Alterian has waded into the mobile web vs app debate with a nice, tube map-style infographic which takes the view that a mobile website is the way forward. 

We’ve talked about the apps vs web debate on this blog for some time, and we tend to lean towards a mobile website, certainly as a first step into mobile commerce, but we also think there is plenty of room for both. 

As Stefan Tornquist wrote in a recent post on the issue, there is a middle ground here, and apps still have a role in companies’ retention strategies, if there is a compelling reason to download and use them. 

There are also some features of apps that currently cannot be replicated so easily on the mobile web, such as barcode readers like the ones used in the Amazon and Debenhams apps. 

Other pros of apps include better functionality, the extra visibility afforded by the App Store, and the ability to appeal to a more affluent audience of smartphone users. 

However, while many early apps were releases on the back of figures showing large numbers of visits from iPhone users, the growth of Android means this is not such a compelling argument anymore. 

The greater reach, findability, the potential of HTML5, and the ability to sidestep the App Store approval process means that, at least for a first move into mobile, the website wins the argument.

The infographic does make its point, but ignores some of the potential drawbacks of mobile web, such as variable mobile internet connections and page load times.

It is possible to see the drawbacks of both approaches and still decide that a mobile website is the best first step. See this version of the same infographic from @timmcdunn for an alternative view. 

Here are 10 other mobile infographics on QR codes, mobile retail and marketing if you want more…