Are Mobile Apps a Threat to the Web?

As Mobile Month here on the Distilled blog draws to a close, two members of the team discuss whether the rise of mobile apps poses a threat to the web as we know it.

"adoption of mobile web devices is booming"

"trying to build walled gardens on the internet has failed repeatedly"

Bridget Randolph, Consultant at Distilled


Mobile technology is improving rapidly and worldwide adoption of mobile web devices is booming. By 2013, global smartphone usage was at 22% (from 5% in 2009), and is predicted to reach 59% by 2019. Even PCs are increasingly adopting mobile-style interfaces with touchscreens and native apps.

In 2013, US smartphone users spent 80% of their time on mobile using apps rather than web browsers, and in 2014, time spent on mobile devices exceeded time on desktops for the first time. The challenge for the future won't be apps vs. web but rather how to make your app stand out from the noise.

Will Critchlow, CEO at Distilled


My strongest argument is history. Trying to build walled gardens on the internet has failed repeatedly.

Most of the time spent in apps is spent messaging and gaming. The vast majority of content is still consumed on the web or from the web within an app.

Publishers (and brands as publishers) will stick with the web. Humanity has seen the power of search. If publishers choose to lock their content inside apps that can’t be indexed, we will lose search as we know it. App indexing is as ultimately futile as indexing Flash.

Join the debate!

What are your thoughts on the threat posed by mobile apps to the web as we know it? Will the web browser go the way of the dinosaur? Or will it remain an important part of how people access and use the internet? Reply in the comments below.

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About the author
Bridget Randolph

Bridget Randolph

Bridget joined Distilled in November 2012. An American born and bred (originally from a small Virginia town), Bridget came to the UK as a grad student in 2010, and didn't want to leave! In September 2012, she completed an M.Sc. in social...   read more