mobile app vs web app

‘’Mobile app vs. Web app” is a question that haunts a startup owner even in his/her sleep. Rightly so. Entering the market with the right product helps a startup navigate its way successfully through the highly competitive environment.   

But how does a startup decide between the two? By learning about the software in-depth as well as with thorough market and user research. What else? Read through our blog to know what else a startup needs to consider while choosing between a mobile and a web app.   

What is a Mobile App?  

A mobile app is a software that is built for mobile devices. These apps are published and downloaded from the respective app store of the device and aim at serving specific user purposes.   

Mobile apps are programmed to work on particular platforms such as iOS and Android, and access their native features such as camera, GPS, etc. These apps can also work without a continuous internet connection and are believed to be faster and more user-friendly than web apps.   

Mobile apps are practical pieces of software that simplify as well as add entertainment to the lives of their users. With frequent updates, these apps allow users to access the most advanced features and functionalities.   

Let’s look at some of the advantages of a mobile app to a startup.   

Advantages of Developing a Mobile App  

Some advantages a startup could gain from a mobile app:  

advantages of mobile app

1. Builds brand image: Mobile apps are right there on the mobile screens, offering awareness about the brand and its products to the user/customer 24*7. The user could relate to the brand story, values, and aesthetics more easily through accessible mobile apps.   

Moreover, with a mobile app, the chances of regular engagement increase. With higher interaction, a business is able to build trust with its customers.   

2. Offers personalization: A mobile app has more features and personalized feels to it than a web app. These apps are more user-specific and display data that interests a particular user.   

3. Work faster: Mobile apps are said to be faster than web apps. This allows users to access the required information/product/service quicker and enhance their experience. This is possible because mobile apps store their information locally which makes the data more readily available to the user.   

4. Works both, online and offline: Some mobile apps are capable of working without an internet connection, which is not possible with any web app. This allows some mobile apps to be truly very portable and remotely accessible. A user can load and access data anytime, from anywhere without worrying about an available or stable internet connection.   

5. Easier access and convenient to use: Mobile apps are convenient to use and right in front of the user around the clock. This makes the user spend relatively more time on them than on web apps.   

It is as simple as in a market with already established brands, the more a startup would make it easier for users to avail of its products and services, the better it would be for it. It gives a startup the much-required visibility and chances to earn higher profits.   

6. Stronger safety and security: Mobile apps offer greater data safety and security to their users. These apps integrate with the device’s current security features and ensure the security of their data.   

7. Quicker customer service/support: With a mobile app accessible round the clock, customer services become more reachable and effective. This enhances customer experience, brand trust, and loyalty. 

With good products and services, these advantages make a customer visit the app again and again.   

However, there are some cons of mobile apps too that startups need to consider before making a decision.   

Disadvantages of Developing a Mobile App  

Some disadvantages of mobile apps:   

Disadvantages of Mobile app

1. Difficult entry: Native apps especially Apple apps have strict entry barriers and restrictions for their app store presence. Along with technical and security prerequisites, iOS apps also need to follow UI and usability guidelines. Failing to comply with the same leads to rejection. This could be a huge demotivator as well as cost additional resources.   

2. Regular support and maintenance: A mobile app requires regular fixes and updates to remain secure and high-performing. The users hence need to download and install new updates often. Whereas, for web apps, updates are executed automatically without requiring any user intervention.  

3. Limited compatibility and accessibility: Mobile apps are sometimes designed for specific platforms, such as Android or iOS app development and thus, multiple versions must be created for different platforms.   

Additionally, they can be accessed from devices that share compatibility with the operating system they have been designed for.   

4. Expensive and time-consuming ventures: Different languages are used to develop mobile apps for different platforms. This requires significant time and money investments. Native app developers are required to create different mobile app versions for each platform.   

Now that we have learned about mobile apps, it’s time to get to know web apps.   

Also read: Mobile App Development – Ultimate Guide 

What is a Web App?  

A web app is software that completely runs on the web browser and can be accessed by any device with an internet connection. These apps are compatible with multiple operating systems. Moreover, the user does not need to download or install these apps, which makes them accessible and convenient software.   

These apps are responsive and adapt to different screen sizes and resolutions, ensuring a uniform user experience. Further, the updates for a web app happen automatically, without the user’s contribution.   

As the technology matures, web apps can span over various pages as well as be restricted to a single page.   

Now that we know what a web app is, let us look at its pros and cons.   

Advantages of Developing a Web App  

Some advantages that come out of a web app are:  

Advantages of web app


1. Easy accessibility: With a web app, the business can be visible and accessible on any device. This is a huge advantage for a startup. Without spending big bucks when the resources are already limited at the start, startups can reach a wider audience.   

Since these apps need not be downloaded from any app store and do not require storage in the device, users are more likely to engage with them. This is a massive advantage for the web apps in the entire mobile app vs. web app dilemma.   

