Mobile app or mobile Web site?
That's the decision that Dremel and countless companies face today when trying to reach the burgeoning number of customers with smartphones. Many choose to build an app, but Dremel, maker of multipurpose high-speed rotary tools popular among hobbyists and electrical engineers, decided on a mobile Web instead.
The company was planning a mobile sales and marketing push, but building an iOS or Android app would have "limit[ed] the reach of this initiative to one or two mobile platforms," said Henry Schwenk of Triton-Tek, a mobile development company Dremel hired.
Web apps often lag what native apps can do, browser makers' labors notwithstanding, but Dremel's needs were reasonably well-adapted to a mobile Web site. The online product catalog features pages with sections that can be expanded for more detail and links to online videos.
Another part of the campaign extends to the physical world. Dremel promotional materials such as ads and in-store displays feature QR codes, the two-dimensional equivalent to barcodes. Camera-equipped mobile phones can scan the QR code, which steers the browser to the Dremel page.