Adobe Says People Prefer Mobile Web, Not Apps

Consumers will have downloaded 25 billion mobile applications by 2015, a trend which prompted technology mag Wired to ponder in August if the open Web is dead. But don’t be fooled by these reports, says Adobe. In its new mobile consumer study the company found that while apps are popular, people often prefer the mobile Web.

In Adobe’s first-ever survey of mobile users, the company asked 1,200 U.S. consumers about their behavior with regards to the following categories: consumer products & shopping, financial services, media & entertainment, and travel.

According to the survey, respondents favored mobile Web experiences over apps in the products & shopping and media & entertainment categories. 66% said they prefer mobile Web to apps (34%) in these categories.

However, for social media, music, “self-contained” experiences like games and maps, consumers chose apps over the Web.

Sometimes, People Pick the Web

The point Adobe is making here is that apps, while clearly popular, aren’t more popular than the Web itself is in certain categories. There’s an untapped potential for mobile e-commerce, as 38% of respondents said they hadn’t purchased anything from the products & shopping category using their mobile phones in the last six months. Of course, Adobe has tools to help with m-commerce, like its Omniture optimization technology and Adobe Scene7 rich media platform, which it brazenly touts along with its survey results, making the findings read more like an ad than a trends report.

And that, of course, begs the question: was this survey data just a little bit too self-serving to be believed?

Adobe vs. Apps

Over recent months, Adobe’s most notable mobile achievements include having been kicked out of the Apple ecosystem entirely, publicly derided by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, then after declaring support for Android and launching Flash and AIR for Android, the company saw Apple relent and re-open its doors to Adobe developers.

In other words, when it comes to Adobe’s future on one of the top mobile platforms worldwide, it’s shaky to say the least.

But did these Apple-related troubles influence the survey’s findings? Did Adobe just want to sell its products behind the banner of supporting the mobile Web? Or could it be that consumers really do prefer the Web to apps in some categories?

We’re all for initiatives that push developers to build for the mobile Web too – the Web should not be ignored. And there certainly are opportunities out there in m-commerce. But given the high-profile nature of Adobe’s disputes with Apple this year, it’s hard to buy into anything the company claims when it comes to consumer adoption behavior, survey or not. After all, this same company thinks that consumers are demanding Flash on their mobile phones in large numbers. But 60 million+ iPhones have been sold to date, meaning some customers – a lot of customers, in fact – have been fine without it.

I’d like to hear what you think: do you trust this survey?

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