The war between native apps and mobile web is likely to rage for a while. But for right now, native apps are leaving mobile websites in the dust in the travel category. According to a recent study by Nielsen, users looking for travel related info turn to native apps 95% of the time. From TechCrunch:
According to figures out today from Nielsen, 95% of all mobile traffic for travel-related content comes from native mobile apps — specifically on iOS and Android platforms. Mobile web — and traffic on operating systems that are not Android and iOS, for that matter — accounts for only 5% of visits.
It’s hard to judge those figures at face value though, considering the Google Maps app accounts for an overwhelming majority of usage (78 million app users). Since iOS and Android account for almost all of those users it will be interesting to see what happens to the native app numbers when the iPhone stops featuring a Google Maps icon.
But in the meantime, here are the top 10 native travel apps and the number of unique visitors for each:
Google Maps: 77,770
Street View: 4,489
Sprint Navigation: 3,979
VZ Navigation: 3,049
Google Earth: 2,297
Urbanspoon: 2,224 (this counts as a travel app because it maps the nearby restaurants)
Southwest Airlines: 1,745
By comparison, Google Maps’ mobile website had only 17,427 visitors and the other top 10 most popular sites put up visitor numbers ranging from 4,156 down to 1,355 – considerably lower than the native app numbers.
Part of the Nielsen study did reveal that some facets of the travel category did lean heavily toward mobile web:
Indeed, Nielsen notes that some travel sub-categories, like Cruise Lines, are accessed “exclusively” through the mobile web. And that’s not for a lack of cruise apps in places like Apple’s App Store. Ground Transportation has a similar lean to mobile web (hear that, Uber?). The most balanced sub-category was travel destinations/theme parks: this group saw 54% of time spent in apps with 46% on mobile web. The full table breakdown is embedded below.
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Here’s a native v. mobile web breakdown of each travel sub-category:
Airlines: 61% native v. 39% mobile web
Cruise Lines: 100% mobile web
Ground Transportation: 14% native v. 86% mobile web
Hotel Information: 31% native v. 69% mobile web
Maps/Navigation: 98% native v. 2% mobile web
Multi-Category Travel: 79% native v. 21% mobile web
Travel Destinations, Theme Parks & Event Centers: 54% native v. 46% mobile web
So for right now, native apps are winning out overall.