How much does it cost to make an app?

Dec 13th, 2017

How much does it cost to make an app?

Let us start with a plain fact: If you have a business, you need to build an app. A business mobile app can act as your company’s online representative and enables you to serve your customers in a better way. Ultimately, it results in having a loyal customer base with increased sales figures.

We can classify customized mobile apps in three broad categories depending on the number of features and complexity of the app: Basic, Moderate, and Complex. Talking about the cost of mobile app, the basic app’s price starts from as low as $5000 and a highly complex app can cost you over $45000.

Read on to understand the key factors that determine a mobile app development cost.

Mobile application development cost depends upon various factors including feature integration, functionality and the platform on which it is being launched. Most mobile app development companies offer a package based on the hours spent in development. Some companies give a cost estimate based upon features and development platform.

Major elements that decide the total app development cost include:

Project time

Development team

Cost of app elements

Post-release expenses

The market for mobile application development is vast and evolving. Whether to hire a team of developers or outsource your app project- it’s your call. However, the points mentioned above will help you make a decision in line with your business requirements.

Here we discuss these four elements:

Project Time

The mobile app development cost depends primarily on the development Now, the duration depends on the complexity of the app. The hourly-rate model is entirely based on the project duration. Many developers offer a milestone-based model, which also depends on the duration.

Various app features and functionality like screens, buttons, and app logic are crucial factors that decide the development duration. What’s more, complex app solutions may need customized code and third-party APIs that eventually increase the app development cost.

common feature estimate

Development Team

Based on the project requirements, you can hire experienced and dedicated developers in the form of either a basic or an extended team. The basic team consists of a UI/UX designer, two programmers, and a Quality Assurance (QA) executive. If your app needs backend infrastructure to develop an API then a backend developer should also be a part of this team.

The extended team has a senior designer for developing an admin panel, and three to four developers for iOS and Android platforms in addition to the basic app development team.

The decision of hiring a basic or extended team based on the app complexity. The integration of technical specs, animation, customization, and other technological advancements are major aspects to consider while hiring mobile app developers.

Integration of App Elements

Every app has some standard features according to its theme and objectives. Apart from these features, your app may require other features to meet the business requirements and offer a pleasant user experience to your customers. All these features determine the technical complexity of your app.

Here are a few noteworthy features that have a major influence on the development cost:

  • Third-party integration

It includes integrating third-party elements such as libraries, services, and frameworks. Services include social media sharing capabilities with Facebook, Twitter or Instagram among others, geo-location tagging, etc.

Even the in-app purchase feature is also technically complex because it requires a third-party payment gateway integration.

  • Admin Panel Development

Admin panel can handle the operation of apps, manage users and content, view statistics and perform other activities. The admin panel can be customized to match business needs and hence require expertise and experience.

  • Backend Development

This mainly comprises of creating an operating system that provides APIs for exchanging data between the application and a database. In brief, the backend implements the app’s business logic.

  • Using the device components

Features like clicking photos or making videos, location sharing, barcode scanner- all use device components such as NFC, Bluetooth, Camera, GPS, gyroscope, barometer, etc. These components vary among different types of devices and manufacturers.

For example, iOS app development aims at making enterprise-focused apps by using the security features of iPhones.

Hence, it is imperative to adopt the right technique and testing to ensure seamless functionality with different hardware components.

  • Devices and platforms

You can opt for an ionic app development where a single app is designed to work on all major platforms, and finer aspects are adapted as per the platform’s requirement.

On the other hand, the native mobile operating system is focused on two major platforms- Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Both these platforms are updated regularly and it is also important that the application functions seamlessly on the older versions of the platform as many users are still using older devices. This is particularly true for the Android OS. Android app development is designed to meet this need.

In fact, the percentage of people who adopt the latest version of the operating system, even by updating their device platform, is much smaller than those who are using an older version of the platform. Likewise, it is essential to update the application with every new platform update.

In the case of iOS apps, besides the version compatibility, it is important to maintain device compatibility too. In the case of android app development, the factors that influence the app design are –

– Market share of each Android device manufacturer
– Presence of the device in specific markets
– Client preference
– Android OS version

The number of devices determines the variety of screen sizes, resolutions, hardware and testing. It will be more cost-effective to develop an app only for the best-selling mobile devices. This is one of the reasons why it is cheaper to create an iOS app than an Android app.

Post-release expenses

Once the app is tested and released in the market, the next challenge is to make its presence felt. Your efforts to achieve this objective include app promotion campaigns, app analytics, and App Store Optimization (ASO) techniques.

Other post-release activities include app maintenance, updates, customer support, backend server maintenance, cloud hosting, etc. Post-release costs are not part of the development cost and developers offer them as additional services. In brief, you need to keep the provision for maintenance and support costs to keep your application updated.

