How much does it cost to build a mobile app?

Archer Blog - How much does it cost to build mobile app
Unfortunately, there is no single answer to the question of how much should a mobile app development cost. The cost will depend on your niche, your goals, the type of application, operating system, and technical complexity of the solution, the design and architecture, and even the location of your outsourcing partner.

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However, it’s still possible to get a rough estimate to answer how much does it cost to develop a mobile app. Plus, it is always possible to reduce the cost of development without losing quality. We’ll tell you how.

The main rule of mobile app development

The more thoughtful the approach, the less it will cost.

This is actually a principle of the LEAN startup methodology. Its essence is very simple - the more bottlenecks and problems you can foresee before starting development, the more efficient and less costly the process will be. Therefore, it is always worth starting from the very beginning with the validation of an idea for the app and a proper business analysis phase that will ensure you are building the most wanted use case.

As experienced startup executives say (by experienced we mean those who have experienced failure as well), early failure means cheap failure. Forty-two percent of startups fail because their idea is not in demand in. This means that before you begin development, you need to carefully validate your idea, make possible changes, and only then move on.

It is also necessary to do a comprehensive market analysis and sensibly assess the situation. After exploring the market you can understand what your idea might be missing or why your solution is better than others, where to look for your target audience, and what they expect from a certain type of product.

Key facts about mobile app development costs and timeframes

Let's start by focusing on what we should be prepared for and the approximate costs involved.

  • Cost of the app development:
    The minimum cost of creating an application starts at $10,000, however, practice shows that these numbers tend to be the minimum expenditure rather than the average. According to some sources, the more realistic figure starts at $25,000.
  • Cost of a mobile app developer:
    The cost of a mobile developer per hour can also be very different from $9 an hour if you hire one in India (Boeing can probably share some experience), to $200 an hour if you work with a top American company.
  • The timeframe of mobile app development:
    As for the time frame, on average, the creation of a custom mobile application takes about three months in 60% of cases. However, 6 months is more realistic if you want to build a comprehensive user-friendly solution with rich functionality.

How much does it cost to maintain an app?

Maintenance can be quite expensive, especially if you expect high loads. One-third of the development cost is likely to be spent on supporting the application in the first year of its operation, and each next year this figure will remain at 15-25% of the total development cost. It is necessary to budget appropriately at least for the first year of the live application.

Key factors that influence the cost of making a mobile app

As we said, the answer to the question of how much does it cost to develop a mobile app will depend on:

  1. Complexity of the use cases and features,
  2. Number of third-party integrations and required tech stack,
  3. Development team setup. 

Let's take a basic example.

With the following team setup, in 1 month you can develop a basic hybrid app (compatible with iOS and Android) with a solid backend architecture and a CMS to manage the app content. This could be, for example, an eCommerce application for a clothes store with the product catalog and online payment:

  • Mobile app developer,
  • Backend developer,
  • Frontend developer,
  • QA specialist,
  • Project manager.

For a mere illustration of how the cost of the mobile app development is estimated, let's consider that the average hourly rate for an average mobile app development team member regardless of his/her specific duties and seniority level is $40. 

The hourly work breakdown for this mobile app development will be as follows:

Team memberHoursCost
Mobile App Developer168 h$6,720
Backend Developer168 h$6,720
Frontend Developer120 h$4,800
QA Specialist129 h$5,160
Project Manager40 h$1,600
Total625 h$25,000

    Following the same logic, you can also see a few hypothetical examples of the app development costs below. Please, keep in mind that any application in the table below can include a very complex functionality and so vary in cost significantly based on the features set and team setup. However, it will help you get the idea of what the key factors influencing the cost of the development process would be.

    App typeCostKey factors influencing the cost
    App with a third-party integrationfrom $25,000The cost of the application will depend on the cost of the Application Programming Interface (API) of a third-party service from which the app will get data.
    Social networking app
    from $50,000
    It is much more difficult to promote a social network than to create it. The main pitfall of this approach is that marketing can take a lot more money than the development itself.
    On-demand appfrom $50,000This is a case where the price goes well with both the quality of the solution and the prospects of the business idea. On-demand apps are popular and in demand since they fit perfectly into the sharing economy and wise consumption concepts.
    Internet of Things (IoT) appfrom $50,000The cost of developing this application could be higher depending on the cost of creating a physical device or hardware or integrating with one. Plus, IoT applications are built according to specific data security standards.
    E-commerce appfrom $70,000The complexity of creating eCommerce applications is that you need to keep a balance between excellent usability and design. In addition, these applications have a complex hierarchical structure, usually require a set of integrations with third-party systems (payment gateways, delivery services, warehouse management, CRM, etc.), and this complicates the development, takes time, and increases the e-commerce app development cost.
    Marketplace appfrom $100,000What is true for creating e-commerce applications is also true for creating a marketplace app. Plus, there is still a need to provide the ability to withstand heavy user loads and create a secure transaction system like holding escrow accounts.
    Machine Learning (M) and Artificial Intelligence (A) appfrom $100,000Artificial intelligence applications are becoming more affordable, yet this is still a very expensive technology. Most of the time and money will be spent on training the model and testing its work in action.

    Location matters - app development cost in different countries

    The most important factor in determining the price of developing a mobile application is the location of your vendor. You can get the same solution by paying $200,000 or $50,000 depending on where the developers are located. Let's compare the monthly salary of a mobile developer in different countries to see the difference.

    Note! Remember that the average time required to create a mobile application is six months. In addition, you need not just one developer, but a team consisting of a project manager, UI/UX designer, QA specialist, and marketer.

    CountryMonthly salary of a mobile developer6-month total
    USA$6,000$36,000
    Germany$4,400$26,400
    Ukraine$2,500$15,000
    India$500$3,000

    As you can see, hiring developers in Ukraine may be the most reasonable decision from the standpoint of quality, technical background, time zone, and price.

    How much does it cost to make an app by yourself?

    It is inexpensive. Much cheaper than custom development from scratch. But is this really what your business needs and can this application satisfy the specific needs of your company and your customers? App builders are designed to solve many problems at once, and an application created using this method will never be business-specific. Therefore, if the user experience is one of your priorities, it is better to plan a mobile app development cost breakdown and invest in a custom solution.

    Conclusion

    As you can see, custom mobile app development always makes more sense if you are serious about your business. Yes, it can be a costly decision, but a correctly developed mobile app will give you a good return on your investment. That is why it is necessary to carefully choose a vendor and take all factors into account. We, at Archer Software, have already helped dozens of clients’ revenues skyrocket with great mobile apps, and we can do the same for your business.

    Contact us at info@archer-soft.com to learn more.

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