How Much Does it Cost to Make an App?

Abhinav Girdhar
By Abhinav Girdhar | Last Updated on January 10th, 2022 8:44 am

Apps, apps, and apps. These days wherever you see, you will find almost everyone engaged on their smartphones using any sort of app. No doubt, apps have emerged as the next frontier of talent promotion, still only business personnel or self-employed professionals are hugely investing in making an app for their organizations or for showcasing their skills to the world. To create the best app for their needs, they not only take a deep dip to understand the functionality of the app, but also look beyond to have a clear insight about app development cost. However, there are a few who create apps just for earning money, while others simply access apps for performing various tasks, such as communication, entertainment, food, sports, music, etc.

Before we delve in to know the app development cost, let’s take a look and discuss why you exactly need a mobile app for your skills or business needs.

Importance of Mobile Apps

Today, almost every brand is boasting about their latest mobile apps. Not just brands, even celebrities and common people are also jumping into app bandwagon to promote themselves or for earning money through mobile apps.

You may have heard about various benefits of mobile apps, including business promotion and earning money. In case you didn’t, let’s take a quick look on different benefits of mobile apps:

  • It allows you to keep your business in hearts and pockets of customers, thus enabling you to stay in touch with them anytime, from anywhere
  • A mobile app allows you to connect and engage with your audience, helping you develop long lasting relationship with customers and solve their queries on the fly
  • An app helps you increase brand recognition, while gaining trust and loyalty of potential customers
  • With an app, you can easily provide amazing discounts to customers for your products and services, thus gaining interest of new customers and retaining existing customers
  • Undoubtedly, a mobile app proves out to be another marketing tool for your business promotion, helping you generate more business as well as revenue

With so much being said, you might have got a clear idea why you need a mobile app for your business or any other talent. Now, let’s take a deep look on different factors that affect app development cost.

Why Does App Development Cost So Much?

Once you have the concept or your app idea in front of you, you still have a long, long way ahead of you. You need to understand that it will not be one guy with a laptop, but an entire team of developers who would work to build your app.

There are multiple processes and tasks that go into the whole project. Most of these processes and activities are behind the scenes (much like a film or a play).

The project can cost you about $149,000, if you want it to be any good that is. Yup! It is expensive, but I promise to break it down into smaller costs that will help you understand the extravagant price tag.

Let’s take a look at the key players in an app development project.

  • Developers – any app development project would need at least two developers working full time on it. This means 40 hours a week for at least 2 weeks making it 80 person-hours.
  • Designer(s) – depending on the complexity and the nature of the app, a designer or art director would be working on the visual aspects of the app. It may take about 20 hours of design work at least.
  • Account Manager(s) – the account managers have various responsibilities including working with clients, product managers and the producers.
  • Product Manager(s) – the product managers are responsible for the overall direction and vision of an app.
    They also coordinate with the account manager and can collectively take up to 20 more hours. This means that even the most basic mobile app would need 120 hours of work. Now, if you want your app idea to be able to make any kind of impact in the market, you will naturally have to at least double these hours. In addition to this, the cost of resources and facilities tend to vary, company to company.

Factors Affecting App Development Costs

Mobile apps are used for a variety of purposes, which makes them different from one another. Today, you can find millions of apps on app stores in various sizes, and functionalities, but when it comes to developing an app for your needs, each and every aspect, from size to content, is considered to calculate the actual cost of app development.

Here are discussed the primary factors that directly influence the app development cost:

  1. Business Model
  2. Platform
  3. Functionality
  4. Design
  5. Developer

Let’s take a closer look on each of the factors listed above.

  1. Business Model
  2. If you are into any business, or simply want an app for your specific talent, first of all you need to sort out your requirements. Before even giving a try, you must ask yourself a few questions:

    • Where is your targeted audience spending their time?
    • What device and platform your customers are using?
    • Will your app be listed for free or as a paid app?
    • How you will monetize the app?
    • How many features do your require in the app?
    • Do you want to connect your website with the app?
    • Will you earn money via in-app purchases?
    • Will your app be used for promoting your products and services?
    • Does your customers care about cutting-edge design or simple functionality?
    • Are you creating app, based on access to information or a unique experience?
    • Will your app be used for 3rd party ads?

