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How Much Does It Cost to Make an App [Saving Your Budget]

General | 18 min read • 08 May 2020
How Much Does It Cost to Make an App [Saving Your Budget]

Today when people are used to using mobile a few hours a day at least, a lot of businesses need to build their own applications and retain customers. But how much does it cost to make an app? It’s safe to say that even the simplest apps aren’t likely to cost less than $15,000, while the more expensive ones might be in the area of $240,000 or more while the average price is somewhere around $150, 000. However, that’s not an easy question to answer, as the cost can vary dramatically according to the solution complexity.

The minimum that you’d have to budget to either build an app yourself or to hire a dev team to do it would be $15,000 to get the beta version up and running. As you are looking for a full-scale mobile solution the expenses can start from $50,000 for a very simple solution and above.

Here are a few surveys conducted on this question that might help you:

  • If you are wondering how much it costs to develop an app, there was a VDC survey that was taken of enterprise app developers. They reported that the average cost of a mobile app on which they had worked was $140,000.
  • Clutch survey asked the app development companies and found out that a median price of $171,450 per app could be expected. 
  • A recent EMM survey revealed that over 75% of enterprises budgeted at least $250,000 for mobility solutions. Over 25% of them budgeted more than $1.5 million.
  • The Survey of CIOs by Kinvey defined that the average price of an app was $270,000.

kiney survey on app cost

  • Thinkmobiles mobile app cost calculator shows that the average budget for mobile development might be anywhere from $200,000 to $350,000.
  • The Goodfirms research states that a user-friendly app like Periscope or Tinder might cost between $40,000 and $60,000 to design, while a more intricate one, like Uber or Instagram, might be between $70,000 and $100,000.

As you can see, those are some pretty big discrepancies. You need to think about what the platform is intended for and the complexity and number of features. QA will be a factor, as well as expenses having to do with marketing, design uniqueness, and location and rates of the IT vendor. 

Now, let’s get into a more detailed explanation of the costs of creating an application.

 

Factors that Determine App Cost Development

While there is no precise answer to the question “how much does it cost to start an app,” there is a shortlist of features that are going to have the most significant impact. They are:

  • One app development cost would have to do with the complexity and number of features.
  • Is the design basic or custom, and are you using animations?
  • The number of platforms with which it must be compatible, including iOS, Android, etc. 
  • As you’re thinking about how to build an app, you would have to look at the location of the vendor.
  • The type of project it will be, as in healthcare, eCommerce, on-demand delivery, social platform, etc. 

 

Project Industry and Type

The cost to develop an app is going to vary depending on the industry in which it will be used. Social platforms are usually relatively easy to design because they are somewhat formulaic. 

For example, if you’re looking to build a mHealth app or complex medical platform, it requires quite a significant backend and design development to work properly. According to the Resear2Guidance study it costs $425,000, on average, to launch a mobile platform for healthcare while the cost for development reaches around $200, 000 in case of outsourcing the project.

From the other side, an on-demand delivery app seems like a relative bargain by comparison. They might cost you anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000.

 

Software Development Team Hiring Cost 

The location also counts for a great deal as you look at how much an app costs. The more popular destinations for locating and employing dev teams include the USA, Eastern Europe, Asia, and various parts of Latin America.  
If you’re interested in hiring the only engineer you can check our guides on iOS developer salary and Android developer salary guides.
However, if you have just an idea in mind, you need to think about hiring the entire software development team. Here is a list of team roles you need for making an app and an average rate per hour in different regions according to Payscale:

software development team hiring cost

As you can see, app price in Asian countries such as Pakistan or India is typically going to cost you less than $25 per hour. The highest rates will be for vendors in the US, where you might expect to pay devs between $70 and $100 per hour. South America’s rates usually fall somewhere right in the middle. Western and Eastern European rates are often less than those in the US, but more than you’d expect to pay for Asian devs.  

If you’re attempting to strike a balance between price and high-quality dev skills, you might look toward Eastern Europe and Ukraine in particular. App development there might cost you a reasonable $40 per hour. If you are asking how much it costs to launch an app, you can keep those prices lower if you choose to outsource the project to Ukraine

 

Android or iOS Native App

You should consider whether it makes more sense to develop your platform for Android, iOS, or both. Remember that the platform you choose will influence how much the app costs. When trying to make up your mind, it’s going to be all about the customers you’d like to reach with your mobile solution. Are they likely to be Apple device users, or will they opt for Android?

