We know that social media usage is migrating to mobile, but how much of that usage is channeled through apps, and how much is through browsers?
Facebook reaches about 76% of the U.S. smartphone population through its popular app, according to recent data from comScore.
But an additional 10% of smartphone owners access Facebook only through the mobile Web (using a mobile browser such as Safari or Chrome).
In other words, Facebook sees a 13% gain in audience thanks to its mobile website.
Twitter is even more dependent on the mobile Web. Twenty-one percent of the U.S. audience accesses Twitter’s app, but an additional 8% access it over the mobile Web. That’s a 38% audience “lift,” taking the app-only audience as the base, for Twitter.
Pandora is 100% dependent on its app usage.
Looking at the top smartphone properties, one interesting case is Amazon, which reaches an impressive 66.8% of U.S. smartphone users. ! However, it fails to crack comScore’s top 15 apps list, meaning its app fails to reach the thresh hold of reaching 20% of smartphone users. Amazon is clearly still dependent on the mobile Web browsers for a big chunk of its audience.
It may be true U.S. mobile users are quickly moving away from the mobile Web in favor of apps, but developers and app publishers need to keep an eye on their mobile sites too.
Since Google Maps is no longer baked into Apple’s Maps app for iPhones and iPads, using the web-based version is your best option. Google is said to be working on a standalone Google Maps app for the iPhone, but it probably won’t be ready for a few months.
Many think HTML5, a new technology that allows developers to build rich web-based apps that run on any device via a standard web browser, will save the mobile web.
However, in August, Facebook sent shock waves through the HTML5 world when it released the latest update of its iOS app. In this update, Facebook abandoned its HTML5-heavy app for one built from scratch with Apple’s iOS SDK.
In a new report from BI Intelligence, we explain why Facebook decided to abandon HTML5 for the time being, analyze the state of HTML5 and native apps, and detail why it may take even longer for HTML5 to win out than previously thought.
Here’s a brief overview of why Facebook defriended HTML5:
- HTML5 app functionality still leaves much to be desired: HTML5 is a set of related standards. Th! is is ke y to understanding the problems that beset HTML5. As such, it has progressed relatively slowly. Facebook’s iOS product manager explained to The Verge, “Up until now, we’ve looked at scale, but we’ve become aware that while we have a great mobile website, embedding HTML5 inside an app isn’t what people expect.”
- And, HTML5 has a fragmentation problem: This is the very problem it is often trumpeted as a solution to. According to Appcelerator’s Michael King, there is a 30% differential on feature support across browsers. In other words, some HTML5 features may be supported in Chrome, but not in Safari or Firefox. This problem carries into mobile browsers as well.
- The success of Facebook’s mobile website underscored this issue: Just last April, Facebook said that its HTML5 mobile site had twice the number of users as its iOS and Android apps combined. This actually presented a problem for Facebook: iOS and Android’s mobile browsers don’t support a consistent feature set, including photo uploads! , a crit ical feature for Facebook.
- Apple and Google refused to help: Facebook started a Mobile W3C Community Group to promote the development of mobile browsers. Apple and Google, who combine for more than 85% of the global smartphone market and have a vested interest in the native app ecosystem, never signed on. The dream of building one HTML5 app and deploying across all platforms never becme a reality.
- But, the promise of HTML5 remains: Zuckerberg had this to say about HTML5: “It’s not that HTML5 is bad. I’m actually, long-term, really excited about it” His regret was not that Facebook spent two years dithering on HTML5, but that it spent two years on HTML5 when it wasn’t ready, or, as he put it, “it just wasn’t there.”
In full, BI Intelligence’s reports on HTML5 analyze:
- Why the HTML5-vs-Apps debate matters, breaking down its impact on distribution, monetization, platform power and network effects, and functionality.
- The success of an HTML5 pioneer, The Financial Times.How and when HTML5 will take over, laying out how it has all the hallmarks of a disruptive technology.
- What an HTML5 future will look like, with the promise of richer and more interactive experiences.
- Why native apps are winning now, and why it is taking so long for HTML5 to win out
Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
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