There is an important question about mobile app ecosystem that presents an interest for companies that go mobile, people, who consider app development as their career, or reporters who have an app development beat to write about – how much does it cost to develop an app? For businesses that go mobile knowing an app development cost is important to account it as one of the major constituents of a total go-mobile strategy cost. For app development companies it’s an important information to be able to come up with a competitive pricing.
What we know about apps is their total number and how much times they were downloaded to date, but when it comes to their development cost, we only have an approximation. And the reason is not a lack of a wish to come up with a specific number, but due to an app development process cost depends on too many variables to being able to estimate it accurately. But there are several budget factors that will help you to shape a development cost of an app:
- App functionality and purpose – what an app will be actually capable of doing for its users.
- Mobile platforms and devices supported – whether an app will be developed for iOS only or has an Android / Windows Mobile version as well. What specific devices will it support, e.g. iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S+, Samsung Galaxy S6 and so on.
- Integration points – will an app be integrated with third party apps, what will be the source of its content.
- Use of visual objects – complexity of visual objects inside of an app will significantly influence the cost.
- Use of a phone hardware features – whether an app will be using such smartphone features as GPS navigation, NFC technology for iOS devices, motion co-processor and so on.
- Maintenance plan – once an app development project is over, certainly it will require a technical support from its developer.
Let’s take a look at some approximations for an app development cost, based on data gathered from a number of app development companies.
Key App Development Cost Statistics:
- Average cost to develop an iOS app – about $28k
- Average cost to develop an Android app – about $23k
- Average cost to develop a Windows Phone app – about $18k
The bulk of an app development is focused on the duopoly of iOS and Android mobile operating systems and hence it makes sense to analyze app development cost for these specifics mobile OS.
Average Cost to Develop a Mobile App, by Operating System (in US dollars)
This chart presents a baseline for an app development cost for the major four mobile operating systems. The iOS operating system is the most expensive one to develop for, but, as we mentioned earlier, it does bring app developers the highest profits among all mobile app development platforms. Blackberry is the cheapest mobile platform to development for, but at the same time it’s the one that a handful developers create apps for, because its adoption is in decline for several years in a row. Currently Blackberry OS is in the lowest point of the success it had before iOS came into play in 2008.
Mobile App Development Cost Constituents
Now let’s look at what constituents an app development cost is made of. This year Clutch B2B research and reviews company conducted a research among app developers to reveal in what proportion various stages of an app development constituent to its cost. Interestingly enough, infrastructure turned out to be the biggest contributor. Activities like initial setup and basic controls, data storage, third-party API integration, access to enterprise data, data encryption and scalability take the biggest part of an app development cost.
Cost to Develop Different Type of a Mobile App
Different type of apps has a different development cost associated with it. The difference originates from the level of an app’s complexity. For example, if it has a backend server support or not, whether an app has a built-in user analytics, backend CMS support or not, if it has a built-in shopping cart or social media sharing features and so on. The graph above presents four types of an a mobile app development complexity. The price tags associated with each type of apps are approximations but they do provide you a good ballpark for each type an app development difficulty.
App Development Hourly Rate, by Location
Because of a different state of economy an hourly rate for mobile app development varies in different parts of the world. On the graph above we can see, that among six regions India has the lowest rate ($10 to 50+ an hour) and US the highest one ($60 to $125 an hour), which is not a surprise at all. On the graph the Elite segment presents top professional app developers, Capable – companies with a high quality of app development and Upcoming – companies that have entered the market recently.
When businesses estimate a development cost of their future app, first of all, they need to factor in a development team location and an app complexity – both factors have a great impact on an overall development cost. Given the relatively small difference between iOS and Android app development and both mobile platforms high adoption level, it would be a smart strategy for businesses that go mobile to develop an app for both platforms simultaneously. Since infrastructure is the biggest contributor to an app development cost, it’s quite logical for companies to do their best to save on things like data storage and scalability, third-party API integration, if there are several options available to choose from.