Here is a map with the iOS and Android users distribution by countries. So, check your target market first and then decide what platform to choose.

mobile platforms users distribution

Source: Deviceatlas

But, of course, the best case would be to decide to make a mobile platform for both. You should also keep in mind that native apps, or applications that were designed to run specifically on Android or iOS, tend to work better than the cross-platform ones. Native apps might cost you a bit more, but their higher overall performance capability makes them desirable.

 

How Much Does It Cost to Build an App: Cost Breakdown

The process of developing an app consists of different steps and you should keep in mind the cost for each one. Let’s go in-depth with some details on each part of the expenditures.

Business Analysis

Business analysis is a critical stage, and you’re fooling yourself if you think otherwise. Part of what’s going to happen at this stage is that you validate your app idea, and determine the detailed documentation on your platform development. 

This is some of what will be taking place during this stage, as conducted by a business analyst:

  • They’ll identify a problem or “pain point”
  • They will identify and define the project’s value
  • Next, they will define, understand, and verify the business scope
  • They’ll do analysis, including mind mapping and competitor analysis
  • They will produce a business solution
  • Workshopping will be next, which will consist of requirement elicitation and management, development of documentation, testing, and support
  • They will produce the best possible solution based on market needs
  • Finally, they will work on enhancements, such as changes in management and support, should they be necessary.

All of this will be required if you want your project to be successful. Let’s say that you’ve decided to do this part of the app in Ukraine, at $40 per hour. The business analysis stage might cost you anywhere from $2,500 to $12,000, depending on the app's complexity and requirements.

 

App Design Cost

How much does app design cost? Well, let’s say that you were to divide the mobile design into three categories, those being simple ones, somewhat complicated, and highly complex. At design costs with an hourly rate of $40-$50 per hour, you might expect to pay $5,000 to $10,000 for the simple app. The somewhat complicated solution may cost you from $10,000 to $20,000. If you’re going for the complex platform, like designing a shopping app, that should run you upwards of $20,000.  

The design complexity and time-consuming of its development are going to be considered factors when you look at what you can expect to pay. For highly functional platforms, the cost is going to go up at a nearly exponential rate.

The answer to the question of how much money does it cost to make an app will be a lot less if your app is simple. A simple app will consist of platform-specific, standard elements. They will be easy to implement for an experienced dev team, and the whole process should not take too much time. Any time that you start talking about animations and customized elements is when the cost will be driven up.

 

App Features Costs

The average cost to develop an application will vary according to the features, but that hardly matters if your budget is very limited. If you do not have that much money for your app, then you’re going to need to prioritize the vital features. However, there are some features that you simply need to have, or else the app is not going to function correctly.

 

For the following, let’s assume the cost of creating an app of $40 per hour, as would be the case if you’ re hiring a development team from Ukraine.

  • Registration and Login

Mobile app development costs for this aspect should not be too high. This is the part of the app where users can register and log in with an email. There also needs to be “forgot password” and “logout” features. The time to create this might be 20-25 hours, at the cost of $800-$1,000.

  • Payments

The cost of app development for payments will be higher but with this, the users are able to pay for services and products within the app. They should be able to use or scan credit cards or use a payment gateway. This part might take as many as 50-65 dev hours. You would be looking at the cost of $2,000-$2,600.

  • In-App Purchases

This feature allows users to can make basic in-app purchases. It would probably take 20-30 hours to design, at the cost of $800-$1,200.

  • User Profile

Users appreciate it when they can easily create a user profile for themselves and have a history on it with for example their purchases or whatever else. There should be text fields for personal information, as well as gender, birthday, a photo, etc. It might take up to 15-20 creation hours, at the cost of $600-$800.

  • File Uploading

A lot of mobile solutions like messaging platforms need uploading capabilities The user must be able to upload photos and videos, and there should be video playback and photo view capabilities. That might take 20-30 dev hours, at the cost of $1,000-$1,500

  • Messaging & Chat

Most apps will require a basic chat feature. That might involve a list of chats, a way to send text messages or images, a list of messages with time and user avatars, and push notifications for new discussions and messages. That might take as long as 60-80 dev hours, and you’d be looking at a price tag of $2,500-$3,200. If you need more complex messenger with the ability to send media files and documents will be part of that. Users must be able to read sent messages. They will need to see conversation details and online/offline status. That will take approximately 160-170 hours to develop, and it will cost $8,000-$8,500.

