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How much does it cost to develop a mobile app?

16.08.2016 Pavel Сherniavskiy
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How much does it cost to develop a mobile app?

Let’s assume you have a great idea for a mobile application. Potentially, it could be the next WhatsApp or Instagram and bring you a ton of money, as well as glory and fame. That leads inevitably to the next question: How much does it cost to build a mobile app?

In order to answer this question, you need to understand what you actually want. Before seeking a mobile app developer, ask and answer the following questions:

  • Could you afford to pay a high-end firm, specialized in mobile app development? Or would you rather allow your app to be built by cheap freelancers or some dubious offshore companies in India?
  • Do you want a native app for a single platform, for example, iOS or Android, or would you prefer a cross-platform application?
  • What kind of complexity do you expect from your app? Complex apps with many features like back-end services, expensive graphics, the possibility of sharing content in social media, and other requirements could cost far more than expected.
  • How do you want to monetize your app? Including a payment service would lead to a massively increased price tag. In contrast, if you want a potential customer to pay only for installing, it would have no impact on the mobile app development cost.
  • Do you expect post-production maintenance from the developer or the software company? Such maintenance can include updates, fixes of bugs, cloud hosting, legal support, customer support, etc.

So, let’s consider some of those questions in detail. After reading this article, you will hopefully be able to answer the question: “How much to build an app?”

Offshore or High-End?

In order to develop a mobile app, you might require a surprisingly small budget, if you contract the developers from India. They will charge you somewhere between $5 and $70 per hour. On the other hand, specialists from a somewhat reputable agency in the USA will take no less than $40. The best US specialists charge up to $250 per hour, 50 times higher than the cheapest Indian app developers. You can really save a lot of money by choosing an offshore developer firm.

But what about quality? We recommend taking a good look at the apps the developers have already built. The cheapest developer can be as much of a professional as some high-end specialist. It all depends on the quality of their apps. If most of their customers are content with their work, you can probably trust them with the task.

 Here are some average rates per hour of mobile app developers around the world:

  • Between $5 and $70 in India;
  • Between $40 and $150 in Australia;
  • Between $40 and $180 in Western Europe;
  • Between $40 and $240 in the USA.

Native or Cross-Platform?

Most app developers consider the building of a native iOS application much cheaper than the same app for Android platform. So, the cost can vary significantly depending on the platform you choose.

Let’s say a simple app for iPhone will cost you $20,000. Add the iPad and the sum will increase to $35,000. For the cross-platform application (iOS, Android and Windows Phone) a US company will charge you in the region of $60,000.

Many American clients prefer to first order a native app for iOS, and only after a proven success, to extend it to other platforms.

In the case of Android, you have to consider the enormous diversity of Android devices. It will be very difficult to make your app work accurately on all the Android devices. That’s why we recommend choosing the phones or tablets on which you’d like to have your app running.

These figures show the percentage distribution of the Android market:

  • Samsung: 51.2%;
  • Motorola: 7.9%;
  • Lenovo: 6%;
  • Sony: 4.3%;
  • Huawei: 4.1%;
  • Lenovo: 3.8%;
  • HTC: 2.6%;
  • ASUS: 1.9%.

As you can see, the native app for Samsung devices will allow you to reach more than 50% of all Android devices.

Complex or Simple?

The simpler your app, the less time and money you will spend on its development. Complex apps need larger teams of developers, and that means an increase in hourly charges. A basic developer team includes one or two developers, a UI/UX designer, a QA engineer, and optionally, a back-end developer. More challenging apps require, for example, a project manager, an additional one or two developers and designers, and an admin panel developer. If every one of them worked 8 hours per day for 5 days a week, you would have to pay a weekly sum of $4000 per average American specialist. That makes $50,000 per month for a basic team, and up to $100,000 for an advanced one. Experience tells us that the development time of a simple app for one platform can take up to two months. Sophisticated apps need even more time.

Here is an example of what the different features of an iOS app will cost you in the USA:

  • E-mail login: $1,650;
  • Social media (e.g. Facebook) login: $3,300;
  • Activity Feed: $3,300;
  • Rating System: $3,300;
  • GeoLocation: $1,650;
  • Custom User Interface: $8,250;
  • User Profiles: $3,300;
  • Messaging: $4,950;
  • Shopping Cart: $6,600;
  • Calendar Integration: $2,475;
  • Social Sharing: $1,650;
  • SMS Integration: $3,300;
  • Ad Serve: $4,950;

When estimating the costs of your future app, you need to think carefully about whether you really need this or that feature, as every additional component, especially back-end services, risks bringing the costs too high.

Hopefully, we have helped you to answer the question “How much does a mobile app cost?”

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