How Much Do Good Mobile Apps Cost?

by | Dec 3, 2015 | Apps, Mobile

Good mobile apps – how much does it cost to get them? The answer to the question is one of the most sought after nuggets of wisdom desired by our potential clients – and you’re probably wondering about the answer, too. In the fairly infantile world of widespread app development, which feels even newer, mind you, to the companies that now need the apps to grow their business – the true cost of a high quality mobile app is still not common knowledge by any means.

So how much does it really cost to develop and purchase a good mobile app? Costs obviously vary, depending on the agency or shop hired, and whether the app is standalone or more complex (an app that requires a back-end server or integrated APIs can change cost by a wide margin). Many app developers recommend a rule of thumb so you don’t experience sticker shock – if you don’t have more than $10,000 to budget, you may want to reconsider your plan of developing a mobile app for your company.

We’ve seen the costs range from thousands of dollars up to over a million – and that’s just for V1.0. To be sure about your app, which factors should you consider in deciding how much you should really be spending?

Boutique Shops vs. Big Guns

Realistically speaking, the biggest app development companies may not even bat an eye at your project unless your budget is at least $500,000. In the grittiest world of app development, clients privy to 15-minute exploratory calls may be given a ballpark estimate that costs more than a single family home in San Jose or Berkeley. Indeed, apps by the “big guns” of the industry, the 800 pound gorillas, are going to cost a pretty penny. If you’re looking to engage with a smaller agency, you can expect to pay anywhere between $150,000 to $400,000 on V1.0. The smallest shops of a few dedicated developers may cost anywhere between $50,000 to $100,000, depending on your needs.

“Easy” Apps

Some clients may claim that the app should be easy to develop because its API integration or server component is less than complex. However, depending on the project, even standalone apps without any of these features can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. It comes down to the specific feature set of the app. As a helpful indicator, you may be able to approximate the cost of a standalone app by cutting the prices of the feature-heavy apps above in half. To get a quality app, expect to spend at least around $25,000 or so.

Android vs. iOS

If you’ve been researching app prices, you may be familiar with the so-called “Android tax”, lending itself to the fact that Android apps are considered harder to build and design, even after years of advancements. In reality, an Android app could take up to 2-3 times longer to build out than an iOS app. The typical approach is to start with iOS and move to Android. If you need to build an Android app, expect to consider this added time and energy in your overall cost.

Estimating Your Price

Tools like Estimate My App are available for anyone on the Internet to try and garner a ballpark estimate on their app, similar, in my opinion, to a data plan approximation on a cell phone company website. I played around with Estimate My App, in search of a cost for a light, basic, simple app, perhaps with a pre-purchased template and a few pages max. I added user invitation emails, email and password signup, and a Facebook sign up in there for good measure.

To continue, I added user profiles, ratings/reviews, and dashboard capabilities. I nixed any location-based tools, added on social sharing, but didn’t bother with any ecommerce add-ons. Finally, after adding crash reporting, usage analytics, the ability to connect to third-party apps, and SSL security (all pretty important features in my book), it looks like it would cost me about $21,250 to create my app – and to be honest, it wasn’t too particularly snazzy! I could have added a lot more features into this app – and most apps I use have a lot more than I chose.

However, to be sure you can try it for yourself and even share a permalink with your team so they can view the quote, too. Then you can take the quote to your favorite app developer and work with the price and features you chose to determine the best plan for you.

A Mobile App is a Long Term Commitment

Don’t forget that you will have to invest in your mobile app on a long-term basis. The first version of the app is definitely not the end; there will be maintenance, updates and upgrades needed, consistently.

One of the best ways to conquer the high prices of mobile app management is to hire a company that can build and maintain your app for an affordable monthly subscription price. Benefits to this method include lower costs overall and the opportunity to work with the company who knows your app best, long-term.

Whatever type of app you choose, and which type of development team you work with, it’s always wise to estimate ahead of time, be sure of what features you need, shop around if you’re unsure of a quote, and consider long-term maintenance and upgrades. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to make the most pragmatic choice possible about how much you should realistically spend on your mobile app.

 

 

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