Essays on the Business Value of Investments in Mobile Apps and Mobile Websites


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Award date10 Aug 2021


With the continuous growth of the mobile market, many firms are considering investing in mobile apps and mobile websites. To provide a better understanding of the business implications of investments in the mobile domain, this dissertation includes two essays related to the rise of the mobile phenomenon. Previous and recent studies in the mobile literature mainly examine the change of users’ behavior after the mobile-related investments to study the impact of such investments. The dissertation fills the gap in the literature by providing new empirical findings regarding the business value of investments in mobile apps and mobile websites with a large number of firms.

The first essay utilizes the event study methodology to analyze the stock market valuation of 761 US public firms that released their first mobile app between 2008 and 2017 on the two leading mobile app stores, Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Prior research and anecdotal evidence have shown that the success of a mobile app is associated with positive changes in user behavior. However, it is unclear whether the performance implications of mobile app investment can be generalized to a wide range of firms. The results of this essay show that, on average, public firms experience a negative abnormal stock return on the day they release their first mobile app and that the value creation process of mobile app investment is highly contingent on a firm’s market position, IT capability, and industry competition. Our findings imply that firms should act cautiously when planning to enter the mobile app market.

The second essay studies the channel interrelationship between mobile app and mobile website channels by examining the impact of mobile app introduction on the traffic on the corresponding mobile website channel. Managing mobile users has become the cornerstone for firms’ success. Considering that mobile web and mobile app are the leading two mobile channels for firms to engage with mobile users, it is necessary and important to understand the relationship between the two channels. By analyzing many mobile app releases in 2018, the second study uses the difference-in-difference model to infer causality. The results show that the release of mobile apps is associated with an increase in the traffic on the corresponding mobile websites. This finding indicates that the mobile website and mobile app channels complement each other in demand. Especially, the additional analysis explores the different responses to the mobile app release among web-and-app and web-only users. The finding reveals that the significant complementarity in demand only exists among web-and-app users and for the web-only users, their usage behavior is not significantly affected.

    Research areas

  • mobile app, business value of IT, Mobile web, IT investment, channel interaction, event study, firm value, complementarity