In the early days of m-commerce it was often asked whether brands should opt for a mobile app or a mobile website.

I think most marketers now accept that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, and the decision should be made based on the business needs and aims of individual companies.

However a new report from Compuware suggests that consumer preference is strongly in favour of apps (85%) ahead of mobile sites.

The most common reason for this is that apps are seen to be more convenient (55%), faster (48%) and easier to browse (40%).

The benefit of mobile apps vs. mobile websites

Compuware’s survey found that users have high expectations of mobile apps, with 42% of respondents stating that they expect them to load quicker than a mobile website.

Just over a third (36%) said they expect apps to load at the same speed as websites, while 23% said that the mobile web should be faster to load than an app.

On average smartphone owners expect apps to load in two seconds, while 28% said that apps should load in one second or less.

This suggests that users have less patience with apps then they do with the mobile web, as a survey published last year found that smartphone owners expect mobile sites to load in four seconds. 

How quickly should a mobile app launch?

Just over half (56%) of respondents said they had experienced a problem with a mobile app in the past six months, which seems quite low based on my personal experience.

The most common problems were the mobile app crashing or freezing (62%), being slow to launch (47%) or failing to launch at all (40%).

While 79% of consumers would retry a mobile app only once or twice if it failed to work the first time, only 16% would give it more than two attempts. Poor mobile app experience is therefore likely to discourage users from using an app again.

A similar survey by Xtreme Labs found that a third of top 100 US retailers don’t have smartphone apps, while those that do suffer from issues such as a lack of features. 

The average rating achieved by iOS apps in the App Store is 2.9 stars out of five, while on Google Play it is just 2.2 out of five.

On iOS the most common complaints were a lack of features (26%), frequent crashing (23%), and poor design (22%).

Android users suffered similar problems, with crashing being the main complaint (33%), followed by the app not working as intended (26%) and a lack of features (25%).

The data in Compuware’s report comes from a survey of 3,534 smartphone users across the UK, US, France, Germany, India and Japan.