Developing an app can be very lucrative, but it requires some upfront costs. So, how much does it cost to develop an app? The cost of developing an app can vary dramatically depending on the size and complexity of the app being developed. Some apps cost as little as $5,000 to develop, while others cost over $1 million!
Obviously, the more complex and feature-filled your app is, the more expensive it will be to develop. As you begin planning the development of your app, it’s a good idea to determine the budget and timeline of the project before committing to it. Doing this will help you make better financial decisions and meet your goals.
This article will outline the average costs associated with developing an app, from initial development to launching it on the App Store or web. We’ll also explore the various factors that contribute to the overall cost of app development, as well as some tips on keeping your costs under control while still creating an app that meets the requirements.
How Much Does it Cost to Develop an App?
The cost of developing an app can vary depending on several factors, such as the app’s complexity, the platforms it will run on, and the features and functionalities required. Here’s more context:
The complexity of the app:
- Simple apps with basic functionality, such as a calculator or flashlight app, can cost from $10,000 to $40,000 and more to develop.
- More complex apps, such as social media or e-commerce apps, can cost between $30,000 to $500,000 and more.
- High-end apps with complex functionalities and enterprise-level features, such as a banking or healthcare app, can cost upwards of $500,000 and even reach the millions for the most advanced apps.
The platform you use to host your app:
- Hybrid (Android + iOS) can cost from $13,000 to $16,000
- Web app development can cost from $13,000 to $16,000
- Single-platform apps (Android or iOS) can cost from $8,000 to $14,000
It’s important to note that the cost of developing an app is not a one-time expense. Ongoing maintenance, updates, and improvements will also require additional time and resources.
Factors That Affect Application Development Costs
Application development costs can be influenced by various factors, including the type of application being developed, the region where the development is taking place, the hiring of app developers, and hidden app development costs. We’ve highlighted each factor below:
The type of application being developed can have a significant impact on development costs. For example, mobile apps typically require development for both iOS and Android platforms, which can add additional complexity and costs. Generally, apps can be categorized by the following:
- Social media apps: such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- E-commerce apps: such as Amazon, Sephora, and eBay.
- Gaming apps: such as PUBG Mobile, Among Us, and Candy Crush Saga.
- Education apps: such as Duolingo, Coursera, and Udemy.
- Healthcare and fitness apps: such as ZocDoc, Medscape, and MyFitnessPal.
- Travel apps: such as Airbnb, TripAdvisor, and Google Maps.
- Productivity apps: such as Trello, Evernote, and Asana.
- On-demand apps: such as Uber, Lyft, and Postmates.
Below you can see the estimated time and cost needed to develop an app based on its type. These estimations are made through app development cost calculator.
|App Type||Estimated Time to Develop||Estimated Cost|
|Social Media||6-12 months||$50,000-$500,000|
|Gaming||2-12 months or more||$10,000-$500,000 or more|
|Health and Fitness||4-6 months||$50,000-$250,000|
|Travel and Hospitality||3-8 months||$25,000-$300,000|
The region where the development is taking place can also affect costs. In general, app development costs tend to be higher in regions with higher labor costs, such as North America and Western Europe, compared to regions with lower labor costs, such as Asia and Eastern Europe.
- North America and Western Europe: Development teams in North America and Western Europe generally have the highest hourly rates.
- Eastern Europe: Development teams located in Eastern Europe tend to have lower hourly rates compared to North America and Western Europe.
- Asia: Development teams located in Asian countries, such as India, China, and the Philippines, generally have the lowest hourly rates.
You can see the average hourly rate for app developers per region below.
Hiring App Developers
Experienced and skilled developers typically come at a higher cost but can also ensure a higher quality end product. On the other hand, hiring less experienced developers may result in lower costs but may also lead to a less polished end product. As shown below how different hiring options can affect app development costs:
- In-house developers: Hiring an in-house development team to build an app can be one of the most expensive options. The average salary for an app developer in the US is around $113,125 per year.
- Freelancers: Hiring a freelance developer can be a cost-effective option for smaller projects or when you need specific expertise. According to Upwork, the average hourly rate for a freelance app developer is around $13 to $60 per hour.