    Once you have answers for all of the above questions, and you are positive about creating an app, you must invest time in finalizing platform access, functionality, design, and development. All of these factors (and countless others) are quite crucial for determining the app development cost, so you need to move ahead only when you have sorted out these factors. Besides above questions, you need to think about code security as cyber culprits can modify your code if it is not hashed. App code integrity is essential and to secure it, code signing certificate is an ideal way. Code security ensures end user that their software or app is safe to download.

    For instance, it’s easy to create and make money through an app simply by selling it for a fixed price. On other hand, making money through in-app purchases is a time taking process, which may be expensive and take a little longer time to develop. And, if you want a full-fledged ecommerce app, you might need to break your bank to achieve your set goals.

    So, before going ahead, make a list of your requirements as it will be the deciding factor behind the expense involved in developing your app.

  3. Platform: Android or Apple
  4. Once you have determined why you need an app, based on your business model and customer behavior, the next factor that you need to consider for calculating the app development cost is the platform for its creation.

    You can get an app created for multiple platforms, including Android, iOS (iPhone/iPad), Windows, BlackBerry, Amazon Kindle, etc., but the app development cost solely depends on your platform choice. So, giving a thought when deciding the platform for your app can also help you reduce the app development cost to an extent.

    Despite being so many platforms, Apple and Android are two primary platforms that are highly regarded by most of the businesses across the globe due to presence of majority of population on these platforms.

    Initially, developing iOS apps was quicker and cheaper, therefore majority of businesses worldwide were opting to launch iOS-only apps, while giving a second thought to its Android version later on, once iOS version is successful. But, in a few years, as Android market experienced a significant growth in user base, this platform got a few advancements, making it easy for developers to create an Android app without any complexity. As a result, today many developers no longer feel any difference between the two prominent platforms – Android vs iOS. It’s the result of wide popularity of Android devices that today it has wider penetration and reach in emerging markets, as compared to Apple.

    At this point, your platform choice will solely be dependent on the intended audience of your app. Going with all of the platforms can be a risky affair that might force you to break your bank to get your task done efficiently. So, it’s advisable for you to get clear insights of your user behavior before finalizing the specific platform for your app.

  5. App Functionality
  6. By now, you might have analyzed your user behavior and decided the platform for your app. It’s time to dive into building the app. One of the critical and biggest factors that directly affect your app development cost is app type and its technical specifications.

    With the proliferation of app industry, mobile apps have started becoming dynamic by the day. Looking to this hype, there is obviously no limit to what can be produced. So, to help you better understand app types, we have classified them into four different categories – List Based, Database Based, Dynamic Apps, and Gaming Apps.

    Let’s take a close look at each app type:

    • List Based
    • The list or table based apps are basically created to showcase a relatively simple collection of information. In simple words, such apps generally provide relevant information to users who in turn can select the option and gain additional materials on their preferred topic. Moreover, these apps function similar to a simple, mobile-optimized website.

    • Database Based
    • Complex than list based apps, database based apps allow users to easily find, sort, and display data from massive records, without any hassle. These apps are connected with websites or other online web services, in order to retrieve information, making them far more complex in terms of development and functionality.

    • Dynamic Apps
    • Similar to database based apps, dynamic apps differ in terms of functionality as instead of simply connecting to an online server for information, these apps are coupled with other platforms or software through APIs. For instance, if you are creating a third party Twitter app, you need to integrate Twitter’s official API into it to import tweets and other data from your Twitter account. Since these APIs vary in quality and complexity, so it is sure to add up to your app development cost, which may range from a relatively small cost increase to an immensely costly undertaking.

    • Gaming Apps
    • Last, but not the least, gaming apps are one of the challenging apps to develop. Simple games, too an extent, can cost similar to dynamic apps, but with increase in functionality, like 3D environments or advanced physics engines, these apps will surely cost heavy on your pockets, as compared to other app types.

    Although, above discussed app types incorporate most of the apps present on the market, but with advancement in technology, apps these days are tremendously varying like never before, making it hard to categorize them differently.

    But, the most important thing that you need to keep in mind before going ahead with app development is that the cost of developing an app varies with its functionality requirements. Sometimes a simple functionality app is expensive to build, while other functionalities that look complex might be surprisingly affordable. So, whatever your functionality requirements are, you need to research and solicit quotes from different companies or developers in order to find a rough estimate of app development.

  7. Design
  8. Similar to app type, design is also one of the foremost factors, when it comes to evaluating app development cost.

    If you are running a business and already have your own website, you very well know how design plays an important role in attracting customers. Same is the case with mobile apps. You need to stand out from the crowd if you are planning to extend your horizons, and looking to achieve more business from across the globe.

