Businesses in the digital age have continued to look for ways to engage their customers. User experience (UX) is a big deal today. One way to give your customers an amazing user experience is building an app.
An app gives you a cutting edge advantage over your competitors and can drive up your revenue.
Few wonder why there’s a rush after the cost of app development lately. The cost of app development, unlike many other products and services, is not on a price tag like an item on a store shelf. It’s also not something an app developer can put on a price list and leave there.
It would be misleading to name a blanket price or set a range, like $1,000, $100,000, or $1,000,000.
Before developing an app, there are several factors to consider. There are costs that don’t immediately appear but add up to be a fortune. Most don’t want to spend their entire budget on developing apps. Below are some of the factors of app development costs:
The app developer
The type of app you need and what the app should do
There are other important considerations that influence the thrusts of these factors. This post discusses them.
The App Developer
Don’t expect the cost of developing apps to be the same everywhere. The charges of an independent contractor will be small. The charges of a fledgling development agent will be higher. The app cost will be higher still if your developer is a big corporation.
The reason for such variation in the app cost structure shouldn’t be too difficult to explain. Let’s say your budget is $10,000 or lower, there may be a contractor who will be willing to work with that.
An independent app development contractor may not be the best developer. While you may be fortunate to contract one that will do a great job, there are a lot of risks involved. Your app development may take longer than you have scheduled. You may not get the best effort of an independent contractor since they have other clients to serve.
The next available option is an app development agency. The cost will be higher if an agency is developing your app. Even so, a vital determinant of the price here is the size of the agency in question.
The most viable option of the app developer is a big corporation. You pay for the reputation of the company. A corporation may charge $100,000 while an independent contractor charges $5,000 for the same task.
Apart from paying for the track record, you can have access to their data. You can check on the performance of a mobile app they’ve developed before. Such information isn’t accessible in the case of an independent developer.
All that boils down to the fact that the choice of the developer will affect the cost of app development.
The Process of App Development
The process of development is crucial to how much you will pay for the app. Your understanding of the process matters. This is because you will have to outsource as many aspects of the project as you can’t handle yourself. This increases the budget.
For instance, someone who can’t write code will have to engage the services of several developers.
The complexity of the app will determine their cost. And the more developers you involve, the more money you will spend. With $10,000 or less, you could get an expert in app development. And if you can find a cheaper bargain, you are in luck. Of course, you get what you pay for.
Another factor that affects costs is the platform, whether you build the app for Android, iOS, or both. This is why it is important to give consideration to hybrid vs native apps. There can be a huge gap in cost between the two. Anyone looking to build a native app should determine the platform on which it will run ahead of time.
Native apps usually enhance the user experience. This is because they usually stick to definite specific guidelines. They’re developed to access some hardware on users devices. Contact lists, camera, music player, and GPS, for example, lend their content out to native apps.
That is why native app development costs more than the development of hybrid apps.
The hybrid app development is faster and can launch to the consumer market. Hybrid apps also allow you to launch on both Android and Apple platforms. A native app may cost about $100,000 or more. Hybrid app development may cost about $10,000 assuming that all other factors are equal.
What Type of App Do You Want to Build?
There are some basic apps that don’t cost much. It costs a few thousand dollars to develop device or functionality apps. Some apps like calculator, timer, recorder, flashlight, or stopwatch will not be costly.
They are part of many devices. If you are a first-timer or on a low budget, start with such apps, they’re easy to develop. You only need basic programs for them to run on devices. In fact, some of these mobile apps can cost as low as $1,000.
But if you are looking to develop more complex apps, prepare yourself to spend some more. The more complex an app is, the more costly it becomes. Some apps are too expensive for those who don’t have a big budget. This includes social media apps, gaming apps, and payment apps. Others are apps that sync with the Internet and apps that use GPS.
Such apps hardly cost less than $100,000, regardless of the category of the developer. Their development is not only complicated, but it also takes more time to build. Hence, the app development costs will be more.
Cost factors that come together to make building an app more expensive are:
- back end development
All these costs are on top of the coding. It shouldn’t be surprising if such an app comes with a bill of $500,000 or more.
For the sake of development cost, below are the types of apps as they are in their respective stores:
- Health and fitness
- Photo & video
- Social media
What you want the app to do for you and your users adds to the cost.
That’s why you must be clear about the type of app you want from the start. An addition of a few features here and there has serious cost implications. An app that prices for somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000 could cost up to $50,000, or even $100,000.
For instance, if you want a business app to calculate your RoI and help you file taxes. You want the same app to guide you through your journey. Is that a travel app or a business app? You want a social media app that plays music, videos, and games. Apart from increasing the development cost, it will also confuse users.
On the categorizing of apps and their cost range, the table below can help.
