Mobile app development pricing

How to create an app? What designates an app development cost? Whether you need to make an app for iOS or create an app for Android, in most cases it is most advantageous to entrust the development to experienced mobile application developers.

How much does it cost to build an app? Mobile app development price estimation is a complex process affected by many factors. One may be satisfied with only an iphone app development cost coming to the Apple adherents market. Another one prefers to start with Android followers providing solutions for multiscreen devices. Therefore, an android app development cost would be of current importance.

First of all, the cost variates depending on the finished application’s function types and amounts. Secondarily, we evaluate the following criteria for a mobile app development cost:

• The platforms for which the application will be developed, their amount.
• If there will be a server backend, third-party services integration?
• At what stage currently is the customer’s idea? Is there a ready designs or application sketches?
• Will the case be a public one, if we will be able to publish it in our portfolio?

It should also be noted that individual applications, as a rule, presume several separate releases. The application that is released with the use of the App Store and Google Play must be regularly updated and maintained in response to users’ demand and feedback. This is why we always recommend dividing the project into several versions and form the price of each individual release respectively considering all the factors above.

Our ample experience cooperating with startups and entrepreneurs allowed us to establish the following principles:

• We comprehend the impact of the proposed mobile solution by the measurable key business performance indicators such as application’s user number increase, income generated by the application, additional monetization opportunities.

• The mobile application benefit is estimated based on what users’ problems it solves and how. While evaluating the functions of the application we try to take into account the critical ones. We advise our clients not to develop the non-critical ones with the first release. This helps our customers not only to save funds but also to receive the working application build as soon as possible.

Let us examine the aspects of mobile application development cost more closely.

I. How much does it cost to make a mobile app?

Not a single professional development company can give you the accurate project cost right away. The online price calculators that can be found on the net are nothing more than marketing bait. Even the initial hourly rates are often negotiable.

At the stage of negotiations we first give the customer a rough estimate based on a planned amount of hours it will take to develop a mobile app. Depending on the complexity of the idea’s implementation and embedded functions we divide all the developed applications into four categories – simple, middle complexity, high complexity and innovative. Based on the average hourly rate of $40 the rough estimate of the project development depending of its category would be like so:

• Simple applications typically include some basic functionality, elementary integrated API(s), plain UI/UX, item list(s), simple search.

Development timeframe up to two months, interface design – up to 80 hours, development (mobile and backend/BaaS) – up to 500 hours, around 25% of which is reserved for project management (PM) and testing (QA) together. Average cost to develop an app is around $25000-$35000. An example of such app can be RecallEmail – a personalized email client with a delayed send feature (1 month, 2 people) and Fewler – a mobile client for emergency fuel refill delivery service working in NY (2 months, 2 people).

• Middle complexity applications include more advanced features, like custom UI/UX elements, tablets support, payment services integration, social media integration, map search and so on.

Development timeframe – 2-5 months, interface design – up to 160 hours, development (mobile and backend/BaaS) – up to 900 hours, around 25% of which is reserved for PM and QA together. Average cost to develop an app is around $45000-$55000. An examples of such apps can be WhrzAt – a social networking interest-oriented chat application (2 months, 3 people) and Real Estate app – commercial application for a real estate business (3 months, 3 people).

• High complexity applications include the most advanced features such as audio/video processing, real-time synchronization, custom animations, integrations with third-party services, complex backend with several types of databases, offline data cache, etc.

Development timeframe – 2-5 months, interface design – up to 160 hours, development (mobile and backend/BaaS) – over 1000 hours, around 25% of which is reserved for PM and QA together. Average cost to develop an app is around $55000-$100000. An examples of such apps can be Social Event App – a full-fledged social media application (8 months, 5 people); MyOCard – web-based commercial app (12 months, 9 people) and AppleTV app – quick video search/navigation app (4 months, 8 people)

• Innovative applications apart from the high complexity features include a high-tech components and novelty elements.

