Both the mobile app and mobile websites have their own characteristic benefits. You will only have to decide whether you need a mobile website development or a mobile application development depending on your preferences of course when you have a limited budget at your end.
A pure mobile website can be accessed through browsing. It has a static navigational interface and requires a connection. On the other hand, mobile phone applications can be accessed offline once they are installed. It uses gadget functionalities to make the user experience far more interactive than a mobile website. So I think if we compare these two on the basis of what they offer to the mobile users, mobile applications would win hands down. But wait, there is a certain twist waiting back at the Mobile development floor. And it is, of course, something that would make you think twice before making a selection between the web and app.
The cost of mobile apps development is quite expensive as compared to mobile website development. Also, you would find many options for your website to be converted to a mobile site, without investing much amount in it. While developing a desktop version of your website you can get it developed in a responsive manner which would let the same website become compatible with different devices like iPhone, iPad, Tablets, and others.
Also, there are few sites that charge you a minimum amount of money and convert your website to a mobile site. A good example of this is dudamobile.com. Whereas there is no such, option available for mobile applications. You just need to hire a mobile app developer to get it developed. Also, if your audience is vast you need to target more platforms and this would certainly cost you much. Also, if it's an application it needs to pass the approval process on the mobile app stores, whereas it's not mandatory for mobile websites.
So, the cost and convenience totally go into the favor of the mobile website. So it's a tie till round second! But, finally, what matters to you more is the audience response. Isn't it? A survey was conducted recently on the usage and followership of various platforms and this made the applications come out more impactful and attractive for the end-users when compare to websites. Mobile applications are dominant and are more popular among mobile users.
And if you ask any random user, they will term mobile applications as more attractive and engaging confirmed by a 2011 US data where average use of mobile apps exceeded mobile websites by 22 minutes/ individual. So all in all, it's the mobile application that wins the race. But, in the end, it all depends on the resources you have and the type of product and audience you have. If you still manage to capitalize on a mobile website that reaches significantly to your audience, you are through.
Your specific goal related to your branding, marketing and promotions are the major factors that would help you take an apt decision. But, the most advisable is to have them both, when you have the resources to do so.