Mobile web is alive

We visit companies and talk to colleagues in the industry and talk to mobile developers, and we often hear the phrase ‘mobile web is dead and apps are the bomb!’

Perhaps we should set the record straight.

There is no doubt the way people access and gain information on mobile devices is changing the dynamics of what we’ve come to call the internet. On mobile devices, people can have information served to them exactly the way they need it, as opposed to going out and searching for it on that old web browser. One can easily download an app to get content from the NYTimes, USA Today or CNN. Gone are the days of needing to go to a major news website to get the latest news. Major brands have long understood mobile needs to come first and even mid to small size content sites have come to develop their own apps, even if that means using app maker services like Como.

So it’s easy to see why someone would think the mobile web is dead. And some studies have quantified this — here’s a recent one by Flurry. But if we’d like to talk numbers, here are some other recent numbers: Mobile web might be 15% of traffic to mobile, but it’s 80% of the revenue.

So why do we think mobile web is alive and why do we believe it will keep on rocking? The answer is apps actually. The same apps that are supposedly hijacking the mobile web, are in fact powering it. You see, the way these apps are built is actually extending the mobile web, the reality of the situation is that many apps link directly to mobile friendly versions of a web page. And when it comes to content, a lot of mobile content is being consumed this way. Just click on a link in your newsfeed on Facebook to see for yourself. Search a restaurant with yelp you’ll eventually get the restaurant page. Read an item on your favorite reading list app, most of them will lead you to original page. The lsit goes own. The gateway to content these days, is still only gateway. The reality is that the revenue and the control is being hijacked, rather than the traffic. Most of mobile web traffic is on the actual web that sometimes just comes to you served by those apps.

It might sound like semantics, but here’s why it matters. Mobile web studies point marketers and to spend their hard earned dollars where the traffic exists. And so most seem to think they would be served well by displaying a banner inside and app. This might work for some — app discovery is blooming inside game apps. But let’s not be misled to think this is where the traffic is. 20% of mobile traffic might be in web, but let’s not trick ourselves into thinking that web traffic served in your facebook mobile app (18%) and other social networks and news apps (6% and 2% respectively), are entirely spent gazing at the feed. We are betting our bottom dollar it’s spent reading a recent article or watching a YouTube video.

This architecture actually increases web traffic, apps are delivering the search and filter mechanism to get you to the right place in the WEB. We might believe we are witnessing the death of mobile web, when we’re seeing a shift in it’s consumption gateway.

All hail the mobile web.