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How Much Does It Cost to Develop an App?

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How Much Does It Cost to Develop an App?

What's the true cost of an application? Find out more about some of the factors that affect this total cost and how they may vary.

· Agile Zone ·
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You have an awesome idea for a consumer app or you’re developing an enterprise mobile app for your business. Finally, research is finished and you are ready to go. You can’t wait to start. The only problem: you’re really not sure how much does it cost to develop an app and how long does it take to launch?

There is a perception that any app can be built within a week and cost as low as $5,000. The news stories claiming the overnight hit is a result of a weekend just isn’t true. There is also a belief that since mobile devices are smaller than desktop computers, it must cost less to develop a mobile app than a web or cloud app (yes, we’ve heard that argument!). None of this is reality. In fact, there is a lot more that goes into developing a standout mobile app.

"Good apps are not built over a weekend. It takes weeks of planning, designing, and programming to develop successful apps."

What’s Involved in Developing an App?

There are 4 stages of developing a successful app:

  • Strategy
  • App Development
  • Marketing
  • Support & Maintenance

Strategy

The mobile strategy covers everything from conceptualizing app’s idea to the steps you will take in developing a successful app. Building a mobile app without a strategy is like building a house without a blueprint. Learn more about how to develop a successful enterprise mobility strategy.

App Development

With your mobile strategy in place, you are ready to start your mobile app development. However, app development isn’t limited to just writing code. Successful apps have great design, are built to scale, perform well, and are secure. Learn more about app development process. Marketing is mandatory, especially for app startups or app-preneurs. It’s the way — end users learn about your app. Utilize as many sources of awareness as possible including media outreach, promotional activities, paid campaigns, and PR announcements.

Support and Maintenance

Mobile app development is an ongoing process; for example, customer feedback, market demands, and technology advancement will require maintaining your mobile app. This ensures your app stays current and in-demand.

How Much Does It Cost to Develop an App?

The cost of developing an app depends on the scope of work. Understanding what it takes to develop an app helps explain this dependency. In particular, a typical mobile app development process includes 5 key steps:

  • Define: Analyze and document detailed functional requirements and use cases for all of the app’s features.

  • Design: Create UI / UX designs and click-through prototypes of your app in iteration

  • Development: Build the back-end, APIs, and mobile app front-end

  • Debug: Perform thorough QA testing

  • Deployment: Launch the app in app stores and set up back-end server and database

A typical app is made of 3 components,

  • Back-end/server technology
  • API (communication layer between mobile app front-end and the back-end server/database)
  • Mobile app front-end

A typical app development team requires different skills:

  • Business Analyst
  • UI / UX Designer
  • Back-end developer
  • Mobile developer (if you are building an app for iOS and Android then developer for each mobile platform)
  • App tester
  • Project / Product Manager

Assembling the A-Team

When assembling a mobile app development team you are really investing in expertise, experience, and specialization. This includes user experience design skills, advanced development skills, program management skills, and industry knowledge. Designers are the visualizer. In other words, they take your concept and put together storyboards, graphics, and other visuals. These materials help in defining the functional and technical requirements and the look and feel of the app.

The core development team includes both app developers and testers. Since each development function (back-end programming, iOS app development, Android app development) is a unique discipline, the team requires an app developer from each discipline. Developers create apps based on its feature requirements, and testers ensure the app passes specific test cases for user experience, app functions, performance, and security needs.

Project managers develop the project specs, manage work assignments, establish and manage timelines, and keep the project on schedule.

On the whole, there is a lot that goes into building an app from the initial planning through a successful execution. This explains why successful apps require time and resources.

So How Much Does an App Really Cost?

An easier way of figuring out how much a real-world app costs to develop is to research examples of other similar apps. Find comparable apps. For example, the initial version of the Uber app was built with a budget of $200,000. That followed with an additional $1.25 million of funding for further investment in technology, promotion, and application support. You can justify this investment when you closely look at what is involved in making an app like Uber.

Based on our years of experience in developing mobile apps, average app development costs range from $150,000 - $200,000, and takes 6-9 months to develop. This includes everything from starting with a comprehensive project assessment through launch in the app store. Apps with advanced functions cost substantially more and have lengthier delivery timeframes. For example, it took almost one year and over $400,000 to develop the SudokuPDQ app. This app includes a complex gaming engine on the backend, mobile apps for iPad and Android tablets, and a web portal for app analytics. The voting app for America’s Got Talent was built in 4 months and with a budget of $100,000. This app included a web admin portal for managing shows and performances, and multiple app versions for the iPhone, and Android devices.

Development Time Breakdown

So why does app development cost this much? It’s because of the amount of time and effort it takes to build an app. An average app takes a total of 1200 – 1500 hours. This includes building the app to spec and iterating through each phase in the app development process. Here's a sample breakdown:

  • Business Analysis & Documentation: 80 hours
  • UI / UX Design: 120 - 160 hours
  • Back-end Architecture & Development: 200 – 240 hours
  • API Design & Development: 100 - 120 hours
  • iOS or Android App Development: 400 – 480 hours
  • App Testing: 240 hours
  • Project Management: 120 hours
  • Deployment: 24 hours

Now, armed with a better understanding of the intricacies of creating a successful app, the development cost should not seem outrageous. Additionally, running your app idea through our app cost calculator will help you estimate your app development budget.

Conclusion

There’s a lot that goes into developing a successful mobile app. Consequently, the development cost will be a big part of your investment. Starting any development requires a well-thought-out mobility strategy, an expert app development team, and a realistic estimate of the app’s development time & cost.

"App development cost is not an expense, it’s an investment."

So, are app development costs too high? Not really. App development cost is not an expense, it’s an investment. Your primary reason for building an app is to solve a problem or developing new business. The reward is a significant return on your investment (ROI). Keep in mind, after an initial investment of $1.45M Uber reached a valuation of $66B.

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Topics:
cost analysis ,development process ,agile ,application development ,mobile ,web app

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