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A client asked me to place the download links of the new application for Android and IOs from their online store on the general website. I explained that these links are usually buttons in modal windows only on mobile versions, not desktop ones.

I am convinced that this is the case since download links for apps on desktop make no sense.

Is it really like that? Is there any explanation or reason for placing the links on desktop versions beyond the advertisement?

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Yeah, I find that pretty common, even if annoying. It is indeed just an ad, I think. It's not that the business wants you to switch from desktop to mobile in that moment, but that they want you to also visit them on mobile later on (maybe the minute you step away from your computer).

For example, scroll down on McDonalds.com and you'll see such links at the bottom. But it's far from the only business that does this. BMO, Presto, Expedia, Belair, Getty Images, Meetup, OneDrive, Spotify, LinkedIn are a few more random ones that come to mind across different industries. Some of those have the branded "Get it on the ___ store" buttons in the footer, some have plain <a> tags saying "Get the ____ app" in the footer or sidebar or topbar, and some even have modals pestering you to try the app the first time you open them when logged in.

App stores have adapted to this by creating a "send to device" or "install on device" link when you visit an app page on desktop. If I follow the McDonalds Android app link, I get the Google Play Store with a button "install on more devices" that pulls up a list of devices attached to my Google account, and if I click on one, that device will start installing it. So they clearly expect this scenario.

Some businesses even have functionality that's available only in the mobile app and invite you to go there to use it, e.g. Bumble, where you have to go to the app to see promotional messages (lol) or to play a game where you ask each other a question and only see the answers once everyone has entered one.


For us developers, it's obvious that desktop is a more powerful and capable experience and these ads are dumb. But for the average person, I think desktop seems cumbersome compared to a quick opening of the phone. On the other hand, people don't like installing apps. The experience with the least friction for most people is probably just opening it in their phone browser, but of course it makes even less sense to put an ad on desktop saying "Go open it on your phone!" So if a business wants to add mobile conversions I guess they have to advertise the app. An app lets them be more intrusive with notifications and so forth anyway.

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