Development timeframe – 6-12 months, interface design – over 160 hours, development (mobile and backend/BaaS) – over 1000 hours, around 25% of which is reserved for PM and QA together. Average cost to develop an app is around $50000-$100000.

Cost to Develop a Mobile App

II. What impacts the cost of the mobile app development?

Mobile application development cost is calculated by lots of different factors over the simple product of development time and hourly rate. Some of those are the needed development team, app intricacy and post-production maintenance.

Development team

Depending on the estimated project complexity and amount of platforms for which the application is being developed, either basic or advanced team can be assigned.

Basic team consists of:

• UI/UX designer;
• 1-2 developers;
• (optional) Backend developer;
• QA engineer.

One of the team members assumes the role of the team lead. UI/UX designer is responsible for the application appearance. Developers write the main code and engineer the additional app features. In case the project uses server infrastructure/API, backend developer joins the team. QA engineer tests the application in whole and proofs the implemented features. Team lead manages the team.

Advanced team consists of:

 • Project manager;
• UI/UX designer;
• 2-4 developers per platform;
• QA engineer;
• (optional) Backend developer;
• (optional) Admin panel developer.

Project manager manages the team, distributes the tasks and is personally responsible for the team’s results. In case the project uses server infrastructure/API, backend and admin panel developers join the team. The former setups the server and codes the server backend, the latter creates the administrative board that lets the customer to control the server.

Cost application elements

Cost-increasing application elements

These are the main factors that increase the application development costs:

1. The intricacy of the project’s business logic;
2. Used platforms amount;
3. Custom graphic elements and animations.

1. The intricacy of the project’s business logic

Tons of features can increase the business logic complexity. Some of the most obvious are:

• Integration with third-party services

Some of the mobile app functions can be best realized through the incorporation of third-party ready libraries, frameworks, services and websites. Examples are audio/video players, real-time charts, payment services and cloud hostings.

• Social media integration

Social media sharing and synchronization are possible through the APIs of such networks as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, etc

• Server backend

In most cases, server infrastructure is developed for the coordination and synchronization purposes, to connect a mobile app with one or more databases. Most of the application’s business logic is implemented here.

• Admin panel

The administration board or admin panel is a tool that lets the customer to control the backend and setup its settings, deploy apps, manage server’s content and user access, collect and view statistics, etc. Some examples of apt administrative templates exist, both free and paid, though in most cases it is most advantageous to create a custom admin panel suit for customer’s needs.

• Monetization

There are a plethora of possible monetization methods starting with virtual goods and decorations selling and ending with paid accounts. Implementing the monetization requires a profound code modification and expansion thus contributing to the increase in the project complexity.

• Optional hardware usage

Modern smartphones often contain different non-standard hardware components such as sensors (gyroscopes, accelerometers, barometers, proximity sensors, brightness sensors, etc.), communication modules (Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, etc.) and additional devices (cameras, hardware keyboards, etc.) The specific set may differ from gadget to gadget and from manufacturer to manufacturer. Implementing the interaction with different hardware components and testing the software’s compatibility with specific devices may increase significantly the project’s complexity and development time.

• Project urgency

If the customer needs the application to be released in a certain limited period of time, faster than the project timeline estimates, to maintain the minimum acceptable application quality we would need to increase the amount of personnel, involved in developing it. The more resources are involved, the more the development cost grows

2. Used platforms amount

In case of iOS, the application optimally should be compatible with the iPhone model line starting with the 4th generation and up to coming 7th and different iOS versions from the archaic iOS 6 up to current iOS 9 and the announced iOS 10. Needless to say that Apple Corp invests greatly into their devices’ and OSes’ backward compatibility, where possible.

In case of the Android platform, the devices’ and OSes’ diversity is much greater. Choosing which devices to support in the developed app, we take to account such factors as:

• The size of the market share for each Android device manufacturer;

For instance, currently the biggest share of all the Android devices market is held by Samsung with a total of 51,2%, next is Lenovo together with Motorola brand – 7,9%, LG – 6%, Sony – 4,3% and Huawei – 4,1%. (By Appbrain’s data)

• Devices specific to a given market;

For instance, top 9 most popular Android devices in US and UK are manufactured by Samsung; in Germany all the top 10 are Samsung; for China there are 4 Samsung devices listed in the most used 10, apart from local brands – Xiaomi, Huawei and Oppo; in Japan only two Samsung devices reach the top 10, while 5 most used devices are manufactured by Sony. (By Appbrain’s data)

• Client’s preferences.

