How Much Does It Cost to Make a Mobile App?

Demand for developing the mobile app is massive and growing. In order to know about how much does it cost to make an app, it’s important to know a few things such as how much time will it take to build the app?, What type of app is being developed?, What is the app development process?

Cost

Before knowing the cost of developing an app, knowing the crucial factors that are going to impact app development cost is important:

Platform and Operating System Supported

The price of developing an app may vary, depending on the which platform you choose such as Android, iOS or both. You also need to decide on the type of device it will run on, for example, a mobile or a tablet.

Here you need to decide if you should build on native, hybrid or a web app. Apps usually built on native platform provide best user experience, but it is expensive to keep native apps updated and to develop across multiple platforms. Hybrid, on the other hand, costs less as compared to native app development and can be built faster across multiple mobile platforms. The web app is best when there is a minimum requirement of native gestures and no requirement of mobile device features, web app development is one of the most inexpensive options.

Business Model

Business Model helps in deciding the cost of the app. The ultimate goal of your business model is to make a profit. How much does it cost to make an app depends on the way you offer the app, i.e. if an app is free to download and use, if it is being charged via in-app purchase or if it is sold for a fixed price. For instance, if you decide to build the in-app purchase model, then it will take a long time to implement and the cost will also increase.

Designing an app

Mobile app cost also depends on the designing aspects of an app such as app complexity, designer’s level, and geographical location and project size. To look the best, the app also needs icons, tabs, buttons and many other features to increase user engagement. An average app design can cost anywhere from $20000 to $35000 and more. The cost also depends on the designer’s and developer’s experience, the mobile app development company, and hourly rate.

Wireframing is also the part of app design. Wireframes include the minimum model of layout and structure of each screen. With the higher number of features, the time required will increase, along with the increase in cost, due to the more complex design.

Third Party Integration

Third Party Integration is done to enable certain features in the mobile app. This integration can increase or decrease the cost of your app. For example, there are services that provide infrastructure to build apps with features such as video streaming, chatting etc. Third party integration model is on a subscription basis and pricing depends on usage.
Mobile App Development Stages

Mobile app development cost also depends on the stages of app development. The stages in app development and the time taken by each stage go hand-in-hand.

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The process of mobile app development has the following stages:

  • Design
  • Development
  • Testing
  • Deployment
  • Maintenance cost of an app
  • App enhancement
  • App marketing

Design

The designing cost of an app initially depends on the complexity of an app. If any of the iOS or Android app doesn’t require any complex design than the time taken to design an app will be less and the cost will also be less. App design is calculated on the basis of project complexity.

Information Analysis:

This includes market research, customer research etc, depending on the requirement. The estimated time taken is 20-40 hours

Prototyping:

Prototyping includes User experience (UX) design, usability testing and validating the concept. The estimated time is roughly around 40-80 hours.

Visual design:

It includes the look and feel of the product. The tools used for visual design are sketches, InVision, Pixate and other software that can make the design appear more realistic. The estimated time for visual design is around 80-200 or more hours, depending on the complexity of an app.

Design cost by project complexity

Simple App: Simple app designing usually includes one platform and standard UI components. Time taken to design simple app is around 100-150 hours. If we calculate the cost based on $50 per hour rate, which is considered as near average cost. Then the simple app design will cost you around $5,000.

Middling Complexity App: This type of app design includes additional screens, complex interactions, and different content types. Time taken to design Middling Complexity app is around 200-250 hours. It can cost around $10,000 on the basis of a $50 hourly rate.

Complex App: the Complex app has two or more platforms and includes the variety of features. The time taken to make Complex app design is around 400 hours and the cost of designing is around $20,000 on $50 per hour basis.

Development

The cost of developing an app depends on the complexity, features to be included, the platform on which the app will run and other factors. The cost of Android and iOS app development depends on the time needed to implement certain app features.

Average time and expenses for development

To give you a general idea, if we take the rate at $50 per hour as an average then,

Basic App– 3 to 4 screens, one basic function, and no data storing:

Developing a basic app with simple functions, take around 300-600 hours, so the basic app will cost around $15000 for development.

Medium App– Includes backend database and integrated APIs

Developing a medium complex app will take somewhere around 600-800 hours, so the cost for development of medium complex app will be around $20,000 to $50,000.

Complex App– Multiple features, streaming, networking etc

Complex app development is more time consuming and has a number of features. Hence, the time taken to develop a complex app can be 1200 hours or more and can cost more than $50,000.

Influencing Factors

These are some influencing factors that contribute to the app development cost:

  • Features and functionality
  • Visual design and customization
  • Number of platforms
  • Number of screens
  • Backend Infrastructure
  • Type of app being developed

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Testing

Testing is an important component in mobile app development. According to the app development experts around 40% of the app, development budget is spent on the testing of an app.

Emulators vs Real device

The emulator is a software program that allows the mobile to imitate the features of another computer or the mobile software, by installing them on your computer or mobile. Emulators are cheap, accessible and simple. Emulators are often free or charge low monthly user fees for the software.

Real devices are stronger and steadier, they provide true User Experience (UX) and offer the tester to test the real-time scenarios. Real devices are costly as compared to the emulator. The cost of obtaining and managing the real device with logistics is high. The cost of buying around 12 devices can cost around $270-$400 each and this alone can quickly drain out your budget.

Automated Testing vs Manual testing

Generally, Automated testing is considered to be good for a big and complex project. Automation testing tools are expensive in the short-term but can save the money in the long-term. Manual testing is time-consuming and sometimes tedious and requires investment in human resource.

Although initial investment in automated testing is more than manual testing, the test cases are executed using automation tools and so fewer testers are required in automated testing. Unlike in automated testing, In manual testing, you don’t need to put the same upfront cost in the software.

Deployment

Deployment usually requires less amount of time. Deployment process includes licensing and publishing on the Google’s Play store and Apple’s App Store.

Google charges the one-time registration fee of $25 which you need to pay before uploading your app on Play Store. While Apple charges $99 per year and Microsoft charges between $12 to $99 per year depending on the account type.

There are no hosting fees charged by Apple and it handles all payment processing. You receive 70% of sales revenue for your app.

The maximum amount of APK published on Google Play is 100MB. If you publish your application and make it free, you cannot at a later date start charging for the same application. This is one of the rules of Google Play.

App Enhancement and Maintenance cost

The cost of developing an app doesn’t just end with the development of an app. The maintenance of an app is also a very crucial part after the app is developed. Generally, the app maintenance cost ranges from 20-30% of total cost of mobile app development. For instance, if you develop an app for $200,000 then you will need to pay around $40,000 per year for maintaining that app.

The maintenance plan should also include what new features and functionalities will be introduced, and when. According to the survey by Forrester, 30% of companies update their mobile app at least once each month, while 53% do it every six months.