Web App vs Mobile App: What Should Your Startup Choose

When your business is at the starting phase, there are several vulnerabilities and challenges you may come across. One of the biggest dilemmas that may hit your mind is which one you should choose: web app or mobile app?

In today’s digital era, where the internet is the most adopted platform to reach potential customers, we all know that applications serve as the best source to float your business amongst the targeted audience.

However, should you build a sleek, browser-based web app masterpiece or dive headfirst into the bustling app store arena through a stunning mobile application, choosing between these platforms is complex. It can significantly impact customer satisfaction, engagement, development costs, and overall business success.

Therefore, today, we will explore more about custom web application development and mobile application development. We will also discuss various key factors from the business perspectives that will guide you during the selection process.

By the end of this blog, you will have a clear understanding of web apps and mobile apps and will be able to make the precise decision for your startup. Let’s get started.

What is a Web Application?

A web application, often shortened to web app, is a software program that runs in a web browser instead of being installed on a device. You can access web apps through any internet-connected device, such as a tablet, smartphone, desktop or laptop.

Think of it like this: A web app is like an interactive kiosk at a store, allowing you to perform specific tasks, like ordering food, booking appointments, or playing games. They’re interactive websites that can do more than just display static content.

Pros and Cons of Web Application: From Business Perspective

Web applications hold immense business potential. The Top 30 PWAs report clearly states that the Progressive Web App’s average conversion rate is 36% higher than that of the native mobile app.  However, like any other technology, web apps also have advantages and disadvantages. So, let’s weigh the pros and cons from a business perspective:

Pros of Web Application

  • Accessibility

Web applications are easily accessible by users from any device with a browser and an active internet connection. This accessibility ensures a broad reach and convenience for users.

  • Cross-Platform Compatibility

Web applications are compatible with various OS (Windows, macOS, Linux) and devices (desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones). This cross-platform compatibility simplifies development efforts.

  • Easy Updates

Updates and maintenance of web apps are centralised on the server. Users do not need to install updates on their devices, making it easier for businesses to roll out new features or fixes seamlessly.

  • Cost-Effective Development

Custom web application development can be more cost-effective than building native applications for different platforms. Technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are widely supported and reduce the need for platform-specific development.

  • Rapid Development and Deployment

Web applications can be developed and deployed relatively quickly compared to native applications. This rapid development cycle benefits startups and businesses aiming for a fast time-to-market.

Cons of Web App Development

  • Limited Device Functionality

Web applications may have limitations in accessing certain device-specific features (e.g., sensors, camera) compared to native mobile apps.

  • Dependency on Internet Connectivity

Web applications require an active internet connection for seamless functionality. Users may face difficulties accessing the application in areas with poor or no connectivity.

  • Less Intuitive User Experience

The user experience may be less intuitive compared to native applications, especially when it comes to leveraging device-specific gestures or interfaces.

  • App Store Limitations

Web applications may not benefit from the visibility and trust associated with app stores. Discoverability might be a challenge compared to native apps listed on platforms like the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

  • Security Concerns

Web applications are vulnerable to certain security risks, such as cross-site scripting (XSS) and cross-site request forgery (CSRF). Implementing robust security measures is essential.

What is a Mobile Application?

A mobile application, often shortened to a “mobile app”, is a program specifically designed to run on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. They’re like miniature programs living on your phone, offering specific functionalities and experiences beyond basic phone features.

Mobile apps are developed for platforms like iOS for Apple devices or Android for Android operating systems. Unlike web applications, mobile apps are installed directly on the device and can typically be accessed through the device’s home screen or app drawer.

Pros and Cons of Mobile Application: From Business Perspective

Mobile apps have become powerful tools for numerous businesses, but just like any investment, they come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. So, let’s delve into the pros and cons from a business perspective:

Pros of Mobile Application

  • Enhanced User Experience

Mobile apps provide a tailored and optimised user experience, utilising device-specific features such as touch gestures, cameras, and GPS. This can result in maximised user satisfaction and engagement.

  • Offline Functionality

By creating a native mobile app, you can offer robust offline functionality, allowing users to access certain content or features without an active internet connection. This is beneficial for users in areas with limited connectivity.

  • Access to Device Features

Mobile apps can leverage a wide range of device features, providing opportunities for innovation and creating unique functionalities that may not be achievable in a web app.

  • App Store Visibility

Distribution through app stores enhances app visibility, trust, and discoverability. Users are likely to find and download apps from reputable app stores, contributing to potential user acquisition.

  • Push Notifications

Mobile apps can send push notifications to users, enabling direct communication and engagement. This feature is valuable for user retention, re-engagement, and real-time communication.

  • Monetisation Opportunities

Mobile apps offer diverse monetisation models, including paid downloads, in-app purchases, subscription services, and advertising. App stores provide a secure platform for transactions.

Cons Mobile Application

  • Platform-Specific Development

Developing for multiple platforms (iOS, Android) requires separate development efforts and can increase development costs. Cross-platform frameworks can mitigate this but may have limitations.

  • App Store Approval Process

App stores have approval processes that can introduce delays in getting updates or new releases to users. This can impact the speed of innovation and responsiveness to user feedback.

  • Dependency on App Stores

Businesses are dependent on app stores for distribution. Changes in app store policies or removal from an app store can have significant consequences for visibility and user acquisition.

