There's no doubt that building a functional mobile site avoids the pain of having to build specific apps for multiple phone platforms. The big problem? End users would still much rather have an app.
Mobile phone picture from Shutterstock
Gartner analyst David Mitchell Smith reinforced that point during the opening keynote at Gartner's Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit in Sydney yesterday:
HTML5 versus the web is an oversimplified question. The answer is very dependent on the spin. Developers understand the technologies — but if you talk to the rest of the world that are not developers, they don't understand and they don't care. For consumers, it only matters if it's an app they get in an app store. If they can't have that, it's a bad thing. Mobile web is a second class citizen.
In many situations, a a mix of native apps and mobile sites is likely to be the best solution, but resistance is likely if an app isn't available.