To App or not to App

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A particularly interesting bit of research for the USA on the adoption of pads/smartphones and how they help to deliver news to their owners. The research shows that with the introduction of cheaper tablets and smartphones in 2011, this has lead to a huge increase in the number of Americans accessing the web through these devices. Actually, the research showed that half of all Americans now have a mobile connection to the ‘net.

In 2011 and 2012, many of the print publishing companies jumped on the ubiquitous ‘app’ – you have to have an app if you want to converse with your customers on the mobile web dimension. And there were many companies out there to help publishers spend plenty money on these apps.

Perhaps when the smartphone and their limited screen dimensions were king of the hill, the ‘app’ was the way forward. A bit like the way WAP was a necessary evil to access the net in the late 90’s. It was functional, efficient (to a point) and did what it said it would do – get you connected to the ‘net. But it was terrible really, so much so that it prompted a story in one of the UK weekend editions to white an article on the technology with a headline “WAP the “C” at the start is silent” (I paraphrased).

Some publishers didn’t march like sheep to the app beat and decided that they would stick to a platform that would be in their control and that would adapt with the net. They opted for HTML5 and abandoned the app. The pioneer for that was the FT.

The research from the States suggests that the have possibly made a very wise decision: 60% of all tablet and smartphone users get their news through the browsers on those devices and not through a publishers app.  As the tablets begin to mimic the dimensions of screen, why would you want a ‘app’ to render that information.   

A glance at the ComScore data below shows how smartphones are begging to dominate the market and the rise of the browser over the last two years. With the screen dimension getting bigger and bigger and the speeds getting quicker, the humble app may be overtaken by the simple browser.  Also worth noting is the increase in networking sites.    


Mobile Usage 2012 2011 2010
Used Smartphone 48.80% 37.90% 26.40%
Used browser 42.40% 32.80% 26.20%
Sent text message 83.10% 82.20% 82.50%
Listened to music 28.90% 26.10% 24.60%
Accessed Social Networking Site or Blog 29.00% 21.90% 15.30%

US Mobile Research

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