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Native Mobile Apps vs. Cross-Platform Apps vs. Websites

Alex Ya'akobov, VP & General Manager, 200 Apps
March 30, 2023

In today's digital world, businesses must have a strong online presence to succeed. In addition, with the rise of mobile devices, companies must have mobile-friendly platforms to reach their target audience. 

What’s the best way to do this? Should you build a native mobile app, a cross-platform app, or a website? 

We’ll explore the pros and cons of each platform and help you make an informed decision for your digital product.

200Apps is an innovative digital product firm consisting of experts in native Android, iOS development, and Reactive Native Development, as well as frontend development with React and backend development with NodeJS. The Jerusalem-based product innovation team has developed over 250 digital products and has a wealth of experience building mobile apps and websites.

History Lesson: Emergence of the Internet 

To understand the evolution of digital products, let's take a quick look at the history of the internet and mobile devices. 

In the late 90s, website design was still in its infancy, with basic layouts and limited functionality. Apple and Google were still relatively unknown companies, with Google only launching in 1998 and Apple still predominantly a computer manufacturer.

File:Nokia mobile phones.jpg
Nokia mobile phones source

In the 2000s, Facebook emerged as a significant player in the social media space, and website design evolved with more advanced features and designs. Mobile phones also started to become more popular, with the first mobile browsers appearing on devices like the Nokia 7110 and the BlackBerry 5810.

File:Steve Jobs Headshot 2010-CROP (cropped 2).jpg
Steve Jobs presenting the iPhone 4 in 2010 source

In 2007, Apple revolutionized the mobile industry with the launch of the iPhone, introducing the concept of a fully functional touchscreen smartphone. This led to the rise of mobile apps and the launch of the App Store, which has since grown to over 2 million apps.

Mobile Phone VS Desktop

Mobile traffic accounts for over 50% of all internet traffic worldwide, surpassing desktop traffic. This highlights the importance of having a mobile-friendly platform for businesses to reach their target audience. 

But which platform is suitable for your digital product?

Native Mobile Apps

Native mobile apps are built specifically for a single operating system, such as iOS or Android, and are downloaded and installed from the respective app stores. They are designed to take full advantage of the device's hardware and operating system features, providing a seamless user experience. 

Native apps are also more secure and reliable than other platforms, with access to the device's hardware and software features, including the camera, microphone, and GPS.

However, native apps are more expensive and time-consuming to develop, requiring separate development teams for each operating system. They also require users to download and install the app, which can be a barrier for new users.

Cross Platform Apps

Cross-platform apps are designed to work across multiple operating systems, such as iOS and Android, using a single codebase. This makes them more cost-effective and efficient to develop, with a single development team able to create a single app that works across multiple platforms.

However, cross-platform apps may take little advantage of each device's hardware and software features, leading to a less seamless user experience. They may also have performance issues and may be less secure than native apps.


Websites are the most traditional platform, accessible from any device with an internet connection and a web browser. They are cost-effective and easy to develop, with a single codebase that works across all devices. End-user websites must be mobile-friendly and responsive. We saw how high the mobile traffic is when a big part of it is through a responsive website, and it helps a lot with Google SEO traffic.

However, websites may not take full advantage of the device's hardware and software features and may not provide a seamless user experience on mobile devices. They may also be less secure than native apps, as they are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Device Usage of Facebook Users

It's also worth noting that device usage varies by platform and audience. According to Facebook's advertising insights, 98.3% of Facebook users accessed Facebook from mobile devices in Q4 2021, with only 1.7% accessing it from desktop devices. This highlights the importance of having a mobile-friendly platform for businesses targeting Facebook users.

So, which platform should you choose for your digital product? The answer depends on several factors, including your budget, target audience, and the features and functionality you require.

Suppose you have a larger budget and require advanced features and functionality. In that case, a native mobile app may be the best option, providing the most seamless user experience and access to all device features. 

However, a cross-platform app may be a more cost-effective option if you have a smaller budget and want to reach a wider audience across multiple platforms.

A website may be the best option if you have a limited budget, must support desktop users, or want to provide a basic online presence. However, it's crucial to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly and provides a seamless user experience on mobile devices.

