This post was contributed by guest editor Victor Tan, Founder and Business Development Manager of DealShop , a group buying start-up in Singapore.

The title was my key takeaway for a group-buying start-up from Appsworld Asia 2011, Suntec, Singapore

As the name suggests, Appsworld Asia 2011 was organized with the intention of taking the apps industry forward, through sharing of opinions from thought leaders. Yet ironically, from a group-buying company’s perspective, the key takeaway was to reconsider if creating a mobile app is necessarily the way to go mobile.

Apps versus Mobile Website

It is an open secret that going mobile is the way forward for the group-buying industry. Many, including myself, had the perception that the process of going mobile means creating an app, and that a mobile website is merely a substitute to it. Think again!

Sirina Sisombat, Haiku Asia’s Sales Manager of Asia Pacific, commented that companies sometimes develop apps just because they are “sexy”. But do we really need them? What about the simpler alternative of mobile websites?

Here are 3 arguments for and against mobile apps that I have inferred and summarized from the forum:

1.Mobile websites are easier to search for. Search engine optimization (SEO) for mobile websites has huge similarity with regular SEO. This makes them much easier to be search for, compared to apps that often get lost in Apps Stores!

2.TWO versions of mobile apps (Iphone & Android) are needed to reach out to the same population as ONE mobile website. The fragmented nature of mobile platforms leads to the need to create TWO separate versions of mobile apps to cater to the entire smart phone population. Compare this with ONE universal mobile website!

3. Apps are clearly more expensive to develop and maintain. Consider the licensing fees, the cost of having to constantly update the app with changes in the various mobile operating systems, the need to create 2 versions of apps to cater to both Iphone and Android users, the additional cost of a separate marketing campaign for apps etc, etc.

Should mobile websites replace apps?

Clearly, this is not necessarily the case. Jorg Krahnert (APAC MD, Netbiscuits) believes that an App only strategy is flawed, but combining apps with mobile websites would give maximum mobile reach. This is of course subjected to various factors such as the type of business model, customers’ demands, company’s budget, technological resources and time.

As Rohit Dadwal (Managing Director, APAC Branch, MMA) puts it, “think (of the) consumers before you think (of the) product.” Focus on the needs and wants of the customers. Use technology to add value to our customers. Do not be too engrossed in merely delivering the latest tool to them.