App development costs are something we get asked about a lot. Almost daily, in fact. With the most successful apps making millions of dollars a month, it’s not hard to see why so many people are keen to get involved.
The right app can increase revenue, gain you more customers or simply help you improve the level of customer service you provide.
But how much will an app cost to build?
First, we’ll take a look at everything that can add to (or take away) from the price. Then we’ll get to some real figures.
What does your app actually need to do?
App functionality can usually be broken down into one of four main types. (Each individual type will, of course, have a number of variations.)
Table and list based apps
These apps are designed primarily to display simple information. Users are able to select the information they require by selecting various options, and can obtain additional information on each topic should they wish.
You might see this: on an app that provides motivational quotes, or an app that lists recipes.
These are more complicated, and allow users to sort and display data from a much larger set. It’s usually a necessity for this kind of app to connect to an external database, simply because the information is too substantial to store on a mobile device. Database apps are more complex to develop than table and list-based apps as a result.
You might see this: in an app that lists train or bus timetables.
These are similar to database apps in that they connect to an online server. However, dynamic apps also need to connect to other platforms and software via an API. For instance, YouTube has to connect with the main website’s API in order to import the relevant comments, videos and viewing preferences. The complexity of dynamic apps can vary.
You might see this: in the big sellers! YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are all dynamic apps.
Games take the longest to develop. Even the simplest games are on a similar level to complicated dynamic apps. Then, once you delve into full 3D environments, you’re talking a LOT of money. (Though for some perspective, Angry Birds cost $140,000.)
You might see this: in the games store! GTA, FIFA, Pokemon Go, etc.
Which type of app do you need?
This will be largely influenced by your revenue model and the aims of your business, both of which we discussed in our guide to mobile app marketing (which you can find here.)
Most modern business apps tend to be either database or dynamic, simply because table and list based-apps won’t offer enough value. Remember, competition in the app market is substantial: you need to offer something great to stand out.
The cost of an app isn’t solely down to the complexity of the structure. There are a number of other factors that’ll influence the final figure.
As with ANY product, design can make or break your project. There’s no getting around this one: if something doesn’t look good, it won’t succeed. Yes, people are that shallow!
App design can be a complicated business, too: more so than website design in many cases. It’s not just a matter of making it look pretty: the app needs to be designed with user experience in mind. Your aim is to combine a stunning design with a functionality that’s a pleasure to use.
That kind of quality costs money and time, but it also delivers value. An app that costs $200,000 but makes you twice that is a better investment than one that costs $100,000 but only makes $50,000.
Just how much are you prepared to invest in the testing process?
Remember, nothing will sink your app faster than poor reviews. And poor reviews is what you’ll get if you don’t do enough testing! You can’t afford a slow start in the cut-throat app market.
We’ve covered this more substantially in our guide to updating your app. Put simply, your app will require updates. Even it’s built superbly, factors outside your control – such as operating system updates or database changes – will require you to make alterations over time.
Though it’s not technically part of the app build itself, you still need to include post-app maintenance in your budget
If you don’t, even the best app will develop bugs, and if those bugs aren’t updated you can say goodbye to your users. (And your reputation.)
What good is a great app if no-one even knows it exists?
Marketing an app is a complicated business, and it costs money. (No getting around that, unfortunately!)
How much? Well, it depends. But we’d suggest a bare minimum of $3,000 in terms of man-hours. Not to mention what you’ll spend on paid advertising, organic search and social media promotion.
(Not to mention building a killer website.)
Which platform you’re planning to publish on
As a general rule, iOS apps are quicker and cheaper to build. There are some exceptions, of course, but Android apps usually take 2-3 times longer to complete.
Now, choosing between the two is a matter of knowing your user base, but it’s worth noting that if speed is your concern, publishing on iOS first is probably the best option.
In a survey reported by Formotus, the average cost of a mobile app was $140,000, with the median cost $171,450.
An alternate survey reported in the same place noted an average cost of $270,000.
Before you look at those app development costs and panic, however, it’s worth remembering that apps vary in terms of complexity. A survey by Clutch found that costs could go as low as $30,000 and as high as $700,000+.
Can you provide any perspective?
In their earlier days, Gigster calculated the estimated cost of a minimum viable product for the BIG app names and how much they would have cost to develop.
The tech specs for Uber, AirB’n’B, OpenTable, TaskRabbit, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter were ALL estimated at under $50,000.
What’s more, the MVP for these apps could have been built in four months or less.
Proof, as ever, that it’s about providing quality and value rather than complexity.
Overall, it’s estimated that from start to finish, Uber would have cost under $200,000 in its first iteration. It’s now worth more than $60bn.
How do I find out how much my app will cost?
The best way to get an estimate is simply to give Iconic Solutions a call. We’re specialists in creating quality apps that get results.
However, if you just want a thirty second estimate, there are a number of app calculators online.
Remember that whilst some app development costs might seem intimidating, the upsides are HUGE when you get it right.
Pokemon Go made an estimated $600 million in the first three months.
YouTube’s income is north of ten billion
The average income for an app is ten billion.
Give Iconic Solutions a call today if you’re interested in developing an app that gets you results.