If you’re looking for a video chat app development you, it can take up to 80 hours more. You just can reduce it with ready-made video API integration if you have already the messenger platform.

  • Search

A search feature is a must-have for apps. There should be a basic search function and one with suggestions. That will require somewhere in the area of 13-18 dev hours, at the cost of $650-$900. And it can be more if you need to have a search with some custom suggestions.

 search-suggest-custom

  • Report Abuse

Users will appreciate a report abuse feature. It should include a list of possible reasons for reporting misconduct, and each subsequent entry will increase the estimate. The hours might be in the range of 10-12, at the cost of $400-$500.

  • Push Notifications

Push notifications also come in handy in apps. Specific push notification implementation will increase the estimate. This will take about 12-15 hours of dev time and cost between $500-$600.

 

Advanced Features

There are many advanced features that you may feel your app needs. Let’s go over some of them next.

  • Backend Infrastructure and App Administration

With mobile app development, the backend is typically an OS that gives developers with APIs or SDKs that provide the ability of data exchange between a database and app. The development cost will vary significantly, depending on the number of additional features and the amount of transferred data between users’ devices and servers. 

  • Data Encryption

This is a feature that can be used to secure messaging and end-to-end encryption. In such a scenario, only the receiver has the needed decoding protocol. This is one of the must-have mhealth app features, as well as for finance, banking, shopping mobile platforms Adding this will likely take between 16-24 hours of dev time. The cost should be between $650 and $1,000.

  • Administration Panel

The admin panel is a highly useful app tool for managing stats, users, and content. This area will include admin authorization, management, and user management. The first will be so admins can register, log out, and log in. The second is so admins can manage other admins. The third one is so admins can control user applications. Adding them will take 8-12 hours, 6-10 hours, and 20-37 hours, respectively. You would be looking at costs of $350-$500, $250-$400, and $800-$1,500.

  • CMS

Admin authorization and user management feature allow creating an admin panel within you can manage app users accounts like filtering, sorting for your purposes. And it takes up to approx. 60 hours and around $ 2500. That feature is useful when building real estate applications, where admin can create filtered users’ segments who like or save one or another property and send personalized offers for them. And this is only one example of using it.

  • Connectivity with Device Hardware

This might include connectivity with entities like heart rate sensors, accelerometers, barometers, Bluetooth, etc. This does not require backend development, but you’ll still be looking at 16-24 hours of dev time for each addition. That will be something like $650-$1,000 for each component.

  • Geolocation

This is where you would add geolocation with Google Maps. It will likely take 32-48 hours. The cost will be $1,500-$2,000.

  • Map

This more general feature will also require integration with Google Maps SDK. It will take 32-40 hours to set up, on average. The cost will be $1,300-$1,600.

  • Offline Mode

Offline mode is useful for apps as well. No backend development will be required, but the app should still be able to collect data when it’s in this state. The hours required might be up to 80. The cost will be around $3,500.

  • Streaming

Setting up streaming services can be beneficial for a lot of video streaming apps like for entertainment, learning, automotive, healthcare, and other industries. This is a complex process and can take 56-72 hours of dev time. The cost is $2,300-$3,000.

  • Calls In-app

This is an addition whereby the user can make audio or video calls. They should also be able to see a list of contacts. This can take 257-365 hours. The cost will be from $12,850-$18,250.

  • AR/VR Integration

AR/VR based apps are becoming quite popular today not only for entertainment and gams but for healthcare, automotive, real estate, education industries. AR/VR SDKs and APIs integration depends significantly on what functionalities you need, API documentation, and implementation complexity. Generally, it might take from 20+ hours per one API or SDK and start from $800 at a minimal cost.

  • Analytics

This will be used to assess consumer app performance and track user activity. Depending on the number of analytics you plan on track, and how specific and detailed that monitoring will be, the cost and hours will vary. Simple integration with analytics (One Analytics tool, Flurry, Firebase, MixPanel, Basic SDK takes around 2 - 5+ hours that is for each tool $100 - $20.

