and content. This scoping aspect sets the app apart from a Web solution which excels in browsing and spanning across a broader scope of features and content dressed up in Web.
To conclude… if your site doesn’t render well on phone or tablet, you need to start your journey to responsive web design. After that, if you want to enable a long lasting experience with your customers, in narrowly scoped and beautifully designed solutions, you also need to be present in the channel where there is most Internet traffic: mobile apps.