One of the first questions that one may ask a digital expert is – what is the cost to create an app. Leave side the cost for marketing and maintaining the app, App development is a cash cow for many tech outfits.
Truly, the native app experience is the reason why apps dominate the content consumption (App usage is 90% of the time on Mobile). This trend may fundamentally change.We are in middle of most exciting times where mobile is concerned, and we now can consider moving beyond Apps. Started by Google and Facebook browsers, we may soon see browsers becoming the new apps and deliver similar native experience.
Consider the following reasons.
Reason 1: Mobile browsing has become faster
I’m quite excited about Accelerated Mobile Pages (About AMP, also read my previous article). WordPress opens my posts on mobile blazingly fast, as it has in built converter to AMP. This sets me thinking that may be in future this feature of WordPress may be a default feature in CMS out there in the market especially those who are in news article publishing. Also check the AMP video on Google Amp Project website, which opens fast. Though there are limited features, every quarter new features are getting added. Such as now forms can be used on AMPs
Progressive Web Applications (PWA) is another technology stack which is making the browser work better to enable more native app like experience. Consider some of these PWA enabled websites on your mobile for the experience what Was can deliver. One of the best feature is that you can let the user “Add to Home screen” to create a home screen button which will take the user directly to the website. Find more handy resource on PWAs here.
Reason 2: I don’t want to have another app in my phone
According to emarketer report, a new app may not be retained for even a single day. 71% of the apps were deleted on the Android platform on the first day itself and the number became 97% by the end of the month. The frequency of the usage would dominate the app retention. Such as you are more likely to retain social (Facebook, snapchat etc), ecommerce (Amazon, Flipkart), taxi hailing app (Uber, Careem), and banks etc. However one time utility apps such as an app made for standalone hotel is most likely to be deleted.
Reason 3: Discovery of an App is a question
If the app is downloaded organically, it has more chances to to be retained compared to forced push one. After 30 days an organically downloaded app has 156% more chances to be retained compared to one which has been pushed. In addition, consider that it takes marketing monies and effort to put the apps on the iOS or Android App Store, till the time an app gains relevance (which is any where between 2-3 months depending on the budget for app marketing or push). The inaccurate app tracking and calculating the ROI of the efforts makes such efforts more questionable. Especially with products with one time use, I find it hard to justify an app such as stand alone independent hotels. It would be easier to get a website site with good native experience and some of the app features such as the browser push notifications to get a richer experience.
Reason 4: Optimise Content Management effort for Web & Mobile
One of the advantages of using a responsive web design is that one can start thinking on content across multiple devices. Rather than duplicating efforts for a website and a mobile (mobile device content should be shorter and precise), one can manage content easily, reducing the effort and time needed. Most CMS’s would like to hear this as this would reduce the gains from a promising app content management product.
Reason 5: Deliver device agnostic experience: Mobile first, multi-device second
As more and more content is being consumed by mobile, it become important that mobile is placed in the centre of the digital experience consideration set. However, the world is increasingly becoming multi-device. Comscore study indicates that more instant and functional content will be browsed on mobile, while detailed content on many device. Hence critical to simulate the same experience across devices (courtesy Comscore).
For a stand alone hotel, it is much easier and cost effective to streamline the experience using a web strategy (using PWA) rather than creating an App. Unless one has volume such Marriott, Hilton or Accor.
So, carefully consider options before you jump into spending a million dollar to create an app, when you can get the same experience at probably fraction of the cost. In the brave new world, Browsers are the new Apps!