Mobile App Cost to Expect

Smartphone application running is one of the most profitable business spheres on the modern mobile apps market. Last year, about 40% of people worldwide used smartphones. Phone app field revenue reached more than $460 billion. This stunning number is projected to grow up to $700 billion in the nearest future. Therefore, companies tend to invest more into mobile software development.

Mobile App Cost to Expect in 2020

Before developing your own product, you should consider mobile app cost and projected app development budget. In this post, OpenGeeksLab does not intend to provide exact prices, as every business case is individual and many different factors influence the rates. Instead, we have prepared the detailed checklist, which will give answers to all your questions concerning mobile app cost.

After examining this guide, you will be able to effectively manage your mobile app development budget, reduce costs of making an app, choose your tech wisely, and focus on smartphone app development cost drivers beforehand. Well, let’s go step by step.

Prime Mobile Platforms Statistics and Market Share

To give you a better idea of whether it makes sense to create apps, we have gathered some fascinating data relating to mobile platforms’ market state. You will uncover how many mobile apps people download every year, how they use mobile solutions, and what online services are most popular.

Today, various mobile apps have changed pretty much the way we live our lives. Through current mobile solutions, we can do amazing things in a matter of seconds: keep track of our health, do business, education, travel or leisure, and interact with the world.

Mobile apps have their moment during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Digital options played a huge role in online therapy, facilitating social distancing, and tracing contacts. Now, let’s study the market in greater detail.

1. Worldwide mobile apps revenues will triple by 2023

According to researchers, global mobile app market revenue generated $365 billion in 2018 and will triple within five years, gaining more than $935 billion in earnings.

2. Google Play and the App Store remain the two leading markets

Google Play maintains a flagging position, delivering the biggest number of available apps. Launched in 2012 with 450.000 apps, currently, Android users can choose between 2.87 million apps. The App Store ranks the second-largest market. Rolled out in 2008 with 500 apps, now it offers almost 1.96 million available apps for iOS to worldwide audiences. And the number of applications has been continually boosting.

3. Average application cost

The majority of apps are now free to download. In terms of monetization, applications may generate revenue in several different ways: advertising, paid downloads, subscription options, freemium and premium models, and some more.

As of September 2020, almost 41.000 apps were priced less than one dollar in the Google Play store. When it comes to the Apple App Store, as of August 2020, the average price of iOS apps and mobile games was 0.85 U.S. dollars.

While Google Play is the leading market in terms of apps available for download, the Apple App Store better manages to monetize mobile apps. Hence, the Apple App Store reached the impressive $19 billion mark, absolutely crushing Google with its $10.3 billion.

All these figures are growing from year to year, prompting the market for mobile apps to extend.

What Factors Determine Mobile App Cost?

Let's check the essential variables influencing application development cost.

If you are at a starting point of developing apps, it would be great to know what influences smartphone app development cost. Hence, the mobile app development budget varies greatly depending on your business model, the app’s complexity, feature set, third-party integrations, and many more. Let us give you an example: a mobile platform with its own backend server or integrated APIs makes a pricey trade as if it were standalone mobile solutions. What’s more, your application development cost may differ widely whether you partner with an app development company or choose freelance software engineers to create an app. Sounds a bit confusing, doesn’t it? But don’t worry about it. To ease your task, we have accomplished all variables for you. Right, let’s get on with it.

1. Business Model

First and foremost, the kind of business model dictates app development software cost, not the other way around. For instance, a customer service model that requires extra third-party APIs increases the app development budget significantly. Meanwhile, a simple mobile platform for internal communication demands a much fewer feature scope, usability, and UI design options than an M-Commerce app. Functionalities of Instagram-like apps vary widely from Uber clones or Netflix alternatives.

2. App Development Company Choice

A proper development team is a crucial factor while planning app development budget. Leading criteria while company choosing are average rate, proficiency level, portfolio, niche experience. These factors are usually enough to find the most suitable option for your particular business case. Additional criteria, which may also influence client’s preferences include geographical location, brand awareness, etc. A basic Android/iOS development team consists of product owner, project manager, mobile app developers, UI/UX designer, QA engineer, DevOps engineer.