    Yes, you got it right! Creating an app with a breathtaking design is sure to attract new customers for your products and services, while forcing them to use your app more and more. To stand out of the competition, you need to create an app with eye catching icons, impressive splash screen, and other elements like tabs, buttons and many others, which enhances user engagement, while helping you enlarge your customer base like never before.

    But, an amazing design generally comes at a great cost. No, we are not joking. You might see a huge difference in the price spectrum of different app development companies, but truthfully, this difference is not just limited to prices, it also encompasses the quality of service offerings. So, if you are looking to get an app created with an impressive and compelling design, be prepared to shell out some serious cash for hiring the best app designing company or freelancer having years of experience with eye-catching portfolio.

    However, finalizing the ideal design for your app is still dependent on your target audience. If your audience is design sensitive, it’s better to lower your interest in functionality department and utilize that money in enhancing the look and feel of your app. In case, if your audience is far away from UX, still you need to ensure that your app design is up to the market standards, but you don’t need to shell out some serious cash for impressive design.

  9. Developer
  10. So far, we have discussed all about objective costs involved in creating an app, such as functionality, design, your business model or skill, and your target audience. Now, let’s take a close look at final factor, or you can say subjective factor, affecting your app development cost – selecting the right developer.

    You are ready with everything you need to get an app developed. It’s time to select a reliable developer for creating your app. Presently you have two ways – either you can hire an app development company or you can go with a freelancer who have necessary skills and knowledge about different app development frameworks and APIs. Your developer decision will be the final step for evaluating the actual development cost of your app. However, before going ahead with the app developer, you need to do a thorough market research, or else you might end up wasting your hard earned money.

    The developers are basically classified in three different categories:

    • Freelancer
    • Small App Development Agency
    • Big App Development Agency

    Let’s dive in and take a closer look at each developer:

    • Freelancer
    • One of the cheapest options you can find for developing your app are freelance developers. It’s their affordability that will force you to go with freelance developers. But, you need to give a thought beforehand if you are going freelancer route, as you are ultimately hiring a person, who come with their own set of risks, when compared to agencies.

      For instance, if your hired freelancer doesn’t have prominent skills working on different app development frameworks, you need to struggle a lot and shell out some extra cash and time for getting your desired app developed, the way you want. What if, your selected freelance developer is slow, late, or uncommitted, you might experience doomsday even before your app project is completed.

      Since you are investing on a person, so you must be aware that a freelancer might have limited expertise about different processes involved in app development. It’s quite rare you find a perfect freelancer who can successfully develop any sort of app, ranging from simple single layout apps to complex augmented and virtual reality apps.

      Whether you have finalized to hire a freelancer or not, one thing is clear, if you follow freelancer route, you will most likely require to employ more than one freelancer in order to get your app developed the right way as per your needs and within your allocated time.

      No doubt, the market is full of fantastic freelance app developers who can develop amazing apps at relatively low cost, but if you can’t manage to find a few great ones, you are sure to end up with exactly no app, and ultimately no money.

    • Small App Development Agency
    • Going with small app development agency means you are hiring a small team of 10-15 creative developers who have precise set of skills and knowledge creating specific types of apps. Almost every member in the organization is there for a specific task involved in app development process.

      Today, you can easily find thousands of small app development agencies in the market, still a thorough research needs to be done beforehand if you want best results at the end. Hiring a reliable small app development company will, no doubt, be an expensive deal, compared to freelance developers, but the final outcome is sure to spellbind you. If you are able to find the right small agency for your app development needs, you will obvious be benefitted with their expertise and past experience. A small app development agency comprising of top talents and like-minded people means a greater degree of quality assurance, consistency, and for sure timely delivery.

      One of the downsides of small app development companies is that they often lack in knowledge and skills required for developing complex apps. Despite this single disadvantage, these small companies are far better than freelance developers, who even face issues developing simple layout apps. These companies are a better option for startups as well as small and medium sized businesses who are planning to launch their mobile app at a relatively low cost.

    • Big App Development Agency
    • Now, let’s shed some light on reputed and big players of app industry.

      Hiring a big app development agency for developing your app means you are investing in a brand having large teams, who possess decades of experience and efficient knowledge creating a variety of apps, ranging from complex gaming apps to simple chat apps. With a big app development agency comes 100% quality assurance, a higher level of professionalism, and top resources, who focus on creating masterpieces that goes well beyond your expectations.

