The world went app crazy last year. You couldn't move for an iPhone app being released from top brands to small developers. Angry Birds dominated success stories. Towards the end of the year though, and certainly the start of this year, there's a distinct sea change occurring, as the hype dies down and the hysteria subsides. The sea change is away from apps and towards mobile optimised websites. Classically, the argument for native applications was that they had slicker user interfaces, sometimes didn't require a user interface, and could be better controlled. The problem is that you need to make one app per platform (to do it properly). Now roll back a year and you only really had two to worry about - Apple and BlackBerry, with Android coming up close behind.
Now though, we have to consider Apple (iPhone and iPad), Android, BlackBerry and Nokia's Ovi at the very least. Apps therefore are getting more expensive to make in order to work across the board.
Furthermore, there's evidence now that users, for certain tasks (especially shopping) prefer using their mobile browser and not having to get an app (check out the evidence here)
What's even more encouraging is that some of the major players in UK ecommerce are using mobile sites and not being seduced by apps, like John Lewis and ASOS and doing a great job of it as well.
The bottom line here is simple - make sure that whatever mobile strategy you're planning for your brand, think about why you are doing it, why the user is going to interact with you in a mobile context and therefore what route is right for you. Chances are a mobile optimised site is the way to go. Especially as with all the devices, tablets and screen sizes to come - you're no longer in control in a way that's never happened before.