Based on a business model and app’s complexity, enterprises can choose between three solutions: team up an in-house team, partner with an external app development company, or hire freelance app builders for building apps. An in-house app development company takes place onsite to cover all stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC). An external, also called offshore, a software development vendor means that you relocate the SDLC processes abroad. Freelance software engineers are mainly solopreneurs who serve services on specific freelance platforms not being tied down to a particular location.

Fortunately, today, an infinite number of software vendors can help enterprises by delivering excellent end-to-end mobile solutions. They all provide the same services, but there is a colossal difference between the quality and costs of making an app. Before deciding whom to deal with, it would be great if you could weigh the pros and cons of each option in detail. To simplify your research, we’d advise that you read our post to unlock some proven steps to find and hire the best app developers.

3. Technical Сomplexity

Apart from team choice, mobile app development prices are affected by app’s complexity as well. Hence, the more complex your application is, the more it costs. Complexity level is determined by number of features, working time needed, data amount, etc. Accordingly, if a business owner wants both Android and iOS app versions, it would cost more.

4. App Load

Application load directly determines final iOS/Android app cost, as it deals with data optimization. Complex problems require complex software architecture and higher optimization standards. To make an app performance smooth, one needs more working hours, i.e., the cost of developing an app becomes higher.

5. Server Solutions

Planning a complex app, one must consider the amount of info processed. To build an application capable of performing all feature actions smoothly, developers implement backend servers. As backend deals with several programming languages, such technology requires additional specialists and costs involved.

6. Third-Party Services

Third-party implementation proved to have a positive effect on productivity and performance. Niche-specific services aim at making the app development process easier and smoother, though there are several pitfalls to avoid, as they may slow down workflow with documentation settlements and prologue paid hours. Besides, third-party services often require fee costs for using their software.

7. Payment Gateway

In-built purchases gain popularity among Android/iOS users, therefore companies tend to implement various payment software options, like Google Pay, PayPal, Apple Pay. Satisfying customers’ demand for diverse payment options, business owners win their loyalty and increase ROI index, though while the developing process such product seems less cost-effective.

8. UI/UX Customization

An important constituent of mobile development budget is mobile app design customization. It includes unique UI/UX solutions and/or animation complexity. The more custom elements your app design contains, the higher becomes its cost. Usually design customization level is bound to application type, e.g., while developing image-oriented applications with highly customized UI/UX standards, app design cost constitutes a significant part of app development budget.

9. Additional Expenses

Besides developing proper elements, average app development software cost includes additional expenses, covering user support, backend maintenance, hosting services, updates, marketing/promotion. These elements do not influence performance, though they are vital while attracting/retaining your target audience. Post-release support is usually excluded out of primarily cost estimates as an app development company offers it as an additional service.

10. Tech Requirements

The cost of building an app also depends on the clarity of technical requirements given by a client. If the task is set in an obscure way, developers would require much more time for the planning stage, additional client-manager communication, or unsuccessful result analysis. Unfortunately, very often obscure tech requirements lead to misunderstanding and project failure, so being accurate while setting your desires is vital for future success.

11. Mobile Platform Hosting and Security

Mobile apps should be able to use, process, and store tons of data, including confidential information, and carry heavy loads in real-time. As a business runner, you need to prevent any threats and vulnerabilities. Otherwise, any data breach may cost you a fortune and business. Hence, here is when efficient hosting server providers come in handy to the security rescue.

Based on your business scale and loads, you should utilize appropriate hosting services that leverage multi-layer authentication systems to public cloud security, warranting smooth performance, and fault tolerance.

12. Mobile Apps Updates and Maintenance

To make a successful app means to create an app fitting various devices and software versions. Since your mobile platform evolves and advanced technologies arise, you should refresh the feature set and vamp up integrations. This way, to ensure smooth performance, app developers need to provide adequate technical support and maintenance, as well as regular debugging. All these updates increase expenses, even after the app launch.

Designing an iOS application, one should be sure about supporting the latest iPhone device and its predecessor to provide perfect compatibility. Android-powered devices require more attention, so developers consider not only latest software/device versions, but all operating systems starting from Android 5 (Lollipop). While designing a web-app one should remember about ensuring support of top browsers like Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

Limiting compatibility leads to target audience restrictions, so the more devices and software versions your application supports, the better.

13. Trends

It is perfectly clear that in an increasingly digitized world and development environment, mobile applications are becoming more advanced. Each software update and product version utilize novel technologies, resulting in continuous improvement. However, with all tech at hand, that does not mean you should recklessly leverage all trends.

