A responsive website can deliver similar functionality to an app. In fact, with a little creativity you can keep the differences to a minimum and ensure that the home page jumps straight into a “full screen” display.
The biggest drawbacks to using responsive websites are firstly that the app cannot be distributed through an app store; this can be a deal breaker if you’re looking to monetize downloads of your app. Secondly, there’s the issue that the user will need constant connectivity to make use of the website. This may not be a problem in highly developed markets where mobile broadband is near ubiquitous but can be a serious issue in developing markets.
It’s worth noting that while, at this moment in time, apps appear to be the driving force behind the mobile web – there is room for serious disruption. With the average user already using up to 30 apps a month and with more than 250,000 apps being released a year, there may come a point of overload from a user’s perspective. At that point, it is possible that if there are enough well designed mobile websites, that users will move away from apps and back to browsing and individual sites to provide their online experience. Then, apps might just become “launchers” of mobile websites.