It’s a product of a decisive and comprehensive survey. They provide a general idea of what you should expect the cost of development of apps to be. This is according to their
types and functions, based on the developer’s taste.
|1||Standalone app/ No network access app||Camera, Calculator, Clock, Settings||$50,000 or less|
|2||Data consumption only app||Calendar, StocksWeather,||$50,000 – $100,000|
|3||User authentication/Login app||Bible App, ESPN, Google Drive||$100,000 – $300,000|
|4||Social networking app||Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter||$150,000 – $500,000|
|5||E-commerce app||Amazon, Stitch Fix, Honest||$200,000 – $1,000,000|
|6||On-demand app||Instacart, Postmates, Uber||$100,000 – $1,500,000|
|7||Two-sided marketplace app||Care.com, TaskRabbit, Wag!||$200,000 – $1,500,000|
|8||Internet of Things (IoT) / Hardware app||Eero, Nest, Automatic||$200,000 – $2,500,000|
Standalone app/ No Network Access App
As you can see in the examples above, these are apps that don’t have a server component built into them. They don’t need any network access to function as they are standalone apps. Internet connectivity is becoming pervasive and data cost continues to lower worldwide. That is why the apps in this category are not as common anymore.
These apps are standalone. This does not mean they can’t interact with the network on devices. For instance, users of a camera app can share photos or videos through a messaging app. This requires some network connectivity. The setting app usually comes with devices as a mobile app. It also needs the connectivity to conclude some of its functions. The development of apps in this category costs the least.
Data Consumption Only App
These apps can’t function without network connectivity. Data consumption apps can run without connectivity. But, they won’t serve any real purpose of developing them if there is no data connection. This includes stocks and weather apps. No stock or weather app would bring any information unless it has used data from a third-party.
Some of these apps come with the user’s device. Third-party developers’ apps may have some features like logins and syncing among others. This makes them more extensive versions of those apps.
They cost a bit more than standalone apps.
User Authentication / Login App
The beginning of the complexity of an app is when its use requires user authentication. This introduces extra costs. When a user logs in, they expect to see several other features. These are the features that justify the need for user authentication.
Such features may include interacting and exchanging data with other users. These include photos, music, videos, and articles. They can also invite and add other friends and relatives.
To build such features into an app attracts huge costs. Take for example, apps like Bible App and ESPN. Users can interact with them on a minimal level and end it there without having to login. But the apps become more interesting and useful upon creating an account and logging in.
The cost of developing these apps is higher than that of the data consumption only app.
Social Networking App
Social networking apps are created to allow user-interaction. They enable users to interact with one another and create large personal networks. Millions of users are now connecting every moment. This is due to the existence of the most popular forms of these apps. Examples are Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, and YouTube.
It’s actually hard to fix the cost of developing this type of app. Surveys state that the apps are always increasing their contents and features. They update from time to time. That means the cost of such apps is actually indefinite. None of them offer the same feature.
Users have realized that videos and filters are extra features of Snapchat. Those features were not there at the beginning. As late as 2018, Facebook and YouTube are still adding more features.
It is difficult to peg this type of app development cost. Yet, it costs much more than other previous types of apps already discussed.
The E-commerce apps combine some features of user authentication and social networking apps. Users log in to shop and interact with sellers who have already displayed their catalogs. The app will leverage APIs or webs to make it possible to pull back products still in stock.
The payment is another aspect of E-commerce apps that separates it. As a user adds a product to their cart, they have to check out and make a payment transaction. They may do this through the app itself or through other payment gateways. These include Paypal, Braintree, Webpay and more.
Developing apps like this can cost as much as a whopping $1,000,000.
The on-demand app also combines the features of other apps. Users need to buy services. These mobile apps incorporate transactional elements. There are, but, two unique features of this type of apps. Sellers need advanced mapping and routing information while buyers pay.
Take Uber for example. The riders pay while the drivers don’t. Drivers need advanced mapping and routing functionality, while the riders don’t. It takes a lot of time and costs a lot to build and develop this app. It’s better if the app is on both Android and iOS platforms.
If you are looking to develop an app like this, do not budget anything less than $100,000. Be prepare to spend up to $1,500,000 for the development of any app in this class.
Two-Sided Marketplace Apps
Apps in this class are like on-demand apps because they both share many features. There are supply and demand sides to two-sided marketplace apps, as surveys reveal. The activity of businesses and network effects are adding values to both sides of the market. Suppliers love the growing and stable demand while the buyers also like the volume of supply.
It will cost up to $200,000 to develop an app in this category and you can cough up as much as $1,500,000 to get it completely ready.
IoT / Hardware App
The Internet of Things (IoT) apps are to enhance communicating with smart objects. These include the doorbell, home assistant, lights, medical device, and toothbrush among others. It has been like this since 2008 and IoT apps are advancing this course.
When an object is IoT based, it becomes a “smart” object. That’s why expressions like “smart toothbrush,” “smart doorbell,” and the likes are often used. The interactions with IoT apps and hardware gave birth to the idea of referring to them as smart.
IoT apps usually need to create ways of sending commands and pulling data. This requires close collaboration with hardware builders. In some cases, IoT apps want their personalized ROM. This is because they need a lot of computations.
Up until 2018, the development of IoT apps has been the costliest, requiring up to $2,500,000.
There are several factors that determine the cost of app development. They include functions, features, the developer, and the type of app. Others factors play different roles in fixing the cost of app development.
Another factor is the budget of the person needing the app for their business.
If you are looking to build an app for business or company, these are crucial factors you need to consider before deciding on what type of app to build. It is important to note that the cost of app development has been anything but constant. It continues to vary in the marketplace.