Mobile Users Prefer Browsers over Apps

Joe D
It seems as if everywhere we look these days, people are talking about apps. Apps for games, apps for iPhones, Android phones and apps for Blackberry phones – they seem to be absolutely everywhere. In fact, a recent study from comScore revealed that as much as a third of mobile phone subscribers in the US downloaded an application in August 2010, proving that apps have had an impressive growth period, despite the downturn in the economy. However, when asked, many mobile users have stated that they prefer browsers over apps, citing a better overall user experience.

Adobe contracted independent research company Keynote Systems to survey mobile users to find out about their preferences. Music, social media and games were the only categories where users stated they preferred to use an app over a browser to view content, but for everything else a browser was the top choice.

This preference of using a browser over an app has also been seen in the retail industries, with many users stating that they preferred using a browser for shopping rather than a shopping or store-specific app. This preference held true for every stage of the shopping experience, including gathering price information, product research or sharing products with friends via social tools.

The new data uncovered in this research may be surprising to some experts within the social market, as many consider apps to be the best way to view content or shop via mobile phones. Marketers, on the other hand, tend to prefer that users shop via their app, as downloading the app keeps the brand of the store or product on the home screen of the user. However, consumers are so far unimpressed by the apps that are being provided by businesses and other services, and concerned with privacy and personal data issues.

Another part of the survey included preferences about viewing websites that have been optimized for mobile use and regular websites. Most users preferred to use regular sites, when given the option, for viewing content such as media/entertainment and shopping for consumer products and services. Some analysts believe that these preferences for using browsers and viewing regular websites instead of apps or sites that are optimized specifically for mobile use reveal a “low awareness” of the programs and experiences that have been created specifically for the Web rather than a real preference.

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