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Apps, mobile Web will continue to coexist: Forrester

Despite the hype surrounding mobile applications, use of the mobile Internet continues to grow right along with mobile apps, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

Developing mobile solutions should not be an either or decision, with marketers building a mobile strategy around apps exclusively or the mobile Internet, per the report, ?Why The ?Web Versus Application? Debate Is Irrelevant To Your Mobile Product Strategy.? Instead, given consumer interest in both, companies should look at building complementary app and mobile Internet services.

?Because lots of media attention focuses on apps, consumer product strategy professionals tend to remove the mobile Internet from their road map ? believing that usage has switched forever to the app environment,? states the report from Cambridge, MA-based Forrester.

Forrester?s research, however, shows that heavy app users are also heavy mobile Web users.

More than half (51 percent) of European consumers who download apps regularly also access the mobile Internet at least daily.

And, the majority of North American consumers who have interacted with brand via a mobile device have used a combination of SMS, apps and browsers.

App users are mobile Web users, too
And, even though iPhone users have download a significant portion of the more than 10 billion apps that have been downloaded since the launch of the Apple App Store, they are still mobile Internet users, with 72 percent of European iPhone owners accessing the mobile Internet on a daily basis.

Both app and mobile Web usage are also growing.

A third of United States smartphone owners download apps at least monthly. Of the 13 percent of mobile owners who download apps monthly, 51 percent use a music app, 49 percent a games app and 45 percent  a social networking app.

Target has a mobile app and a mobile Web site

As smartphone adoption increases, so will app downloads.

The U.S. is also likely to see the number of smartphone owners reach 159 million in 2015, up from 82 million in 2010.

However, mobile Web use is also significant among consumers and will continue to be for some time as a notable  number of consumers worldwide continue to use feature phones to access the mobile Web.

Overall mobile Internet adoption reached 43 percent of European online consumers in 2010, up from 32 percent in 2009. The key factors driving this growth are higher levels of smartphone ownership, more affordable data plans and marketing of mobile Web sites by brands.

?Forrester believes that an increasing number of companies will mobilize their mobile Web sites and champion their benefits to educate customers on using the Internet on the go,? the report states.

Co-existence will continue
Mobile Internet users have also become more active, with 25 percent of European online consumers accessing the mobile Web at least weekly, up from 15 percent in 2009.

The No. 1 reason by far that European consumers gave for not accessing the mobile Web was a lack of need to do so.

Given the findings, Forrester recommends that companies consider using the mobile Internet and apps in different contexts keeping in mind that apps are often used for frequently accessed content and services while mobile browsing is more occasional and focused on content and services that are accessed less frequently.

Forrester also suggests companies embrace a cross-platform approach to mobile, using the synchronize preferences for multi-device-owning customers.

?In multi-device, multi-connection world, product strategists need more than a good product with a connection to win customer loyalty,? the report states.

They need to create a digital customer relationship and deliver that in a continuously connected experience across many devices,? it states.

Final Take
Forrester on curated computing