Apple has over 300,000 apps, Google over 100,000 and after just one week, Microsoft over 1,000 in its store, yet users often prefer browsers for getting some of the most common things done on their smartphone.According to eMarketer, when it comes to things like reading product reviews, news, sports scores, blogs and checking the weather, over half of those surveyed preferred using their phone's browser rather than an installable application. Even when it comes to video, 58% preferred watching it in a web page versus launching an app to watch it.
Not surprisingly though, for games and music, applications are the preferred way to experience those. The one area that surprised me a bit was for social services like Twitter and Facebook. Only 46% preferred the browser while 54% would rather use an app. Count me with the 46% on that one.
When it comes to online shopping, web sites are better off spending their resources making sure their sites are low bandwidth and optimized for a browser rather than creating custom applications. For product research, searching for items, customer reviews, finalizing the purchase, tracking the shipment and sharing your purchase decision with friends, the browser is king. In fact, for all twelve categories asked about for shopping, the browser won in every category.
For me, I'll usually take the browser when possible. When you have multiple devices, the browser is the equalizer. While the sites look may differ from device to device somewhat, usually the features are the same. You also don't have to install dozens of apps on your devices and worry about keeping them up to date.
What about you? If you have access to a decent mobile web site would you generally prefer to use that or would you try and find an application to use the site's services instead?