Although about a third of US mobile phone subscribers used a downloaded application in August, according to comScore, and app downloads have shown impressive growth, many mobile device users appear to think browsers offer the better user experience.
Mobile users polled by Keynote Systems for Adobe reported a preference for mobile browsers to access virtually all mobile content. Games, music and social media were the only categories in which users would rather use a downloaded app than browse the mobile web.
Their preference for mobile browsers extended to the retail category, with users showing a strong bias toward mobile browsers for accomplishing every mobile shopping task mentioned. Whether it was researching product and price info or sharing that information socially, mobile users would rather fire up a browser than a dedicated app.
These preferences may surprise mobile experts who consider apps to offer the best content and shopping experiences. And marketers may be frustrated as well; getting an app on a user’s home screen is a constant reminder of the brand, but it doesn’t make sense to offer an app users don’t want.
Consumers may simply be unimpressed by the mobile-optimized efforts they have seen so far. When the Adobe survey asked about a preference for using regular or mobile-optimized websites on their mobile device, they preferred regular sites in both the consumer products-shopping and media-entertainment categories. According to the report, this preference suggests “a low awareness of optimized experiences for the mobile web,” but users could also be frustrated with the limited functionality many mobile-optimized sites provide.
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