2. Not heavy on the pocket: The development costs of a web app are way lower than mobile apps. This is because web apps:  

– Do not require separate versions for multiple operating systems.  

– Responsive web apps adapt seamlessly to different screen sizes and resolutions and hence, there is no need to customize them for different devices.   

– Moreover, major app stores i.e., Apple and Google charge a 30% revenue cut on app deals, including subscriptions and in-app purchases (IAPs). With web apps, there are no such revenue cuts.   

Thus, for a young startup, that is already on a tight budget, web apps could be the better, more cost-effective option.   

3. Higher searchability: With so many people browsing and scrolling through social media apps, web apps are more discoverable and conveniently accessed than mobile apps. Users look for desired content on search engines such as Google and Yahoo rather than looking through app stores.  

A report stated that Google received over 63,000 searches per second on a given day and 5.6 billion searches per day back in 2018. While another report stated that over 500 million people visited the App Store every week in the same year. The difference between the figures is too steep.   

This is exactly when web apps make a better option than mobile apps for startups. They give them the much-required initial visibility and engagement. Another great advantage for the latter is the entire mobile app development vs. web app development debate.   

4. Automatic updates: With web apps, the users do not need to download and install updates manually. When it is updated by the businesses, the changes are made available to all the users right away. The errors are fixed and pushed live in seconds.   

This is not the case with mobile apps. A lot of time is consumed while making even the smallest changes for mobile apps. A build with corrections/changes must be uploaded to App Store Connect or Google Play Console.   

Afterwards, the alpha or beta versions have to be tested completely and the update is then submitted for a survey. The update generally goes live between 24-48 hours after submission. This is a long and consuming process.   

While these were some of the advantages of web apps over mobile apps and even generally, let’s also look at their drawbacks for a fair decision.

Disadvantages of Developing a Web App 

While a web app has some very solid advantages, it is not free from shortcomings. Some of its disadvantages are: 

Disadvantages of web app

1. Limited features and functionality: Web apps do not have a lot of advanced features and functionalities like mobile apps do. This is because the data is not stored on the devices through them, and thus they cannot access the device-specific features that native apps can.   

The non-accessibility to the hardware features limits the functionalities of a web app. This might also make them less engaging and immersive in comparison to iOS or Android mobile apps.   

2. Does not work offline: Web apps cannot work in an offline mode like the native apps. They require a web browser and a proper internet connection on the device to work their magic. While progressive web apps (PWAs) support offline execution, it is not guaranteed at all times.   

3. Slower than mobile apps: Web apps usually take more loading times than mobile apps. Their speed primarily depends on the internet connection of the user, which is a major drawback. In case of a slow, discontinuous, or unstable internet connection, web apps might not be the most attractive option.   

Moreover, these apps also function slower than native mobile and desktop applications.   

4. Fewer monetization options: With web apps, businesses have limited app monetization options. This is because users are less likely to make in-app purchases or subscribe to premium services.   

5. Low quality and security: In comparison to mobile apps, web apps have lower quality and security provisions. This is because they need not follow any strict guidelines of any app store or platform. Thus, quality and security may not be prioritized during development. This is a major disadvantage that web apps have in the mobile app vs. web app discussion.   

Well, it is now time to briefly differentiate these two types of apps for more clarity for startups and list points to consider while making the most suitable decision.   

Mobile App vs. Web App 

Below is the table of differences between mobile apps and web apps:  

Mobile apps  Web apps  
Platform-specific, unless it is a hybrid app  One app works on every platform, device, and system’s version  
Elaborate and expensive development process   Quicker, easier, and cheaper to build  
Faster and have more advanced features and functionalities Slower and have fewer features and functionalities 
Can work in both offline and online mode Only works in online mode 
Updates are time-consuming Automatic updates 
Developers require more skill and expertise in advance technologies and languages; difficult to find and expensive.  Developers need to know the widely used and easier technologies and languages such as JavaScript, CSS, HTML, .NET, and Python; are easier to find.   

Factors to Consider in Mobile App vs. Web Apps  

Now that we have a fair understanding of both mobile app and web app as well as mobile app vs. web app, let’s now learn about the points to remember while coming up with a decision for your startup.   

1. Customer/User preferences  

Knowing your market as well as the target audience is always a good idea and hence, should be the first one. When you decide to introduce something in an already ‘brimming-with-products/services’ and a highly competitive marketplace, you need to do all your homework thoroughly. Market and user research is a prerequisite for product development.   

Before investing huge amounts into a product, it is highly recommended to know the market demands/requirements, product gaps, as well as the tastes and preferences of your target audiences.  

User research may include the type of users, how frequently they open apps/search engines, how remote or accessible their location is, if they have a stable internet connection, etc. These are some of the important questions that would help a business decide between a mobile or a web app.  

