How much does it Cost to Develop a Mobile App?

June 25, 2021

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According to the reports for the first quarter of 2021 by Statista, the Android play store hosts 3.48 million apps with Apple’s App Store following it closely at 2.22 million. In the last year alone there were more than 204 billion mobile app downloads. Needless to say, mobile apps hold a major share in revenue generation for businesses. Several entrepreneurs are looking beyond the conventional methods and switching to investing in mobile applications for their business expansion. But this thought is immediately followed by an imperative question; How much will it cost to develop the mobile app? In ballpark numbers, you may have to shell out anywhere between $20,000 to $250,000 to have your app up and running. Yes, it is a wide range and is factored by many aspects like developer fee, features, and functionalities of the app, scalability, designs, app store charges, maintenance, etc. We will discuss all these factors and how they affect the app development cost in totality. Freelancers Vs. App Development Company Before you even begin to discuss your app development idea, you may have to weigh between choosing between hiring a freelance app developer or contacting a professional app development firm. An individual may quote you a lower budget as compared to the cost estimate by a professional mobile app development company but in the end, you may be falling short on other benefits. You will have to hire other specialists for QA, maintenance, etc. A mobile app development company on the other end sets an all-inclusive price which may appear on a little higher end but comes with peace of mind and quality assurance. The complete process of mobile app development does not only entail coding by the developer. This is far from reality. Coding is just a part of the complete process. The successful planning to launching the app on the play store requires the following specialists too:
  • Project Managers design a backlog with tasks and ensure that reporting needs are met.
  • Business analysts create the project process, assess the business model and technology integration, and conduct market research.
  • Solution architect designs the overall structure of the back-end components of the project.
  • Quality assurance managers develop the test cases based on the functionality of the app and check if the end product passes the tests without error.
  • Designers work on composing the complete look and feel of the app while working on the project layout and generating prototypes.
Furthermore, for developing a complex app, more than one developer may be required. A professional mobile app development company charges for services for all these specialists while providing you the best assistance. Cost estimate based on time and development fee Our first stop is to assess the cost of developing an app in terms of hourly rates. Depending upon the geographical location, there is a huge fluctuation in the average cost of app development. The best in the USA charges around $150 an hour while in India the hourly rate runs at $25 for Android app and $26 for iOS versions. The average app development cost comes down to $45 per hour worldwide. Again all mobile apps are different. Some of them are pretty simple ones with just one functionality like an app that rolls the dice while others like food delivery apps are loaded with functionalities and need to access a plethora of system hardware while operating in real-time and take intensive market research to even begin with. The app development cost will run differently for them as also the time taken. It is not fair to weigh them on the same scale. So let’s classify them on the basis of terms of complexity and estimate the cost below:  
App type Functionality Man-Hours Timeline Cost Estimate
Basic Simple 500-800 3-6 months $ 22,000
Moderate Medium 1200-2000 5-10 months $ 90,000
Complex High 2000 + 1 year + $ 250,000
Choosing the Platforms and Operating System To reach the potential users, you will have to read and research market trends, find where your potential audience is and what is the most competent way to reach a larger target. Choosing the right application platform to build your app will also determine your cost of development. Based on the complexity level you may opt for Android, iOS, or cross-platform. From the cost point of view, Apple iOS has initial larger charges but it reaches out to financially sound users so it generates more revenue. Android on the other hand has double the market share. With lesser initial investments plus wider reach, it is a close competitor when it comes to generating turnover. If you want to cater to both the platforms simultaneously and even cover some others like windows too, cross-platform is the way to go. It will save you time and money but you would have to compromise on the UI/UX. Native Vs. Hybrid vs. Web When it comes to the platform, there’s one more option to consider: hybrid versus native versus web application. Let’s compare their advantages and other features in the table below:
Web Native Hybrid
Skills required JavaScript, HTML, CSS Objective-C, Swift, iOS SDK, Java, Android SDK HTML, CSS, Javascript, Mobile Development Framework
Distribution Channel Direct access through the internet Hosted in App store of the particular OS Hosted in App store of the operating System
Performance Browser and internet connectivity dependent, limited access to system functionality Full access to device functionality, hence fast and enhanced performance. And best in class UI/UX Due to limited access to system hardware, its performance is a bit downgraded as compared to others.
Best used for Apps that do not have high-performance requirements, and have limited resources and funds. Apps that demand a high level of optimization, such as games or consumer-oriented apps, where performance, graphics, and overall user experience are critical Apps that do not have high-performance requirements, but require full device access.
Cost Low High Moderate
The App Features and Functionalities You might have got the gist from the discussion above that, the more features and functionalities you want your app to have, the more money you need to shell out on its development. You have to separate absolutely essential features for the app to function properly from others which can be kept as optional. Cross-platform app development may limit the features you can add because of limited access to the mobile hardware. If you outsource your app development to a reputed mobile app development company, they will guide you with these technical specifications. Necessary and not so Necessary Features For instance, a gaming app can do away with GPS enabling, payment gateways, or social media sharing but implementing the third-party APIs, frameworks, and libraries is vital for faster navigation and app functionalities. On the other hand a food delivery app or a trip booking app, these features become essential. The key is to gauge all the parameters and make the best choice before outsourcing the project. Another major feature that can highly elevate the cost is backend development. Unless your app needs to access a large amount of data, there is no need to link it to the backend database. Similarly, if you want to deploy in-app purchases, it would further hike up the cost of your app as it a whole lot of process in itself. But having an admin panel is a must for almost every app where users can sign up or log in with their credentials, check the progress of the app, and access settings. UI/UX or Visual Designs When you think about creating a mobile app you always envision an attractive