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Report: Native Apps Beat Mobile Web for Travel

Wed, 08/29/2012 - 6:28am
Andrew Berg

While the debate over native apps versus mobile web will continue, it appears that in at least one market, native wins out. According to numbers released by Nielsen today U.S. Android and iOS users spent 95 percent of their time accessing travel information from travel apps, versus only 5 percent from the mobile Web. Nielsen

Nielsen said the numbers were largely driven by Google Maps, the top Travel category app and mobile website during June, which accounted for 78 percent of all mobile time spent on Travel.

The report notes that Americans’ decision on whether to open an app or their mobile Web browser depends on the type of travel information they seek. 

For instance, the Cruise Lines sub-category was exclusively accessed through the mobile Web, while 98 percent of time spent browsing map/navigation information was through an app. The Travel Destinations/Theme Parks category seemed to have the most balanced usage among smartphone owners, as 54 percent of time spent was through an app and 46 percent via mobile Web.

“The variation in time spent across the different travel categories shows that there’s significant room for app development and growth,” said Nichole Henderson, a senior research executive at Nielsen.

When looking at the top U.S. travel apps and sites, Nielsen found that consumers prefer apps for guidance and the mobile Web for trip planning. 

Seven out of the top 10 Travel apps during June 2012 featured a map/navigation function, while the top mobile websites mostly included airlines and travel aggregators, such as TripAdvisor and Priceline.com. 

Interestingly, during a summer when gas prices were on the rise, GasBuddy, which lets users search for local gas prices, ranked as the number-two Travel app with nearly nine million users. Along with Google Maps, MapQuest and Southwest Airlines appeared on both lists but had more mobile Web users than app users.

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