In this article, I will help you determine what you will pay to get an app for your business developed. Both App store and Play Store have more than 2 million apps each. Both app stores grow by 300 apps per day, and their future looks even brighter. Therefore mobile economy is increasing steadily and shows no signs of stopping.
So, if you have thought about an app for your business, the key question you probably have right now is “how much does it cost to make an app?” I have researched multiple resources ranging from app surveys, app companies reports and provided a summarized article.
Without further ado, let me mention that app prices are hard to estimate and varies from $10,000 to $240,000. Small apps with simple features might cost between $10,000 and $50,000. Studies of Clutch and Outsystems confirm this wide range of potential project cost from $5,000 to $500,000+ and a timeline of 1 to 9+ months. Goodfirm’s research indicates that the cost to make an app of a complex functionality is around $70,000 - $100,000 and the app with minimum feature-set - $40,000 to $60,000.
The wide range of app prices is due to multiple factors at play. Different developer rates and location, number and complexity of project features, time for development, design uniqueness, costs on marketing and so on impact the cost of making a mobile application. The following factors affect the price of making mobile applications.
- The type of application (native, hybrid, mobile game, business, social networking, lifestyle. etc.)
- The platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, etc.)
- The app design (basic, individual, custom)
- Number of pages
- Features & infrastructure.
Now let us dig deeper into each factor. The above features will be explained in detail to give you a clearer picture to estimate app price and also determine who to develop your application. This analysis will also help software developers know how to price mobile applications.
1. Type of application
The average cost to make an application is highly dependent on the type of app you will develop.
a. Native applications
These are apps that target a particular platform. They aim at the best user experience, fast work and optimization. They are usually large and heavy. They make use of APIs and may process a wide range of features simultaneously. The cost of making native apps will increase with the number of platforms you want to support. These apps usually are business apps, education apps and entertainment apps. An example is WhatsApp.
b. Hybrid applications
These are cross-platform apps. A single code works for all platform. They are best suited to reach many people at the start. The cost of developing and maintaining these apps is less. They are less optimized, lack access to APIs and cannot offer the native user experience. They are suitable for small and medium communication apps, lifestyle apps.
c. Database-driven apps
These are apps with huge data sets to operate. They store data on the device or on a web server. They are more complex and to work as desired, additional features like internet connection, access to gallery or file storage might be required. Examples are mobile dictionary apps.
d. Game apps
Games may be either simple or complex. A more complex game will cost more. Some advanced games have 3D graphics and physics, global ratings, AR support, even social media integration. Game apps are the most popular applications worldwide. And they are also the most profitable category of applications. Example of game app is Angry Birds game app that cost near $140,000 to develop and made $70 million in the first year.
2. Mobile app developer
There are 2 options to choose from: mobile app development agencies and freelance developers.
Hiring a professional agency is a more expensive option. The good thing is that there is reliability. The managers and app developers are skilled and used to working together as a team. Therefore, the team will help you to the best app out of your app idea. There is also discipline as companies ensure that employees do their work on time and well.
Freelancer developers may also create quality apps. The option is cheaper and the end result may be of same quality as of developer companies. So the biggest advantage of freelance developers is that they are cheaper than software development companies. The disadvantages are: no manager to control the team, so you will coordinate the team by yourself, communication issues and lack of skills.
3. Developer team to create an app
Even a small application should be created by a team. This ensures high quality and better user experience since everyone is engaged in the development process. Of course more complex apps require more people in the development process. The budget for each individual in the end will determine the total cost of the application.
A basic development team may include:
- Project manager
- UI/UX designer
- QA engineer
Extended development team:
- 1 project manager
- 2-4 app developers
- 1 back-end developer
- 1-2 UI/UX designers
- 1 QA engineer
- 1 system administrator
Therefore, the bigger the team the higher the cost to create an app. But the may provide superior application to a smaller application.
4. Application Design
Design means the art of creating a plan. A famous quote from Steve Jobs adds that design is not just what it looks like and feels like, design is how it works. In mobile app development design implies aspects like visual design, user interfaces and UX, logos, icons, branding, wireframes, etc. A professional senior designer may cost $150 per hour while a less experienced designer can take $45 per hour. The geographical location of the designer, complexity of the app design and platform (iOS or Android) will impact the cost of app design.
5. Key app features
The cost of developing an app is largely dependent on the set of features and design. There is no fixed price for a feature as features vary from project to project. The features could have different designs and could have different logic behind them. Most common app features are:
a. User login
This is when your app users have to register and login to use the app. The most popular sign in options are registration via email or phone and signing in through social media. Social sign in makes it easier to access an app, as well as automatically creates a user profile and collects all public data about a person. This is a standard practice in app development, and it takes around 20 hours. It translates into $500-1,000 cost.
b. Push notifications
These are real-time updates to inform users about anything related to the app. This is a must-have feature for 99% of apps today. There are different types of push notifications ranging from simple text, ones with images and ones with clickable buttons. Also app logic will determine the push notification. For example when and to whom the notifications are sent. The development timeline is between 20 and 200 hours. The cost may range from $1,000 to $10,000.
How users go from one screen to another should be envisioned and planned before development starts. Navigation is basically how users go from one screen to another, how they go back to the main menu, how they take actions, exit the app etc. Scrolling, swiping, action buttons, arrows, icons and more, mean that UI architecture is the basis for an application to be built on. This logic demands 10+ hours, which may cost $250-500.
Other common features include:
- Portrait or Landscape view at $500 - $1,000.
- Media Content at starting from $1,000.
- Geolocation at $1,000 - $2,000.
- Chat or Messaging at $2,000 to $4,000.
- Ads at $1,000-2,500.
- Payments integration at $2,500 to $5,000
- Multi-language support at $350-750.
- Offline mode at $1,000-2,000
- Database at $750-1,500
- Data encryption at $500-1,000
- Custom Search at $250-500
6. App maintenance cots
Unfortunately, your expenses do not end on the app release. The moment you publish your app on App store or Google Play store is just the end of a chapter and beginning of another. You need to get people download your app and keep using it. You should target your DAU (daily active users).
The average cost of maintaining an app is about 20% of the development cost per year. For example, if your app development costs $100,000, you can estimate that app maintenance will cost you around $20,000 per year. Additional features may drive up the cost of app maintenance, which may include:
- App stores developer fee – $25 at Google Play, $99 at Apple App.
- Powerful servers – $20-$60/month
- Push notifications – $10-$30/month
- Payment gateways – $50-$100/month (plus a fee on each transaction)
- Emergency maintenance – depends on the nature of emergency
- Third party APIs charges
- Bug fixing
You have seen that the cost of making an app depends on many factors. Developer rates and location, application size and complexity, platforms technologies are included. I hope that my little research will assist you in getting appropriate answers. The biggest industry surveys suggest the cost range from $100,000 to $500,000 to develop an enterprise mobile app:
- According to ThinkMobiles survey, a median price to create an app is $171,450.
- Kinvey survey shows a median cost to create an app is $270,000.
- Different online cost calculators indicate a price tag between $200,000 and $350,000 for an app with many features.
- The cost range stated by app development companies is $100,000 – $500,000.