user interface that is captivating and aesthetically pleasing. Even if the app is simple in functionality or is feature-rich, having beautiful UI and UX designs is a must. The innovative visual presentation will boost user engagement and draw a lot of traffic. Again you have to decide on the cost factor while finalizing the type of design you want for your app. Opting for a custom-made unique user interface design will definitely be an expensive and time-consuming affair as everything has to be created from scratch. Another option is choosing from the standard templates that come along with the platform and OS you are using. As everything is predesigned, no extra investments are required. You can just modify the personal details and it will be ready to use in a jiffy. Nonetheless, you will be compromising on creativity and risking the uniqueness factor. Another cost-determining factor is the number of screens used to complete the functionality. It is necessary to keep this in mind while creating prototypes and wireframes. Not only will the app design influence the cost estimation but actually the whole process of creating an app. The more custom elements and animations you add to the app, the more complex the design becomes, and thus more expensive will be your application. Cost of Maintaining an App You are going to incur app maintenance costs on a yearly basis. It is considered wise to allocate 15% to 20% of the initial app development cost as an annual maintenance expense. With the ever-changing technology and new unprecedented advancements, it is a common practice to continue adding new features to your app or tweaking the code to align with new OS versions or just plain old regular bug fixing. Maintaining an app is not something optional but an integral part of development. You may require to scale up your app as your business expands and it becomes mandatory to add new features into the application. But even if you have no such plans for the future, there are some standard maintenance practices:
  • Enhancing performance and stability
  • Optimizing the code
  • Continuous bug fixing
  • Upgrading for latest OS versions
  • Accommodating updates from third-party services
  • Developing new features
Now depending upon what is already included in the package and what maintenance services will be considered an add-on, will affect the overall price estimation. Essentially, development companies allow flexibility in options if you want post-release support:
  • Full-time work (ongoing) – for a fixed fee paid per month/ annually, etc
  • On-demand service – charged on the hourly rates like the development
Also, there are recurring annual charges for:
  • Registration and use of a domain name – $10-$15/year
  • Server Hostings – $40-$200/year
Your work and collaboration with the app development partner are not done just with the app release. You are in for a long haul. Other Cost Influencing Factors for App Development We have discussed above some of the fundamental factors that steer the cost of the development of a full-fledged functioning app. Nevertheless, this is not the end of it. Still, there are few more determining aspects as well that have to be considered to get a more precise estimate. These involve: Studying the Prototype Prototyping means creating a realistic mockup to check for the feasibility of the app idea and also recognize the business value of UX design. Developers create preliminary visualization of a practical app to get a genuine perception of the product’s look and feel. It is used to test how the end-users will receive the design and react to it. Also testing the clickable interactive model for usability gives a fair picture of navigation flow and any other critical design issues. This allows them to plan for maximum efficiency and avoid major changes when deep in the development phase which can be really expensive in the long run. Prototyping will increase the overall development time, which will add to billable hours and hence amp up the cost but its benefits are boundless to overlook this step. It also has numerous other added perks including inspiring new ideas and areas of improvement, setting the pace for client and stakeholder interaction, and avoiding common pitfalls and flaws for the product. Comprehensive App Testing or Quality Assurance Not any developer, however, experienced and skilled they are, can create a 100% efficient product with no sneaky bugs. To do away with the issues with app performance, it is a must to bring a QA engineer on board. Now the outsourced company may have its own QA process. They are going to test each and every functionality of the app by designing use cases and running the app through them. It is a lengthy process and takes up a considerable time and substantial cost. Just take into account that it is not advisable to release any app on the app store without regressive testing and passing a quality assurance checklist. It is better to resolve all issues beforehand than having to retract the app from the app store after it malfunctions. Quality assurance is a mini process running within the development process and has a set of steps to be followed:
  1. Requirements analysis.
  2. Test planning and discussions
  3. Designing test cases
  4. Test simulation and summary
  5. Retesting and regression testing
  6. Release testing.
This is a considerable amount of work, isn’t it? So how much would it cost to accomplish this task? On average a QA service will cost you anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000. Publishing the App Although publishing an app does not cut a big share in the total budget allocated for the complete development process, nevertheless, we should be aware of the expenses incurred while launching the app on the app stores. The charges are pretty straightforward here.  Google Play Store charges a one-off $25 payment to upload your android app. Even the process for approval is quick and simple when it comes to Google Play Store. iOS apps on the other hand need to pay a recurring yearly charge of $99 to publish on Apple App Store. There are meticulous formalities and a huge wait-around time to get the final approval. Conclusion There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to estimating the cost of developing a mobile app. Rather it is a mix and match situation where you can carefully deliberate between cost factors and features depending upon your business requirements. So if you choose to develop the app locally or outsource it to any professional app development company, being honest and transparent about vision and expectations brings you closer to more precise cost estimation. We believe that this article has enlightened you about all the factors you should consider to get a clearer answer to ”how much does it cost to develop a mobile app?” Again, these are just generalized numbers for the most common use cases. If you are looking for a personalized estimate for developing your app idea into reality, get in touch with our subject matter experts for a free quote. We will sincerely evaluate both the business and technical requirements of the future app for the most precise cost estimate. We bring on board our developers, designers, and business analysts for thorough analysis and discussions.

Ranjit Singh Ranjit Singh is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at RV Technologies. In the past 10+ years, he has focused on helping clients to expand their business through the best digital solutions. Leading a team of 100+ employees, he knows how to implement the best market practices to transform a client’s business growth and help him achieve dedicated goals.

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