Mobile vs. Apps : What’s the Difference?

mobileappThere are two major branches of mobile usage: “apps” (applications) and “the mobile web”. The mobile web is just a way of referring to all the website that have mobile-enabled pages. The term also loosely includes most of the Internet because you can still see almost any wibsite with a mobile device … you just can’t necessarily see it all that well.

Unlike mobile websites, apps are not hosted on servers. Apps are self-contained programs that are typically optimized for use on smartphones and tablets. Some apps have similar functionality to their sister websites and behave like little portable microsites, while other apps behave more like true software programs on your computer.

Apps Versus Mobile Sites for Engagement

Apps have an edge if you want a deeper, ¬†more engaged experience with your users, and if you want to make the most of the functionality of the device they’re using. For example, the way the carpenter’s level apps make use of a mobile device’s sensitivity to the angle at which it’s held.

Apps Beat Mobile Sites on Speed, But Lose on Reach

Apps are also better for response time. If you’re building a game, an app gives the player faster response than would a website. But the advantages come at a cost as apps tend to be more expensive to develop than mobile sites. You will also have to get Apple’s blessing to have your app available on iTunes, and the same goes for other smartphone platforms like Droid.

Mobile sites beat apps in terms of access because vastly more people search the web than search iTunes or any of the other app platform. That means your mobile site is more likely to get used because an app is harder to find. Apps also have to be downloaded and installed.

Data Management Limitations

For managing lots of data, apps have an edge in that they typically connect to a database where mobile websites use simpler solutions. For example, a restaurant reservation system is simple enough to with a mobile website, with email or text messages for confirmations. But a hotel reservation system that has to track room availability, rates, and other data (smoking/non-smoking, bed size, etc.) would run more smoothly with a mobile app that could draw information from a database.

Mobile Sites for Simplicity, Apps for More Robust Features

Ultimately, apps beat mobile sites in terms of speed, data management and advanced features. But all that functionality comes with a price tag. Most small businesses will do fine with a mobile version of their site, while larger companies, like a chain of retail stores or a conference, should look into developing an app.



  1. Laurie

    Thanks for sharing- we are a small agency and an app is definitely not what we need- I have a better understanding and mobile websites is definitely something for us to consider for our clients-

  2. This is good info to consider; a mobile website is something I would like to implement in 2013. It has always confused me that some websites have the app as well, and now I can see why it is helpful for some companies.

  3. Jennifer, more and more mobile searches are done from smartphones, so having a mobile site will help you stay ahead of the curve- If you have a main street location it can help with directions, if you have an online store people can order or make reservations easily right from their smart phone! plus much more- Good luck and feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have.
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  8. I think it is imperative for Small Businesses to really take a look at functionality and added value. Will your mobile site provide what you are looking for or will you have to go into app development. I completely agree that I you will have to be prepared to pay some serious money for an App which is why it is so important that you know what you want and have done your research.
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  11. Mobile websites are just a way to aware targeted customers that they have a website runs on smart devices and mobile based apps are just a program that gives facility to use their services for the targeted clients. Here you share just a good idea the different between mobile and apps.