Forrester: Don't let technology confuse your mobile strategy

Traditional browsers and new mobile apps are equally likely to prevail

Marketing strategists are confusing companies about how they should reach their customers using mobile technology, and firms should use both mobile apps and the mobile web to do so, according to analyst house Forrester.

In its report, 'Why the web versus application debate is irrelevant to your mobile product strategy', Forrester said product strategists were increasingly looking to make a choice between apps and browser-based solutions.

Report author Thomas Husson wrote: "They treat this as a question of faith, saying either browser technologies will prevail in the future or that apps are the future of the internet."

The reality is that consumers are using both, he said. "The more consumers access the mobile internet, the more they download apps and vice versa."

For its report, Forrester took account of the research completed through the European Technographics Consumer Technology Online Survey, Q4 2010. This survey questioned 14,363 adults in the seven markets of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. Respondents were all members of the Ipsos-MORI online panel.

Forrester said there is a clear correlation between mobile internet and app usage. More than half of European consumers who download apps at least monthly also access the internet via their mobile phones at least daily. And, the more frequently consumers access the internet via their mobile phones, the more likely they are to download apps at least monthly. "In short, heavy app users are also heavy mobile web users," said Forrester.

"The debate around web apps, hybrid apps and optimised mobile websites is nothing but industry jargon. Consumers are interacting with brands via mobile phones using multiple technologies," the analyst said.

Forrester said technology was "leading marketing by the nose as is often the case in the mobile industry".

Mobile technologies such as HTML5, Long Term Evolution (LTE), augmented reality (AR), and Near Field Communication (NFC) can appear so promising, it said, that product strategists often forget to ask themselves the right question: "Which product and services, for which audiences, at what cost, and when?".

Forrester Recommendations

-Don't let technology dictate your mobile choices

-Focus on apps to provide optimal services to the "smartphone early majority"

-Focus on the mobile internet for audience reach and less device-centric services

-Pursue both side by side and ensure they complement each other

-Consider hybrid applications to reduce costs while maximising reach

-Remember, the boundaries between apps and the mobile internet will blur

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