Ultimately, the best platform for your digital product depends on your specific needs and goals. 200Apps has a team of experts in native Android, iOS, and Reactive Native and Flutter development, as well as frontend and backend development with React, VueJS and NodeJS. They can help you choose the right platform for your digital product and create a seamless user experience across all devices.

  • The rise of mobile devices has made it crucial for businesses to have a mobile-friendly platform to reach their target audience.
  • Native mobile apps provide the most seamless user experience and access to all device features. 
  • Cross-platform apps are more cost-effective and efficient to develop. 
  • Websites are the most traditional platform and provide a basic online presence, but ensuring they are mobile-friendly is essential. 

Ultimately, the best platform for your digital product depends on your specific needs and goals.

Mobile vs. Desktop Based on Visits Per Year, Trends

Over the past few years, there has been a notable shift in the way people access the internet, with mobile devices surpassing desktops as the preferred method of browsing the web. As reported by Statcounter, in 2021, mobile devices were responsible for 55.7% of global internet traffic, while desktops made up 40.5%. This trend is anticipated to persist as mobile devices become increasingly widespread and affordable.

However, it appears that the trend has plateaued, and internet usage has now become more segmented, with users opting for mobile phones primarily for personal and social purposes, while desktops remain the go-to choice for professional tasks. This division in usage highlights the unique strengths and advantages of each platform, catering to the specific needs and preferences of users in different contexts.

How the Answer to Mobile vs Desktop is Responsive Websites

In response to the shift towards mobile devices, web developers have adapted their strategies to create websites that can be easily viewed and navigated on mobile devices. 

The solution is responsive websites. Responsive design is an approach to web design that makes web pages render well on a variety of devices and window or screen sizes.

Express City Wash responsive website

Responsive Website Considerations

While responsive websites are essential for reaching a wider audience, they can be more expensive to create and support than traditional websites. 

Responsive websites require more complex coding to ensure that they display correctly on a variety of screen sizes and devices. Developers must also take a mobile-first approach to design, prioritizing the mobile experience when designing the site to ensure that most traffic coming in is able to have the best user experience.

Most Traffic Comes from Mobile Devices

Despite the extra effort required to create responsive websites, they are becoming increasingly important for businesses to reach their target audience. As mentioned earlier, mobile devices account for most internet traffic worldwide. Therefore, it's essential to have a mobile-friendly platform to reach your audience.

Desktop Usage Mostly: Professional Usage/Work, Coding Design and Editing, Back Office, Dashboards, and the Rest Must Be Mobile-Friendly

While mobile devices have overtaken desktops as the most popular means of accessing the internet, desktops are still essential for many professionals. Desktop devices are commonly used for work-related tasks like coding, design and editing, and back-office work. However, many other tasks, such as checking traffic and accessing websites, must be mobile-friendly to reach a wider audience.

Coding for Browsers, Desktop vs. OS, Desktop

When developing a website, developers have two options: coding for browsers or coding for the OS.

Coding for browsers means writing one codebase that works on all browsers on desktop devices. This approach saves storage space and eliminates users needing to install additional software to view the site. However, heavy applications may work poorly and may need help accessing all of the features of the user's operating system.

Coding for the OS means writing code specific to each operating system (such as Windows, MacOS, or Linux) and requires users to download and install software to use the site. This approach provides better performance and access to all the user’s operating system features, but it takes up storage space and requires more effort to develop.

The shift towards mobile devices has made responsive web design an essential component of any digital product. While desktop devices are still crucial for many professional tasks, a mobile-first approach is necessary to reach a wider audience. 

Developers can code for browsers or the operating system when creating a website, with each approach having its own benefits and drawbacks. At 200Apps, our team of experts in web and mobile app development can help you choose the best approach for your specific needs and goals.

As we have seen, each of the three options - native mobile apps, cross-platform apps, and websites - has advantages and disadvantages. 

But why do we need mobile apps in the first place?

One of the main reasons to develop a native mobile app is that it can be programmed specifically for the mobile device’s operating system. This allows for better performance and a faster response time, with an average response time of just two milliseconds per click. This contrasts with coding for browsers, which can take up to 300 milliseconds per click and can result in slower performance.

