Should new companies build an app before a website?

By March 4, 2014Mobile


As you can see from the chart above time spent accessing the web from mobile apps has now passed time spent accessing the web for PCs. Moreover, the trends are only going one way, which begs the question of when it will become the norm for startups to build an app before they build a website.

Up until now there have been a few ‘mobile first’ startups, but they have been the exception rather than the norm. I see that balance shifting. We are close to backing our first (maybe the first) ‘mobile first’ ecommerce business.

Remember also that the action is increasingly phones now rather than tablets.



  • Every Interaction

    Anyone who makes such a decision on traffic alone is doomed to fail

  • There’s still far more people using the web than using apps, even if app users are using the web for a long time. Web sites remain far more discoverable – do you see lots of apps that link to other (not made by same company) apps by way of a “hey look at this”? Additionally build a decent website, works on all platforms – and as Android just exceeded iOS popularity on tablets, with phones being a long time ago, you can start by making one site to potentially reach everybody on the net, or two apps and not even have the potential to reach most people.

    Further, the next surge in mobile usage is likely to be from FirefoxOS (Brazil, India in particular), which uses HTML5 for most of apps. So build one site, add in some HTML5 cleverness, have the potential to reach everybody (more or less) and maybe build apps if it turns out your niche prefers it. Only build app first if your business approach needs the mobile element to be interesting – and even then, first build a site at the very least with “about” info and links to the app, support etc..

  • Hi Chris – I agree the web is still bigger and has many advantages over mobile. My point is that the balance is shifting and that an increasing percentage of startups will be truly mobile first. The distinction between an app and a mobile site is an interesting one. I’ve always thought that the web would regain ground from apps, but it isn’t happening much yet.

    Also – my headline might have been a bit provocative.

  • Provocative headlines? We expect nothing else 🙂

  • josephcruise101

    More and more people surfing the web with mobile. So app is more important for company nowadays.. business apps can increase revenue.. customers/clients can contact them in easy way..