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App development cost: 7 ways to optimize your budget

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app development cost optimization

This article is an ultimate guide for you to have a overall look at app development cost. Here we give you the average costs, factors that affects the cost, tools for you to quickly estimate and show you ways to optimize your budget.

“Individuals run their lives on a network of interconnected apps, with a projected revenue generation of $935 billion by 2023.”

Forbes

Wow, that’s lots of money.

No doubt that mobile apps have become an indispensable part of people’s daily life.

The average daily time spent on a phone, excluding chatting on the phone, has grown in recent years, reaching 4 hours and 23 minutes in April, 2021. According to Statisca, by 2023, the time is predicted to be approximately 4 hours and 35 minutes. 

With this long screen time and over 6.5 billion active smartphone users in 2022, there is no reason to pass them up given how well-liked they are and the amount of profit they bring.

But first, it’s crucial to know how much it costs to create an app. The majority of clients who come to us with their brilliant app concepts ask this as one of their first inquiries.

To us, this is not a new question. Some people may give you an estimation, some just say “it depends”. 

A Clutch survey found the average minimum app development cost ranges from $5,000 to $10,000, but is quick to establish that these starter projects only cover the discovery phase. The actual costs are much higher with a median total app development cost of $171,450.

With simple apps, we can make an estimation which is quite close, however, with complex ones or super apps, the estimation is nowhere near the true cost. 

So why’s that? Let’s dive in and see what affects the cost and how to optimize the budget for your project.

Factors that affect app development cost

Mobile app’s development cost is influenced by a variety of factors. In this post, we introduce you the seven ones that we consider the most important:

Complexity: the fewer features the app has, the less it costs

The features and integrations you select, as well as the method used, will determine how complex the app is.

Mobile App complexity

The cost of developing mobile applications relies greatly on the number of features and their complexity. 

Type 1: Simple complexity: Essential features only

It comprises basic features, three to four screens, simple functions, and no data storage.

Such an application will have the main features, including:

  • Login/Sign up
  • Create/Edit profiles
  • Basic search
  • Notifications
  • