You may have an idea of an app that can make you a million bucks. Or you want to create an app so that you can go beyond servicing your customers and wow them. Or else, just maybe an app can be an extension of your brand equity.
No matter what reason you have for building an app, there’s one thing that always overwhelms you –
“How much does it cost to build a mobile app?”
The reason cost bothers you so very much is because you feel –
- What if the cost eats away your profits (rather than accelerating it)?
- What if the idea of the app fails (and you need to pump in more money)?
- What if the first, second, third prototype doesn’t appease your ever-so-perfectionist idea (would you need to pay more)?
- What if the budget you have for building the app isn’t sufficient or way too flexible than it actually costs?
As business owners, it’s quite natural to mull over the cost of the app and never actually get started to build it. That’s why before we go to the cost-structuring, let’s talk about why it’s important to build an app! Knowing the why would help you relate to what you should expand!
Why does your business need a mobile app?
Before we jump in the reasons of why your business needs a mobile app, let’s have a glance at how app downloads have increased in the recent years (and also the future prediction of downloads). You would be able to see that in the year 2017, the numbers of app download were 197 billion. And in the year 2021, it would increase to 352.9 billion downloads.
Let’s quickly look at the top reasons to build a mobile app. They may make you realize your mojo for building an app –
App increases time invested in your products/services
The mobile usage has been on a constant rise. According to Statista, 5.07 billion people will use mobile in the year 2019. It means the increase in mobile usage would be around 140 million. Imagine if you can create an app that helps your prospects, how many customers you would be able to win it in the near future?
It enhances the accessibility
The customers have embraces accessibility. They don’t want to spend more time on their laptop, rather they’re more comfortable in investing their time in browsing apps on their mobiles. The customers spend around 2 hours 51 minutes per day on mobile. Can you see the opportunity? If you can build an app that stands out, how many eyeballs you would be able to attract?
App usage transcends usage of mobile website
Customers adopt something quickly when it is more convenient. Mobile apps are more convenient. From banking to shopping, everything they do on their app. Even if mobile websites have their share in the market, mobile app transcends in usage.
Individuals invest 89% more time on mobile apps than mobile websites. You can also have a look at the above chart that clearly shows men and women, both prefer an app over mobile websites. Does it ring a bell?
App vs. No App
Let’s say you’re a customer and you’re looking at two different brands of clothing. Both of these brands are doing great in the market, provide excellent customer services, provide top-notch cloth material, and have a customer-centric approach.
Now one brand, let’s say Y has a mobile app that provides convenience and another brand, let’s say X doesn’t have any mobile app as of now. What would you choose or value more? You know the answer, right? Having an app increases your brand value in the market. And you also get an opportunity to directly interact with your customers.
In the year 2017, 268 billion apps were downloaded. Out of which 68% said that they actually used the app they downloaded. Don’t you think odds are also in your favor?
How much does mobile app development cost you?
You would nod your head and will agree with the statistics we presented. But, now the golden question is – how much would it cost? Would I be able to afford it?
So, here’re the six factors that you need to consider while you approach the mobile app development.
The purpose & functionality of the app
This is the most important factor that you should consider. These are the questions you should ask yourself before you ever try to build an app –
- Why build this app?
- What would be the purpose of this app?
- What functionality would you include in this app?
- How the app would stand out in already crowded mobile app market?
- How the app would help the users?
- What convenience the app would offer to the users?
If you can ask and answer the above questions, the ambiguity behind “why” you should develop an app would go away. You would have clarity about what you would like to achieve through your app development.
The platforms and devices
The second factor you need to consider is a bit technical. You need to know the platforms you would launch your app on. Would it be launched only on iOS or would it also be launched on Android/Windows? Would the have any parameters in regards to the devices or it would work on all devices that can be run on the selected platforms?
The choice of platforms and devices depend a lot on the target audience you have for your app. And you need to find their habits, behaviors, patterns, preferences before you can ever select the right platforms/devices.
You need to understand what sort of visuals you would require for your app. If your app’s success is dependent on the complexity of visuals, then you should concentrate on both – user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).
An integration point communicates with an external interface. Would your app be integrated with a third party app and would it use the latter as a source of content? If yes, why? If not, why?
Usage of hardware features
Think like a consumer. When you use similar kind of apps, do you need to use any hardware features to activate the functionality of app? For example, when we open Google Map, we need to put on the GPS.
Ask yourself whether your app needs any hardware features to be activated? If yes, why? If no, why?
Depending on the functionality of the app, you need an app development team/ an app developer to support your app after the project. If your app is a complex one, the support would cost you much more and vice-versa.
An overview of different app development cost
Now, you have a clear idea what factors you need to consider while developing an app. In this section, we will give you a brief overview of how much an app would cost you on an average depending on the platform and the team you hire for development.
Here’s a snapshot of the average cost of developing an app on different platforms –
If you build an app on iOS platform
If your market is niche and you want to concentrate only on the individuals that use iPhone (around 14% in the year 2017), the average cost you would need to build an app is around $28,000. Remember, this cost is only an average and since there are many factors to be considered, this can’t be the exact figure.
The most fascinating thing is if you want to reach a larger audience and you want to build an app just for Android users, your cost would be around $23,000 on an average, $5000 lower than the development cost of an app on iOS platform.
Hint: Can you see the sweet-spot here? By developing an app just for Android users you would be able to reach 85.9% of world’s mobile users and at the same time, you would need to spend less on app development.
If you build an app on Windows platform
If you choose to build an app on Windows platform, you need to invest around $18,000 on average. Since the market share of the Windows is just 0.1% in the year 2017, you need to think whether it’s prudent to build an app only for Windows users.
On an average, you need to invest around $107,000 for hiring a team of developers in the US. If you’re just a start-up, this is a huge cost for you. You can use a specialist app developer in that case to reduce the cost of app development.
Who works on building a mobile app?
You have an overview of how much you need to spend on developing an app. The most important factor among all is the team you hire to develop an app. So, you need to know what type of team you would require building an app? What would be their roles & responsibilities? How much would they charge?
What type of team you would require to build a mobile app?
You need to have a concrete idea about who would be in the team and what they would do for you.
If you’re someone who has a small business, you would consider hiring a team, instead of a solopreneur. Why? It’s because you would need the expertise in different areas.
You need these team members in your team to successfully build your new app – an app designer, a product manager, an account manager, and a bunch of developers.
If you’re just starting out, it’s better than you hire a solo developer and do the other things yourself.
What would be their roles and responsibilities?
No matter what you choose to do – hire a whole team or hire a developer, you need to know the roles and responsibilities of a team for developing an app.
- App Designer: An app designer creates the visual content that would be coded into your app.
- Product Manager: The job of a product manager is to look at the big picture and to oversee how each function of the app would be implemented.
- Account Manager: The job of an account manager is to act as a coordinator for the product manager, developers, and designers to ensure the completion of each task.
- Developers: The developers would be developing and optimizing the app as per the requirements of the Android, iOS, and Windows devices.
How much would a giant/small company charge to develop your app?
The most important factors in costing are development process and the time-frame you allow a team to develop the app.
If you trust a start-up or a small sized company, they would use an agile process and your app would be delivered within 4-6 Months. It would cost you anywhere between $50,000 to $450,000.
On the other hand, when you approach a giant technology company, app development would take much more time – It would cost you anywhere between $350,000 to $1,000,000.
Post Release Expenses
Another chunk of the expense that you should keep in mind is the post-release expense. Only developing an app wouldn’t do the trick. You need to find out ways to –
- Do app marketing and promotion
- Backend maintenance
- Cloud hosting
- Support & Updates
Let’s have a look at the statistics of dead apps that have dried down just because there was no promotion. Around 1,601,413 apps had been on the apple app store for the last 6 years. Out of that 21.8% are not available now. Why? Because they couldn’t compete with the other apps that were available in the market.
The following graph will also allow you to understand which apps would be great after post-release and which apps would soon vanish from the market if they’re not appropriately promoted.
The post-release expense depends on the company that you hire for app development. Normally, the post-release expense is much lower than the actual cost of app development.
How much you need to pay per hour for app development?
As you can say that cost of living in each area is different. From where you hire the developers for your app development makes all the difference.
Here’s a snapshot of how much you can expect to pay per hour as per the location –
You can see that in India, the hourly rate is much lower than other countries. The per hour app development cost is higher in North America (especially in the US and Canada).
Hidden cost of developing an app
While you may think that you don’t need to expend anymore for your new app, you should consider few other factors as well.
We call it the “hidden cost” of developing an app.
Have a look at the following chart and you would have an idea about “hidden cost” of app development. Planning, design, features, infrastructure are usual costs of app development. But look at the app administration and testing.
First of all, you need to test your app to see that they’re free of any bugs and glitches.
Secondly, you need to take care of the copyrights, patents, trademark. This is legal stuff. And it can be very expensive.
Finally, you also need administration and technical support for collecting data, monitoring behavior, managing profiles on the app etc.
What if you can’t afford to develop an app?
As you can see, developing an app isn’t for everyone since it involves a huge amount of expenses.
In case you can’t afford to build an app, you need to take the help of DIY app builders that would cost you much less and would save you a lot of time as well.
Let’s have a look at few DIY app builders that are cheap and easy to use.
As you can understand app development costs a lot more than you can ever think. Plus you also need to expend for the post-release expense and the hidden cost.
If you’re just starting out and you feel that a new app would add tremendous value to your brand, we suggest that you go with the DIY app builders and develop a new app in much lower cost.
Now, it’s your turn. What do you think the best alternative to developing an app? Should you hire an internal team to do the needful or do you have any other option?
We would love to know your thoughts on the same.
Dhananjay (DJ) Goel is the CTO at Alphalogic, passionate about technology, startups, game of thrones and coffee. He enjoys working on challenging problems with innovative startups.