Now that we’ve almost put all the puzzle pieces back together, let’s move on to the last missing element of mobile application development cost.

Is Mobile App Development Cost Varied Around the Globe?

Needless to say, mobile application development cost varies greatly all over the world.

Mobile application development cost is highly dependent on company location. Mobile app developers from different parts of the world set diverse rates based on the general market state. Competitive chances, working experiences, tempo of work, or other criteria may influence rates as well.

To give a general idea of application development cost, ranging from one marketplace to another, we have excluded personal factors, making geographical criteria fundamental.

1. North America

According to stats, North American (Canadian- or US-based) companies provide most expensive solutions costing from $50 to $250 per hour.

2. Australia

Organizations located in Australia offer Android/iOS app development cost at rates varying between $50-$150 per hour.

3. The UK and Other Western European Countries

Western European Android/iOS app development price offers tend to be more cost-effective than American or Canadian, and usually stand about $50-$175 per working hour.

4. Eastern Europe

Eastern European agencies seem to provide the cheapest solutions among other regions, which cost from $20 to $150 as a maximum per hour.

Sometimes rates differ considering software systems, iOS app development price being higher in India and South America, while North American region sets higher Android app development costs.

However, higher rates do not always correspond to excellent results – even low-priced companies can provide perfect products. Creating a holistic view of a particular development team includes profound portfolio study, accurate planning, communication, as far as there is no universal rule. Peculiar cases require particular solutions, so it is up to the business owner to find a cost-effective budget option for his or her own undertaking.

How the App’s Complexity Influences Mobile Application Development Cost?

Let’s disclose how the app development budget varies depending on the basic, medium, and high levels.

Obviously, the higher the application’s complexity, the more it costs. We can split all apps into three types:

1. Basic Level

An app is considered a simple one if it possesses basic features, does not require highly customized solutions, does not need integration of third-party services or backend servers. Such applications do not process big data amounts and are aimed at building a user-friendly interface. Mobile development process of an Android/iOS simple app takes approximately 1,000 hours.

2. Medium Level

Middle complex apps have a wider range of implemented features including customized UI/UX elements, real-time private chatting, payment gateway options, third-party API integration, simple backend solutions. Android/iOS apps with medium complexity level offer device adaptation (phone/tablet version) as well. Middle complex apps usually require around 1,800 hours to complete the programming part.

3. High Level

Highly complex apps provide a full feature set accompanied by completely custom UI/UX solutions. Such applications usually offer audio/video content processing, complex design/animation elements, synchronization feature, several third-party service integrations, profound backend having relations to diverse databases. Highly complex apps allow process diverse info, are compatible with various devices/software, show perfectly optimized performance. The cost of building an app like this would be significant, as iOS/Android mobile development period usually lasts 2,400 hours minimum.

Finally, after we’ve described all ins and outs, now is a good time to unlock some renowned market players’ average costs.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Mobile App Like Instagram, Facebook, Spotify, or Uber?

This section compares the costs of building apps alternative to Instagram, Facebook, Spotify, and Uber.

A nice option to understand the average iOS/Android app cost is to analyze key market representatives. Judging upon expenses of field leaders, it becomes much easier to build your own app development budget.

Besides the factors listed above, the total mobile app development price depends largely upon its type, as it determines what features to be implemented. Let us consider several examples.

1. Facebook

Facebook app development software cost ranges from $350.000 to $400.000.

To build a social media platform like Facebook would take a lot of time, due to its diverse features. News feed, private chats, groups, media sharing, video calls together with customized design make it hard calculating the total cost of app development.

The most time-consuming features are believed to be private chat, video calls, and news feed, as they possess a wide range of usage possibilities. Time spent on Facebook working-out varies from 2,800 hours to 3,100 hours, which constitute a budget around $350,000-$400,000.

2. Instagram

Instagram-like application development cost may vary from $105.000 to about $500.000.

Another example of a social media platform is Instagram, though it has different specifications and target audience. If Facebook aimed at interpersonal communication, Instagram is more image-oriented. Visual component privilege determined the difference in building process. Its key features concern advanced profile customization/settings, photo editing possibilities, geolocation, profound searching system.

Ensuring image loading and processing stands for the most complex workflow part, while total app development time may reach up to 1000 hours without UI/UX inclusion. Further design solutions take 150-200 hours more. Thus, the cost of developing an app like Instagram at an average rate of $125 per hour is estimated from $105.000 to $150.000. However, other sources estimate Instagram’s budget at about $500.000.

3. Spotify

Spotify mobile app development budget results in a $110.000-$170.000.

Another popular app kind is music streaming services like Spotify. To make an app dealing with audial content one should consider the complexity of streaming players first. If a business owner aims at creating a unique solution, they must be prepared to pay for a time- and effort-consuming process. Together with additional features like advanced search, libraries, artist/album ranging feature, suggestion engine it would take about 850 hours minimum, which results in a $110.000-$170.000 budget at an average hourly rate.

However, developing Spotify-like app budget one should remember about other expenses primarily excluded out of mobile development budget. First of all, preliminary cost estimate never covers high music licensing and music hosting prices, as well as advertising, browsing, etc.

4. Uber

Uber-like mobile app cost starts from $120.000.

The last example worth considering is on-demand app type represented by Uber. During several years Uber-like services took off and occupied a significant part of the modern market due to their service-providing convenience and user-friendly interface.

The main pitfall while designing Uber-like app is that you need two different apps instead of a unified one. On-demand services usually aim at uniting suppliers and customers; thus, they design two different app versions possessing different key features.

As for the customer’s version, the leading features usually are booking options, convenient service search, diverse payment possibilities. Therefore, essential work-time part would be spent onto various payment gateway implementations and ensuring multiple booking solutions. The average amount of work to build an app for customers only varies from 420 hours to 525 hours.

Service supplier’s version is less time-consuming, so it requires less expenses. Among key features here stand tracking/geolocation, status updates, reply possibilities. To make an app for service providers the average development team requires up to 400 hours maximum.

Admin panel and UI/UX solutions would take some more time, so, as a total, Uber-like app demands from 950 hours to 1200 hours of work, which results in a budget of about $120.000-150.000.

Despite the impressive numbers, you have to be honest about that if one wants another Uber or Instagram, they should expect to pay. Still, we know some actionable tips on how you can cut smartphone app development cost.

How You Can Cut Mobile Application Development Cost

Despite the established rates, you can optimize your mobile app development budget. But keep in mind to find the middle ground between an optimal app development budget and a promising feature-rich mobile platform. Below, let’s gather some essentials to cut app development software cost.

1. Cross-Platform Development Tools

Besides shortening time-to-market and saving money, React Native, or similar frameworks, allows creating a single app for both Android and iOS, increasing app performance, utilizing reusability standards, sorting out bugs, transferring from web to mobile.

2. Build an MVP Before Creating an App

If you are short on budget, you need to begin with one small step by creating a minimum viable product (MVP). An MVP works perfectly as a proof of concept. Yes, you’d have to spend much time deciding what features to include or exclude once you rolled out an MVP. The initial feedback will help you plan an app development budget for the full product. What’s more, a stable MVP version becomes recognizable on the market, which results in getting more fundings so that you can keep on creating a full app.

3. End-to-End Software Services Provided by the Same App Development Company

Instead of being a middleman between a design agency and software vendor, consider partnering with a full-cycle development firm that provides all mobile programming solutions under one roof. Without a doubt, it will spare you much effort in terms of time and money.

4. Use Packaged Mobile Software Development Solutions

It so happens that off-the-shelf software products may save the day by being adapted to satisfy common business needs. But they are not a panacea: created for all, they might not cover your business’s particular requirements and, after a while, still force you to customize your service anyway.

5. Don’t Keep Dead Thing Alive

It’s time to retire legacy OSs and smartphones. The thing is that many older-generation devices don’t have required technical capabilities to handle the newest update’s features. Even more, focusing on recent iOS and Android devices will help you save up to twice the mobile app development budget.

Jump Into Building Apps Right Now!

Your time is money, lots of money. For sure, defining a mobile app cost of mobile software development has lots of moving parts. Application development cost depends on what business model you choose, how complex a mobile platform is, whom you partner with, when you jump into mobile programming (high or low season for digital publishers), and many, many more. We advise you to pay special attention to a trusted software vendor as mobile app developers with proven niche expertise are genuinely interested in your app’s long-term success.

To build an app with an optimal app development budget, you should consider all of the variables concerning the development environment, or contact us to get a professional cost estimate for your particular case right away!

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