Ultimately, the choice of hiring option depends on your budget, project needs, and your level of involvement in the development process. It’s important to carefully consider all options before making a decision that can affect the quality and the app development cost.
Hidden App Development Costs
Hidden app development costs refer to expenses that may not be immediately apparent when developing an app. These costs can often be overlooked or underestimated, but they can significantly impact the overall cost of app development. Some examples of hidden app development costs include:
- Backend infrastructure: Building an app requires more than just creating the user interface. A robust backend infrastructure is necessary to ensure the app works smoothly and efficiently. Maintaining this can involve server hosting, database management, and other related expenses.
- Integration with third-party services: Many apps require integration with third-party services such as payment gateways, social media platforms, or APIs. Integrating these services can incur additional costs, such as licensing or API usage fees.
- Security features: Security should be a top priority for any app development project. However, implementing security features such as encryption, two-factor authentication, and Mutual TLS verification can incur additional costs.
- App store fees: If you plan to distribute your app through app stores such as Apple’s App Store or Google Play, you’ll need to pay fees to these platforms. These fees can include charges for app submission, updates, and hosting.
- Maintenance and updates: After launching an app, ongoing maintenance and updates are necessary to keep it running smoothly and to address any bugs or issues. Maintenance can include costs for engineering support time, server costs, and other related expenses.
- Marketing: Promotions and ads help you to reach your audience and make a successful app.
It’s important to keep these hidden app development costs in mind when budgeting for your app development project to ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of the total cost of your app.
App Development Stages
Creating a successful app is more complex than it seems. It requires a well-planned and executed development process, which includes five main stages: Planning, Design, Development, Testing, and Deployment. Each stage is mandatory and contributes to the overall success of the app.
The image below shows the average cost per stage in a development lifecycle. As you can see, the development stage consumes the highest cost, which will be clarified later.
Each stage has its own goals and objectives, that’s why they are different in terms of cost chunk of the total app development cost. Let’s give more insights about each stage.
This stage is where the app’s purpose and target audience are defined. During this stage, the app’s features, functionalities, and requirements are determined. It is essential to create a clear and concise app concept that can be easily understood by everyone involved in the development process. In addition, the planning stage involves researching the competition and determining the app’s unique value proposition. Once the planning stage is complete, the app’s overall scope and direction are established, and the team can move on to the design stage.
The cost can vary depending on the app’s complexity and the required research level. Simple apps, such as a basic to-do list app, may only require a small team to brainstorm and develop a plan for the app’s core features. However, more complex apps, such as mobile banking apps, may require a larger team to conduct extensive research into user needs and market trends to ensure the app’s success. A rough estimate for the planning phase is 10% of the total cost of app development.
The cost of the design phase of an app can vary depending on the complexity of the project, the number of screens, the type of design, and the experience level of the design team. A rough estimate for the design phase is 15% of the total cost of app development.
In this stage, the app is built. Building the app includes coding, debugging, and integrating various features. A couple of factors can determine how much time and money this stage will consume, like the number of features, the platforms it will be developed for, and the experience level of the development team. A rough estimate for the development phase is 60% of the total cost of app development.
Once the app is built, it should be thoroughly tested to identify bugs, errors, or glitches. The testing stage cost can be affected by the number of features used in the app, the testing tools used, and the size of the testing team. A rough estimate for the design phase is 10% of the total cost of app development.
After testing is passed successfully, the app or website is launched to the public or targeted audience, making it available for use. The platforms that will host the app and the deployment strategy can affect the cost of this stage. A rough estimate for the design phase is 5% of the total cost of app development.
App Maintenance Costs
When you develop a mobile or web application, it’s important to remember that the work doesn’t stop once the app is live in the app stores or on the web. The cost of app maintenance is estimated to be between 15% to 20% of the original development cost per year, and it can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the app, the platform it’s built on, the number of features and functionalities, and the size of the development team.
These costs can include things like:
- Fixing bugs
- Ensuring the security of user data
- Updating servers and software
- Providing customer support
- The cost of hosting. Hosting refers to the cost of storing your app’s data and files on servers that are accessible to users. The cost of hosting can depend on the size of your app, the number of users, and the type of hosting service you choose.