      For instance, if you want a complex app, featuring augmented and virtual reality or food court, nobody can handle such requirements other than big market players. The larger the agency, the more chances they will have expertise for any problem that might come up later in any app development phases.

      Though, selecting a big app development company can prove to be a best bet of your lifetime, still there is no such thing as a guarantee. There may be chances when even a multi-million dollar app development company can fail to fulfill its clients’ requirements. Generally, you are investing in a brand, but often agencies usually focus in maintaining the reputation of their brand, while upscaling their business growth.

      The app development cost will directly depend on the type of developer that you choose for your app development, so you need to sort out your preferences first while finalizing the app developer.

So How Much Does it Exactly Cost to Make an App?

At this point, you clearly know that creating an app is not a rocket science and does not require you to break your bank. If you focus on the above discussed factors affecting app development cost, the final outcome is sure to amaze you.

What’s more surprising is that developing an app doesn’t have any defined charge. Now, you may be wondering if there is no defined charge, so how much does it cost to make an app for iOS or Android mobile platforms?

One of the best ways to investigate about the actual cost of developing an app is by checking some of the widely popular apps available on different app stores. As per the best stats available, big market players invest a staggering $500,000 to $1,000,000 for developing their app, whereas on other side, small retail and fashion houses get their app built for $50,000 to $100,000. These stats don’t give a clear idea about the right cost involved in making an app, but an intelligent way that has been in trend nowadays is:

App Development Cost = Development Time X Hourly Rate

Using above formula, you can get an approximate estimate about app development. However, certain other factors discussed below can also help you identify the right cost involved in creating an app.

  • Priorities Matter
  • Yes, the app development cost directly depends on your priorities, which includes quality, cost, and speed. So you need to sort out your priorities, before going ahead to get your app developed. Generally, it is advisable for individuals to choose two out of the above mentioned three qualities for your app, rather than being greedy and running after all three.

  • Development Cost at Various Phases
  • On one side, there are big market players who invest a huge sum of money for creating their app, while on other side, there are many businesses whose apps cost around $150,000 to $450,000. So, when it comes to calculating the exact value of app development, considering development cost at various phases can also give you a rough idea about the cost of your app.

    Apart from above discussed factors, there is also a median cost per hour of developing apps in different regions. According to best possible data available, the app development cost is maximum in North America and least in Indonesia, while the Indian subcontinent comes second last in the list, with a rate just below $50 per hour. Other developed countries, like Australia and Singapore also rank high on the list, where app development cost is somewhere around $60 to $100 on hourly basis.
    Development Cost at Various Phases - Appy Pie
    So far, we have discussed how to calculate app development cost involved at various development phases and your priorities. But, this is not all. As developing, funding or upgrading any trending technological product is a challenging task, same is the case with app development cost. First, an agreement is signed between the app owner, and app development firm. In the next stage, the cost is determined based on app owner requirements and the framework type. Thereafter, a final estimate is provided to the app owner, including the cost involved in different development phases.

    By considering above factors, you can easily calculate an approximate cost required for developing your app. But, the twist lies in choosing a reliable and cost-effective app development company, which is one of the most challenging tasks for many budding app owners in the market.

    Today, there are thousands of app development companies and millions of app developers present in the industry that can help you bring your app ideas to life. But, finalizing a trustworthy app development company or app developer will also include their charges, when it comes to finding the final cost for app development.

    Though, it can prove to be a challenging task to calculate the exact cost involved in app development beforehand, but considering the above listed factors, to an extent, can help you save money during different phases of app development. However, before approaching an app development company or app developer, one logically crystal clear concept that you need to keep in mind is that simple apps comprising basic functionalities are much cheaper to develop, as compared to complex apps that include high-end features, such as video streaming, real-time synchronization, offline data caching, augmented and virtual reality, and many others.

How to reduce cost of mobile app development?

After so much discussion, an important question that might pop up in your mind is how to reduce app development cost. The answer to this million dollar question is App Builder.

An app builder like Appy Pie AppMakr makes your life easier and reduces app development cost by providing you with a wide range of features, design templates, and other ready-to-add app designing options. You simply need to add your required features to build an app. No need to worry about the quality, as the platform has already been tested, tried and proven effective. So, simply go online, check out Appy Pie AppMakr, and create your own app in minutes.
Create an app in minutes!

Abhinav Girdhar

Founder and CEO of Appy Pie

App Builder

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