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App or wap? Both thanks.

AdAge recorded an interesting viewpoint from Major League Baseball about whether a brand (or media property) should have an app or a wap site. The answer is you need to have both.  From MLBs perspective, they felt that one of the advantages of an app is that you can charge for it, while the wap site needs to be free.  MLB offers this insight:

* 400k users use the paid application every day
* 350k users use their free app every day
* 750k users access the wap site every day

What is notable though, is that on the wap site they have 25m page views with 4m unique users every day, which far exceeds what they have in terms of page views on the app.  This should hardly come as a surprise given the number of handsets which can access their site vs what the app can do.  Brands and media companies need to employ a different strategy for app and wap, where wap is information focused (which probably in MLBs case has to do with checking scores and stats, etc) and apps are more entertainment focused, and include richer media.

They feel apps will “catch up” with wap, but in this case I am not so sure.  For one, data plans will become common on lower end handsets, eradicating some of the economic advantages phones like the iPhone have today – and is sure to make wap browsing more attractive. Also, while there are still a lot of horrifically designed wap sites out there, the level of understanding in terms of what it takes to design a good wap experience is continuing to improve.  And while apps work well on the one-stop-shop that is the eco system of the iPhone, it does not work as well on other platforms in terms of features, ability to upgrade, etc.   The question is not iPhone vs wap – it is app vs wap, which means from an app perspective you should support Symbian, Windows, BlackBerry, Palm, Android, J2ME – which from a development perspective still means major headaches. In this regard, Wap seems quite attractive as the platform of choice.

Posted in Mobile Entertainment, The Business of Mobile.

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