Talking about this subject is always somewhat complicated. Many will argue that a mobile website can do pretty much everything mobile apps can. Unfortunately that is not the reality.
Mobile websites are really good if you want to display your company information and showcase examples of your work, or describe you services and products. But if you want to use smartphone hardware like GPS, Bluetooth, push-notifications and the most useful of all, offline usage, then a mobile app is what you need.
Pros and cons of a mobile website and mobile app
From our point of view a mobile website should be used to show information or to be a complement of an app. For example you can use a website to show the features, where to download and support for an app, or it can be a content management system for the app.
In the next awesome infographic from Flurry Analytics (published in 2016) we can see that 90% of time spent on a smartphone is done via a mobile app.
Apps are proven to deliver more retention and loyalty from users than websites. Why? Quickly simply – apps are designed to work on mobile devices, they use the tech native to tablets and smart phones to deliver content faster and generally facilitate a more interactive and less passive user experience.
It all depends on what you are trying to achieve.
A mobile website will be perfect if want to display portfolio type information across all platforms (smartphones, laptops and desktops).
If you want to use location services, offline content or engage with your users using push notifications then an app is the way to go.
Here are some articles on the subject you might find interesting: