You have an awesome idea for a consumer app or you’re developing an enterprise mobile app for your business. You did your research and it’s a go. You can’t wait to get started. 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 $5000. The news stories claiming the overnight hit was developed over 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 a reality. In fact, there is 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.Click To Tweet

What’s involved in developing an App?

There are 4 stages of developing a successful app:

  • Strategy
  • App Development
  • Marketing
  • Support & Maintenance

Strategy

Mobile strategy covers everything from conceptualizing app’s idea to the steps you will take for developing a successful app. Building 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 get your mobile app development started. 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 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. This can include media outreach, promotional activities, paid campaigns, and PR announcements.

Support & Maintenance

Mobile app development is an ongoing process. Customer feedback, market demands, and technology advancement will require maintaining or enhancing 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. 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 setup 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 app for iOS and Android then developer for each mobile platform)
  • App tester
  • Project / Product Manager

With a mobile app development team, what you are really investing in is expertise, experience, and specialization. This includes user experience design skills, advanced development skills, program management skills, and industry knowledge. Designers are the visualizer. 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, an app developer from each discipline is required on the team. 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 spec, manage work assignments, establish and manage time lines, and keep the project on schedule.

As you might realize, 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 $1.25million 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 – $200,000and 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 & performances, and multiple app versions for the iPhone, and Android devices.

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.

  • 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

As you now have a better understanding of the intricacies of creating a successful app, the development cost will not seem outrageous. Run your app idea through our app cost calculator. This will help you estimate your app development budget.

Conclusion

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

App development cost is not an expense, it’s an investment.Click To Tweet

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.

Have any questions regarding app development or need our team to help evaluate your app idea? Add your comments below or contact us to schedule a call.

Maulik Shah
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