The same diversity applies to Android OS versions present at the market. According to the Statista’s research in October 2015, most used Android OS version is KitKat (4.4) with a share of 38,9%, second being Lollipop (5.0) – 15,6%, next are Jelly Bean (4.2.x) – 14,5%, Jelly Bean (4.1.x) – 11,4%, Lollipop (5.1) – 7,9%, Jelly Bean (4.3) – 4,3%, Gingerbread (2.3) – 3,8%, Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) – 3,4% and Froyo (2.2) – 0,2%.

Obviously, such assortment of devices mean more time spent adapting the application to different screen resolutions/densities, hardware platforms and compatibility testing. Though, in the end you can decide to adapt your application to the most popular devices only and the development cost won’t rise as much.

All in all, considering the variety of Android devices in the use, developing the application for iOS often can be less costly. Moreover, of course the priciest would be to order the cross platform app.

  graphic elements and animations

3. Custom graphic elements and animations.

Developing progressive custom user interfaces/experiences is time consuming and costly as opposed to building it from the standard elements. Though, in some cases, precisely the application’s non-standard visual environment can be its key popularity feature.
Being an established developer, we have a whole library of custom ready interface elements and animations that can be used for your project thus contributing to its uniqueness while reducing the development costs.

Post-production maintenance

A significant portion of a total application development budget is made of a post-production maintenance costs. It includes such expenditures as customer support, updates and fixes development, server maintenances, cloud hostings, marketing and advertising, legal and accounting support, etc.

III. What are the application development hourly rates across the globe?

There are literally thousands if not millions of software development vendors on the planet. The hourly rates differ widely depending on the particular company’s country of residence. However, higher prices do not always mean the best quality. It is not rare for a cheaper company to provide excellent results. In the end, while looking for a developer, besides the prices you should also take in account how experienced is a candidate. The company with a broad expertise in the industry your application is directed at will inevitably provide better outcomes as most probably they already have the required knowledge and assets to create such application.

According to our appraisals, the current medians on hourly development rates across the Earth look like this:

• US and Canada - $40-$240;
• Australia - $40-$150;
• Western Europe, Scandinavia and UK - $40-180;
• Eastern Europe - $20-$120 (we reside in Ukraine and our medium hourly rate is $40);
• India - $5-$70.

IV. How the mobile app development cost estimation is formulated?

When we receive the request for cooperation, we try to respond to it as soon as possible – to establish the contact with the customer and clarify the details. Extremely important is to understand at which stage of development is the customer’s idea currently, if the interface design is needed, what main functional blocks must be developed and which are the most critical. In the result, the sales manager usually can give the customer a rough estimate – a range of estimated prices, based on the assessed needed development timeframe. If the designated price range is acceptable for the customer, we proceed to formulate the detailed estimate.

Assessment department experts divide the whole project into iterations, appraise the time required for each functional block and its cost, and estimate the approximate project’s timeframe. Often we also offer several possible solutions with justifications, suggest the functions that are better not included in the first project release, and which to focus on to attract the users’ attention. In fact, this process is an ongoing dialogue between the development company and the customer as the accurate assessment requires an acute project understanding. In most cases, it takes us around two days to formulate the detailed estimate, allotted by the functional blocks and iterations.

Read also: building a mobile chat app

For us, the project calculation is the possibility to better understand the customer’s business, their target audience and offer a truly advantageous solution. The customer, in turn, has an opportunity to check if they’re satisfied with our communication style and work approach. After all, contracting an application developer, in most cases the customer establishes a long-term collaboration.

Got an idea? Ask a request via hello@erminesoft.com to rocket the market with a revolutionary mobile app!

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