Furthermore, native mobile apps can be designed to be fully compatible with the user experience behavior of the operating system. This can lead to a much better user experience, especially regarding app navigation and usage. In contrast, coding for browsers means that the app will have to work with the operating system through the browser, which may result in a slower user experience.

However, there are cases where coding for browsers is preferable. For example, if an app has heavy logic that requires very good performance, coding for browsers may not be the best option, as heavy computations may work slower. Additionally, coding for browsers can be a good option if the app needs to work with the operating system through the browser, as is the case with web apps.

So, which is better - native mobile apps, cross-platform apps, or websites?

It's a complicated question, and the answer depends on a variety of factors, including the specific needs of the project and the target audience.

To determine which option is best for your project, ask yourself these questions:

  • How frequently will users be using the app?
  • Do you have heavy logic that needs excellent performance?
  • Do you need to integrate with core parts of the device, such as the camera, Bluetooth, NFC, and more?
  • Do you need to send push notifications to users?

For example, if the user is going to use the app once in a while, then a website should be enough. No one wants to install an app to use once or now in a year from now. If you need push notifications, sending them through the website is not a good solution.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision about which development option is best for your project. At 200Apps, our experts can help you weigh the pros and cons of each option to determine which will work best for your specific needs.

If you've decided that you need a mobile app but are worried about the cost of native app development, cross-platform solutions might be a good fit for you. 

Cross-platform solutions like PhoneGap, Xamarin, and Ionic allow developers to write code once and deploy it across multiple platforms. This can be more cost-effective than developing a native app for each platform, but there are trade-offs to consider.

Cross-platform solutions typically use a browser-based engine to run the app, which can result in slower performance and a less smooth user experience compared to native apps. They also don't have the same level of access to core parts of the device, like the camera or Bluetooth, and notifications may not work as well.

However, some cross-platform solutions like React Native and Flutter offer a better user experience by compiling directly to the device's operating system, resulting in faster performance and a more seamless user experience. These solutions also have better access to core parts of the device and can support notifications.

Some famous apps that use React Native include Airbnb, some parts of Instagram, and Facebook Page Manager. These apps are known for their smooth performance and user-friendly design. If you're considering a cross-platform solution, it's important to work with an experienced development team that can help you determine which solution is the best fit for your needs.

I need a native app but don't have the money.

While native apps offer the best performance and UX, they can be expensive to develop. If you're on a tight budget, the best solution is to start with one platform and test the field. 

Then, once you've raised more money, you can develop the other platform. This is exactly what Instagram and Snapchat did when they started out. Both apps began as iOS-only apps before expanding to Android.

How can I know what is the right platform for me?

When developing a native app for your business, choosing the right platform is crucial. First, research your market: country, age, consumer payments, B2B/B2C, internal apps, and more to determine which platform fits your business best. 

If you're targeting a global audience, developing an app for both iOS and Android is best. However, if you're targeting a specific market, you should focus on one platform first.

What if I don't need an app, I need a system?

Not every business needs a mobile app. However, some businesses may need a system, such as a management tool, to streamline their operations. In this case, consider developing a web-based application. These types of applications are accessed through a web browser and can be designed to work across multiple devices.

Speaking the truth: no one needs an app for the sake of an app.

It's important to remember that no one needs an app just for the sake of having an app. Today's new apps are only one part of a great product and should be developed with a clear purpose in mind. 

If an app isn't necessary for your business or product, investing in other areas, such as website development, marketing, or customer support, may be better.

Let's say I need an app and admin back office; how would people know about me?

While developing an app and an admin back office is important, ensuring that people know about your app is equally important. One effective way to do this is by developing a branding website. A branding website is an easy-to-develop and design website focused on promoting your business. 

It's also a cost-effective way to reach a broad audience and promote your app. In fact, Instagram had only a branding website not too long ago.

Let's summarize.

In conclusion, the decision to develop a website, native app, or cross-platform app depends on several factors, including frequency, performance, capabilities, and market research. If your business requires heavy logic and performance, a native app is likely the best choice. 

If you're targeting a specific market, it's important to research which platform is the right fit for your business. However, if you're on a tight budget, start with a cross-platform app. Remember, no one needs an app just for the sake of having an app. 

Apps should be developed with a clear purpose and part of a bigger product. And finally, remember the importance of promoting your app through a branding website.

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