  • Cost of Development

Developing and maintaining native mobile apps can be more expensive than web apps. This includes costs associated with platform-specific development, testing, and ongoing updates.

[Want to build a cost-effective mobile app? Read this: All You Need About Mobile App Development Cost]
  • Limited Device Reach

Mobile apps are limited to specific devices and operating systems. This can exclude users on unsupported platforms, potentially affecting the overall reach of the business.

What Should You Choose for Your Startup: Web App or Mobile App?

Choosing between a web app and a mobile app for your startup is a crucial decision with no “correct” answer. The ideal option depends heavily on your specific business goals, target audience, budget, and resources. Here’s a framework to help you decide:

ConsiderationWeb AppMobile App
Target AudienceWide accessibility across devicesMobile-centric users, device-specific features
Functionality & UXConsistent experienceOptimized, interactive experience
Development CostGenerally more cost-effectivePotentially higher cost, cross-platform tools
Time to MarketFaster deploymentLonger development time, app store approvals
Offline AccessLimited offline functionalityRobust offline capabilities (native apps)
App Store ConsiderationsNo app store approvalsEnhanced visibility, credibility (app stores)
Monetization StrategyAds, subscriptions, e-commerceIn-app purchases, subscriptions, app stores
Security & UpdatesEasier updates, security considerationsApp store security, longer update timelines
  • Target Audience

Web App: If your target audience uses a variety of devices, including computers and mobile devices, a web app provides broad accessibility.

Mobile App: If your audience is primarily mobile-centric and your business relies on leveraging device-specific features (e.g., GPS, camera), a mobile app might be more appropriate.

  • Functionality and User Experience

Web App: Suitable for applications where a consistent experience across different devices is essential. However, it may have limitations in accessing certain device features.

Mobile App: Ideal for applications that require a highly optimised and interactive user experience, leveraging device-specific functionalities.

  • Development Cost

Web App: Generally more cost-effective as web technologies are platform-agnostic, and development can be done using a single codebase.

Mobile App: This can be more complex to build and thus expensive, especially if you need separate versions for iOS and Android. Cross-platform frameworks (React Native, Flutter) can help reduce costs.

  • Time to Market

Web App: Faster development and deployment, as updates can be instantly applied without users needing to download new versions.

Mobile App: Longer development time, especially if developing separate apps for different platforms. App store approval processes can also introduce delays.

  • Offline Access

Web App: Limited offline functionality, although Progressive Web App (PWA) technologies are improving this aspect.

Mobile App: Native mobile apps can offer more robust offline access, which is crucial for certain applications.

  • App Store Considerations

Web App: No need for app store approvals, which simplifies distribution. However, discoverability may be a challenge.

Mobile App: App store presence enhances visibility and credibility. Users often trust apps listed on app stores.

  • Monetisation Strategy

Web App: Suitable for revenue models based on ads, subscriptions, or e-commerce that don’t heavily rely on app store transactions.

Mobile App: Provides opportunities for in-app purchases, subscription models, and transactions through app stores.

  • Security and Updates

Web App: Easier to update but may face certain security risks. Security measures are crucial.

Mobile App: App store approval processes contribute to security, but updates may take longer to reach users.

Important Considerations While Making Your Decision

Several factors can influence your selection of the best app platform. Here are some considerations to help you make an informed decision:

  • Consider your business goals

Focus on reach and accessibility: A web app is ideal to reach a broad audience across devices and platforms.

Prioritise personalised experiences and engagement: A mobile app shines when you want to offer more profound engagement, push notifications, and offline functionality.

Need speed and cost-effectiveness: Web apps generally require less development time and lower maintenance costs than mobile apps.

  • Understand your target audience

Tech-savvy mobile users: A mobile app might be preferred if your target audience spends most of their time on smartphones and values app-specific features.

Desktop-based professionals: A web app might be more convenient for users who primarily access information from desktops or laptops.

Location-dependent services: If your business relies on location-based features, a mobile app with GPS integration is essential.

  • Evaluate your budget and resources

Bootstrapping or limited budget: Start with a web app for faster development and lower costs. You can consider a mobile app later as your business grows.

Longer development timelines and bigger budgets: If resources allow, you can develop both a web app and a mobile app for comprehensive reach and user experience.

Bonus Tip: Conduct thorough user research to understand your target audience’s preferences and device usage patterns. Their insights will be your guiding light!


In many cases, a combination of both web and mobile apps may be the ideal solution (responsive web design and a native mobile app). This approach allows you to reach a broader user base while providing an optimised user experience on different platforms.

So, whether you choose the custom web application development or go with the mighty mobile application development, remember, ultimately, the choice should align with your business goals and the needs of your target users.


Is developing a web app less expensive than building a mobile app?

Generally, developing a web app is more cost-effective as it can be done using web technologies and a single codebase. Mobile app development, especially for both iOS and Android platforms, can be more expensive, but cross-platform frameworks can help reduce costs.

Can I have both a web app and a mobile app for my startup?

Yes, many startups adopt a hybrid approach. A responsive web app provides broad accessibility, while a native mobile app offers an optimised experience for specific devices. This combination allows you to reach a wider audience.

How does the user experience differ between web apps and mobile apps?

Web apps provide a consistent experience across devices, while mobile apps offer an optimized, device-specific experience. Mobile apps can leverage device features like GPS and camera, providing a more interactive user interface.

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