- Updating your app to ensure it stays relevant and provides a great user experience.
App Development Cost Calculators
There are some popular app development cost calculators that you can use to get a general idea of the cost of your app. Here are some:
App development cost: A free tool that gives you a cost estimate for app development via multiple questions. After answering these questions, you’ll get a full app development cost breakdown with the number of needed development hours and receive the total app development cost immediately.
Inoxoft: Estimates the app development cost based on your choices of platform, design, security, and features and retrieves the price of development for your app immediately.
Litslink: Calculates the app development cost through 27 detailed questions about product design, key features, communication, interactivity, security & ownership, and promotion, but it blocks the cost unless you enter your data.
Buildfire: A calculator that gives you many options and filters to estimate your app development cost. It includes platform, users, features, maintenance & hosting, monetization, integrations, and Buildfire services.
App Development Cost Case Study
Many customers have been able to reduce their app development and maintenance costs by simply re-platforming their infrastructure and moving from legacy systems to modern technologies. One of these customers is Marriott.
Marriott wanted to create personalized customer experiences, improve online reliability, and release new apps faster. Marriott chose Couchbase to replace its legacy infrastructure and move to an open-source solution. This decision resulted in reduced infrastructure costs, which in turn reduced app development and maintenance costs.
For more context, Mariott maintains a central reservation system called “MARSHA” that processes 38 billion dollars in reservations annually. It’s essential that it’s available 24/7, which makes the maintenance of this component very costly. After moving to Couchbase, however, Marriott was able to improve scalability and maintenance in a way that was much more cost-effective.
How to Reduce App Development Costs
Developing an app can be expensive, but there are many strategies you can use to reduce costs. Here are six ways to do that:
- Choose the right platform: Developing multiple platforms can increase development time and costs. Consider your target audience and the nature of your app to determine which platform to prioritize. Building a cross-platform app using a tool like React Native or Flutter can be more cost-effective, as it allows you to reach a wider audience with a single codebase.
- Keep the design simple: While it’s important to create an attractive and engaging design, adding too many complex design elements can increase development time and costs. Focus on a simple and clean design that still meets the needs of your target audience. Use pre-built design templates or hire a designer with experience creating simple designs to save time and money.
- Use third-party APIs: Instead of building custom solutions for every feature, consider using third-party APIs or services. These can help you save time and money on development while still providing robust functionality. Research and evaluate third-party solutions to ensure they meet your needs, are well-documented, and have a strong developer community for ongoing support.
- Optimize for scalability: Design your app with scalability in mind. Building an app that can easily scale to handle more users and features will save you money in the long run by reducing the need for major rewrites or updates. Use scalable technologies and infrastructure, like cloud-based solutions or microservices architecture, to help your app grow over time.
- Work with an experienced development team: Experienced developers can provide valuable insights and guidance on reducing development costs without sacrificing quality. Look for a team with a proven track record of building successful apps within your budget. Consider working with a development partner who can provide end-to-end services, from design to maintenance and updates, to save time and money.
- Plan for updates and maintenance: Building an app is just the first step. You’ll also need to plan for ongoing updates and maintenance to keep your app running smoothly. Use a modular development approach, where individual features can be updated or replaced without affecting the entire app, to make future updates more cost-effective. Consider building in-house expertise or working with a development partner who can provide ongoing support at a reasonable cost.
You can read more about different ways to reduce the cost of products and services for modern apps here.
How Much Will Your App Cost?
Developing a mobile app requires careful planning and consideration of various factors to keep costs under control. App type, features, region, development team size, level of security, and app interface are all important factors that can impact the cost of app development. Therefore, it’s crucial to do your research and choose the options that best align with your needs and budget.
To help estimate the cost of app development, you can use app development calculators, which can provide you with a breakdown of the cost of each feature. Additionally, learning from case studies can provide valuable insights into saving time and money during the development process.
It’s also important to consider the maintenance cost, app development stages, and the cost of hiring developers when planning your budget. Considering all of these factors will help you make informed decisions and ensure a successful app development process.
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