Also, at times, your app needs a special functionality, customized feature integration or any legal permissions. In such cases, the app development cost can be increased.

Let’s have a look at the estimated mobile app development cost for various popular types of apps.

Cab-hailing or ride-hailing app (Like Uber, Lyft, etc.)

Any cab-hailing or riding app consists of two separate apps- Driver app and Passenger app. Both these versions have tens of core features and some additional features as per the market trends and user requirements. Some of the key features that every cab-hailing or taxi app requires are location identification through GPS technology and routing. Also, users need a few security features and integration of maps. The cost of taxi app is based on features and functionality.

On-demand delivery app (Like Postmates, GrubHub, etc.)

Be it a food delivery business or transportation and logistics business, the on-demand delivery app can address your business objectives efficiently. You can develop your on-demand delivery app from a reliable mobile app development company and boost your business by reaching a huge audience. You can determine the must-have features for the on-demand app in line with your business model, market trends, and the needs of the target audience.

Even if you have budget constraints, you can come up with an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for your business. The on-demand app development enables you to bring updated versions of your app with necessary or additional features and functionality. Startups can start with a basic feature- a social sign-in. Users just hate to give personal information in a lengthy registration form. And therefore, social media-based registration remains handy.

The integration of the sign-in feature can take up to 125 hours and you need to pay up to $6250 for it. Another important feature is the geolocation. If you want to come up with a restaurant or food delivery app, this feature enables your app users to find the exact place of their delivery order in real-time.

Instant Messaging (IM) app (Like WhatsApp, Telegram, Slack)

IM app like WhatsApp starts with the registration process and address book access. After entering the phone number, the app users get an authorization SMS or OTP. Once the user is registered with your messaging app, a contact list appears to select the person. Group Chat is another useful feature in such an app. Stickers, emojis, etc. can increase the interactive value of your messaging app.

If you want your app users to share short voice messages, pictures, and videos, then you need to include a multimedia transmission feature. Other useful features are geolocation and notifications. Here is a list of necessary features in an instant messaging app with approximate development time in hours.

messaging app estimate

Considering all these features, the development process for such an app can be stretched up to more than 600 hours. It gives us an approximate cost of a WhatsApp like messenger app at $30K for a single native platform. You may opt for a cross-platform app to save big on the duration and cost. But, it is better to consult a reputed mobile app development company for building a cross-platform app with desired features.

Search and Discovery App (Like TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc.)

This type of app is in trend as people just love excursions anytime in the year. The search-and-discovery app can enable the users to find anything in the city like the luxurious restaurant, a gas station, and a landmark.

Such app has four key features- activity stream, search based on geolocation, user profile, and reviews. You can also consider integrating additional features like social sign-in, pictures and video uploading, filters, and in-app purchases to make your discovery app more powerful and popular. However, you may need to pay more for adding these features.

The search and discovery app can cost you between USD 20000 to USD 55000 as per the number of features.

Online marketplace and hotel app (Like Airbnb, Trivago, etc.)

Airbnb is a big name in the traveling app domain. With services in more than 190 countries, the app has written a success story. If you want to make an app like Airbnb, here is your list of necessary features along with approximate time for development.

marketplace app estimate

Summing up, if you want to build an app like Airbnb, it will take around 1130 hours that approximately cost you more than $50K. Here we have considered the hourly rate of app developers as $50 an hour. However, this is just a rough estimate. The mobile app development companies can give you an exact figure based on the project and business needs.

Photo-sharing or Photo-editing app (Like Instagram or Fotor)

Instagram does not need any introduction today. Here is the question- Why has Instagram gained so much popularity? The answer is- interesting features in a simple interface accompanied by a seamless performance. If you want to make a photo-sharing app like Instagram, it will take roughly 950 hours and cost you around $40K.

Here, we would like to suggest that you should go for a native application for a photo-sharing or photo-editing app. It can certainly give the most pleasant and rich experience to your app users. Registration, photo editing tools, filters, and social sharing are common features of both these apps. The photo-editing app takes approximately 400 hours to develop, and you can get the app at the half-price as that for the photo-sharing app.

Here it is fair to mention that the mobile app development cost can vary significantly if the set of features is different.

The global price game

These days, there are many mobile app development companies are available to make the selection of the right app development service provider a herculean task. So, how does one choose? Well, you can pick developers on the basis of domain expertise and previous work. They should be familiar with the market trend and user requirements.

When it comes to price, geography plays a big role in influencing prices. On an average, a US or Canada-based company will charge $150 to $250 and Australian, West European or UK-based companies will charge between $80 to $170. Eastern European and Indian companies will charge around $25 to $180.

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