 

Other App-Building Expenses

  • Project Management

This is a very time-consuming activity, and it must be included in the app cost. If you’re paying $40/hour for it, the average cost might start at about $7,000, and it could be up to as high as $32,000, depending on the scope and timeline of the project.

  • Quality Assurance

It is nearly impossible to create an app with no bugs. QA services are going to be required, and that can cost anywhere from $5,000 to as much as $25,000. It might be even more in some cases, assuming the Ukrainian rate of $40/hour. If you want your app to perform well, this aspect of the project is essential.

  • Cost of App Launch

The cost of launching the app on either Google Play that requires a $25 registration fee or the App Store that costs $99 each year but that must also be factored in. This part of the project shouldn't be too costly. Again, it will depend on the size and complexity of the application.

 

Real Examples of How Much It Costs to Build an Application

Every day, app development companies field calls from potential clients. The client will ask questions like, “tell me the cost to create an app like Facebook,” or “how much does it cost to develop an app like Uber?”  

These might seem like simple questions to answer, but based on what you’ve seen regarding how app costs can vary, that isn’t so. Let’s look at some real-world examples of popular apps and try to get some idea of what it cost to create them.

  • According to ThinkMobiles research, it might cost over $135, 000  to develop such a multi-functional and cross-platforms app like Tinder. Moreover, our development team built a similar kind of app BeMyGuest, and agree with this estimation. 

how much it costs to develop app like tinder

Source: Thinkmobile

  • According to Quora, it would have cost between $350,000-$400,000 to develop the Facebook app because of a lot of highly complex features.
  • In 2009, the WhatsApp messenger app received $250,000 in seed money. It probably cost upwards of $85K to develop. If you wanted to create a similar one, you would be looking to spend $60-$85K.
  • Uber was given $200,000 in seed money during the funding round, and this money was spent to create the beta version. About $90K or more went into app creation. So building a similar app would cost you $90-$150K.
  • For Instagram, the seed funding round raked in $500K exclusively for the iPhone app. The cost to create it was about $50K for one platform. For a similar app, expect to shell out between $50-$100K if you’re going to have versions for both OS.
  • The Postmates app received $120K in seed funding. The approximate estimate to build a similar app would be $50-$80K.

 

How to Save Money When Building an App

The last question that we’re going to discuss here is how to save money when building an app. As you see the budget for mobile platform development is quite high and varies significantly and for newbie businesses and startups it might be a too big investment. Having worked with a lot of clients from different industries, we worked out the approach that helps to avoid over-spending and save your budget. So follow the next tips: 

Research the Competition

Download the apps of other companies in your niche, and look them over. See if you can identify any issues or problems that you could improve in your app. There can be multiple apps to solve essentially the same problem, as long as they have different approaches.

Select Your Platform

As mentioned previously, the cost of the app will be affected by which platform you choose. The earlier along you are in the process when you select the platform, the better it will be for your dev team.

Understand Your Problem

An app exists to solve a problem or “pain point.” If no problem is being solved, then no one is going to want to download it. As you think about the problem that you’re attempting to fix, create app features that will directly address it. Keep the app streamlined and don’t get sidetracked. 

Build Efficiently

If you can be efficient when creating the app, that will help you to keep the costs down, and it will help you budget properly. The quicker you have accurate numbers in mind, the sooner you can get the needed funds together. You don’t want to have to dramatically adjust the budget later because of surprise expenses. 

Start With Minimum Viable Product

The minimum viable product is how your app will first be released to the public. This MVP is being put out there for testing purposes. The app will be in its most streamlined, basic form. You can add more features later, once you have determined that customers are successfully interacting with this first version. You should have an idea of what the MVP will resemble, and which features are necessary versus which ones can be added later. 

 

Summarising our definitive guide on how much it cost to develop an app from scratch, hopefully, you should now understand better how it’s calculated and what impacts. You know what the steps are that you’ll have to take and that you should have an idea in mind of what your finished product will be. 

If it’s all about you, instead of using a mobile app calculator and browsing websites it’s always a better way to contact professionals. Our software development team has an overall 6 years experience in the mobile development of different complexity and for various industries. Drop us a line and we get back to you with a free quote and estimation on your project. Let’s make your vision a real tech solution. 

How Much Does It Cost to Make an App [Saving Your Budget]

 

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