Role of mobile apps in a responsive world

Hey everyone, I’ve googled this, discussed this with collaegues in my design firm, but haven’t gotten to know the answer really.

Why do some companies pester you with downloading their apps when you browse them using your phone and they have a perfectly looking responsive website which works wonderfully on your mobile? Is it like they get a revenue off their apps? Does downloading their app ensure return back users?

For example, look at this screenshot of my mobile for an e-commerce website in India. And they have a perfectly responsive website.

I totally fail to understand the role of apps when we can have responsive websites to work across every platform.

Any thoughts?

Because they’re stooooopid. :stuck_out_tongue:

I guess it’s trendy to have an app, and if you’ve gone to the trouble of making it, then you want people to know about it. But it sure is annoying.

I suspect it’s one of those things you’d classify as “the immature web”—where time and experience will make people realise this sort of thing is idiotic.


I think there are some instances where apps are genuinely useful.

  • The need for offline data access (documents, photos, something)
  • The need to access the user’s phone directly (better location, alerts, et cetera)
  • Providing entirely different functionality than the current website

Et cetera.

However, most companies that hardcore push their apps - at least, a lot of the ones that I’ve seen - are almost duplicates of their responsive site. If the app costs… obviously they’re just trying to make money, I guess. When it’s free… they may have different ad programs in the app that generate more revenue? Or a bad business plan? - nuff said :slight_smile:

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I don’t get apps at all, not for things that can be done perfectly well by a normal website. Sure, some sites that have really rich interaction, eg Google Maps, will benefit from an app, because you need different control mechanisms on a touch screen. But apart from those rare cases, most apps are just great big ego trips.

I find this a particular problem because I use Windows Phone. Call me a heretic if you like, but I prefer it to the other OSs by a million miles. But pretty much noone makes apps for Windows Phone. Android, yes. Apple, of course. BlackBerry, maybe. Windows, zilch. So when companies only make content or services available to mobile users through their app, I’m screwed. And it’s really annoying, when most of the time they could just as easily have written a mobile website that is fully cross-browser compatible to do exactly the same thing.

Apps are beloved by marketing people because it gives them a sexy product they can sell to the company and sell (or at least promote) to users, and they may be able to harvest more personal data from it as well. But for users, mostly it’s a complete waste of time.

Unfortunately there are too many gullible people out there who have fallen for it and think they can only use an online service on their mobile if it comes as an app.