Why your mobile strategy should include both native apps and responsive websites

There is no doubt that mobile devices are significantly changing how users are accessing information online.  There are two camps of thought on this in the development world. One is the group that believes that web standards such as HTML5 will make it easy and affordable for developers to build responsive designed websites that work on all platforms and make the need for native apps obsolete.  The other camp is the native app development camp that believes building apps that are deeply integrated into the market leading devices will bring the best user experience. 

For a marketer looking at mobile as a way to communicate with their target audience, they should think heavily about how they want their content to be perceived.  Is the universal responsive approach the best approach when on average 60% of their mobile accesses are coming from Apple devices where the use of mobile apps heavily outweighs web usage?  Conversely, should a marketer consider building native apps for BlackBerry and Windows mobile a strong consideration for a marketer when they account for less than 5% of all accesses to their content? 

Perceptive marketers realize the value their target audience places on their content, and how frequently their customers will want to access it.  Premium content that has strong value in a mobile environment should demand a native application treatment on the leading Android and iPhone platforms.  The assessment of additional platforms should be made on the relative marginal uptake of those platforms.  In our experience, BlackBerry and Windows mobile app downloads lag iPhone downloads by a 20:1 ratio.  Now an extra 5% may be enough to warrant native treatment based on the value of your content. 

This of course assumes that the cost of developing native apps is at a premium over responsive websites, however that is proving less and less of a case.  Our software as a service approach to mobile application development and deployment puts native development across multiple platforms on par with responsive website redesigns.  This means the marketer can go back to focusing on enriching the value of their content and campaigns rather than worrying about the best technology approach.  We optimized the content viewing to best platform practices.