All Blogs,Mobile, - September 13, 2019

The Costs of Custom Mobile App Development

Tips from Top Mobile Developers

This article discusses the most important factors in custom mobile business app development,  to help you understand the process, and get it all right in the first stage of your project.

Let’s jump right in by setting reasonable expectations to budget your apps’ development costs, because believe it or not, globally, more people own a mobile ‘phone than a toothbrush. While this might be a sign that we need more toothbrushes, it’s definitely a huge opportunity for custom mobile app development for businesses.

A lot of numbers get thrown around regarding the costs of custom mobile business app development costs, the price of building an app, and getting it to market on the Windows, Android or Apple platforms. The question of how much you should invest in building a custom mobile app provokes more questions at the initial stage. Industry surveys point to nearly nothing, over the low six-figures to over 1 million dollars.

The price for developing an app from idea-to-market correlates with functional features and demands of the client.

The ballpark figure that is accepted by the industry at large is between $100,000 and $500,000 USD, but small apps with few features can cost between $10,000 and $50,000. 

The cost of keeping your app running each year will equate to 20% of the cost of making the app. This is without factoring changes in trends, new innovative technologies, or major infrastructure issues that could impede the normal running of your app.

This is the Formula to Calculate the cost of making a custom mobile business app:

(App Features∗Time)∗HourlyRate=Cost

This simple, yet realistic formula, can be used to structure your budget: App features can be separated in different complexity levels as we will see later on in this article. Time stands for the time needed to code the features described in the app’s functional scope. The hourly rate stands for the pricing of your developer, developer team or agency.

Another way to understand and manage costs is to break down the level of complexity of the app. Factors would include features from simple, moderate to complex; the costs estimate per hour would fall in the range of $50 and $100/hour –prices vary in terms of technical expertise, experience level and geographical location of the app developers appointed to your project.

For instance, experienced iOS app developers in the US can charge on average $120 – $140/hour, whereas junior developers in Eastern Europe can charge a rate of $40 – $60/hour.

This table from Think Mobiles gives you some estimates on mobile app costs based on varying complexity levels:

Complexity Features Time, hrs Cost $50/hr Cost $100/hr
Simple No API integration, no back-end, standard UI components, simple features like email subscription, login, calendar, etc. 400 20,000 40,000
Moderate Custom UI features, payment features, API integration, headsets and tablets adaptation, back-end server 500-800 40,000 80,000
Complex Multi-language support, 3rd-party integrations, custom animations, complicated back-end, professional design, real-time features, etc. 800-1500 75,000 150,000

A good way to understand development costs is to look at examples of well-known, popular mobile apps in the world today. If we look at your favorite apps and name three prominent examples the estimated development costs of Whats-app are for instance 750-1000 hours at a realistic hourly rate of $130/hour the costs for building the app in the US are $150,000-200,000.

For Instagram, the estimate is somewhere between 800 and 1200 hours, which adds up to $100,000-150,000 app development costs. Uber is a little more complex as it requires different features for the passenger’s interface than for the drivers` interface with an estimated development time of around 950-1200 hours the total cost results in around $120,000-150,000.

You can play with various app cost calculators on the internet, or get real and sit down with an experienced developer team to find a neat estimate for your budget and future app development costs that reflect your projects aspirations realistically. If you work with an experienced developer team it will help you to look at factors like geography, the newness of the technology, complexity and application size which will factor into the final price. 

The Internet is full of articles about freeware and building your mobile app at no cost by choosing ready-made modules. These platforms are usually staffed with ads and are not to be taken seriously when it comes to custom business app development. Projecting a professional and refined image would require you to discard this strategy as an option.

Although there are few inspiring success stories of self-made app developers that turned into huge success stories. Brian Wong founded Kiip in 2010, with his colleagues Courtney Guertin and Amadeus Demarzi. Kiip, is a mobile app rewards platform that lets stores or businesses give real-world rewards for in-game achievements. And Robert Nay developed his first gaming app at the age of 14, a physics puzzle game that has had more than 16 million Downloads, to date.

Although you might have the next supernova business app idea and are on the lookout for investors to cover development costs fully, you need to set your budget first. According to the Code-Mentor your budget is determined by the scope and design of your project. The scope gathers functions, features and the main value proposition that make your app unique, while the design covers Wire Framing, user flow, and prototyping.

Another important factor is the market you choose, either Windows, iOs or Android. Custom business app development costs come with many variables as you will have come to realize at this point.

Going from idea to product, you might want to consider hiring professional assistance who understands the field of app development to make sure that misunderstandings between you and the developer, or developer team, will not become a big cost factor. 

And don`t forget good freelancers are usually fully booked at least a few weeks in advance, don`t expect immediate availability or just plan in some weeks in advance on your development timeline. Same is true for the price range of good developers or as Benjamin Franklin put it: “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten.”

So, you are all set, safe and sound, when it comes to estimating the costs of your app project…

…Ok, sorry if we overwhelmed you here with knowledge in this article, the different variables of bringing your idea to product can be complex. You might want to consider talking to us directly.

Our experienced development team and project strategists can make themselves available to discuss your project in greater detail. To learn more about what makes sense for your business, Contact Us Here.

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