A startup must always ensure that the market needs the product that it will be offering. Moreover, it needs to make sure that it is offering its products and services in the most convenient ways to the user.  

Thousands of products are rejected every year, adding to the list of market failures. Proper market research, among other things, ensures that a business does not have to go through a market failure.   

2. Your budget   

Budget plays a major role when a business is investing in any technology, especially for a startup that is already entering the marketplace with limited resources. A mobile app is a costly affair. While a web app is a relatively cheaper option.   

With a mobile app, the UI should be adjusted to each platform. Therefore, a startup must invest massive data to create different apps for multiple platforms and must pay higher prices as per the OS.   

Therefore, the decision majorly depends on the budget of the startup. If it has a budget that would be enough for a mobile app, then there are other considerations that could be factored into reaching the best decision.   

3. Business Type  

A lot depends on the type of business and the type of app it requires to achieve its goals. For example, if a business is about investments and final market elements, then it should go for a mobile app for more speed and security.   

Similarly, if you are a gaming company, then you might need to invest in a mobile app as it offers more speed, integration with emerging technologies, and an immersive experience that might be required for this kind of industry.    

However, if you are an apparel startup, you might consider a responsive web app. As engagement, revenue, and funds grow, you can switch to a mobile app for a higher-quality experience. 

4. Personalization levels required  

The level of personalization you want to offer to your users in your app also decides the winner in the mobile app vs. web app. If your app generates more utility by collecting user data and offering recommendations, then a mobile app is the way to go. However, if it does not depend a lot on personalized content, then a web app would work just fine.    

For example, media and entertainment apps such as Netflix and Spotify thrive on user data. These apps leverage the user data to detect user patterns/behaviors, tastes, and preferences to make the entire journey more customized and hence, better for a user.   

5. Features and functionalities required  

Features and functionalities that you would want to offer to your users decide the type of app to a great extent. If your app would deliver better by accessing the native features or advanced features and functionalities, then a mobile app should be your choice.   

On the other hand, if your app could prove to be practical with basic features and functionalities without accessing the hardware features, then the web app will fit your requirements.   

For example, if your app requires GPS, device camera, speaker, mic, etc., to serve its purpose, then a mobile app is a better option.   

On the other hand, if the startup is planning on displaying data reports and analysis through its app, then it should do it either on a web app or a website as using complex reporting, calculations, number data, etc., might be too cumbersome on a mobile app. Native apps could perform well in this case but be too costly to develop for a startup.   

6. Frequency of updates  

The frequency of updates is another important deciding factor in the mobile app vs. web app discourse. If a startup feels that it needs to add improvements or updates frequently to its app or change the content often, then mobile apps, especially the native ones, could be a really costly affair.   

It could instead start with a web app or a website and then gradually shift to a cross-platform or a hybrid mobile app, as the business grows, for cost-effectiveness.   

Also read: Hybrid Vs. Native Vs. Cross-platform

In case of frequent updates for a mobile app, the business would have to update apps on different platforms separately and wait for days for the changes to go live. This might be too time-consuming and cost-intensive for a startup. Therefore, web apps are a better option if your app requires frequent updates or changes.   

Still confused? No worries!  

To make things simpler, we are giving you the use cases for web apps and mobile apps in our next section.   

Mobile App vs. Web App: When Should You Choose What?  

Following are the use cases for mobile apps and web apps: 

When should you build a mobile app:  The app will be accessed multiple times in a day 
The app needs to access hardware or native features 
Push notifications have to be sent to the users 
The product could be searched for/checked out even offline by the users 
There are location or navigation-based elements involved 
High app performance is a priority 
When should you build a web app:  A larger audience must be reached 
There are frequent updates or improvements needed  
Development time and costs are limited 
You are seeking a quick launch for your ready product 

 Mobile App vs. Web App: Which One to Choose for Your Startup  

This has been a popular conundrum: mobile app vs. web app, for startups or any business that wants to build a product. However, there is no clear winner here.   

Both the software have their own pros and cons and more importantly, their use cases. Mobile apps, and web apps, both are popular and widely used software. However, when it comes to a particular scenario, one might be a better fit than the other.  

Moreover, it depends on the product requirements. If a startup is prioritizing performance, quality, advanced features, and security, then a mobile app should be chosen. However, if it is entering with a limited budget and time, which is more often the case than not, then web apps should be opted for.   

And similarly, there are multiple factors that help. A startup decides between the two types of apps. A thorough market research and user research are a must for such a kind of decision.   

Lastly, the right software development partner also helps businesses make the most practical and relevant product. Thus, choose your software development partner carefully so that you get the right guidance throughout the development process.   

One with extensive experience and industry exposure such as BigOhTech, among other things, will help you create a lucrative product for your budding business.   


Leave a Comment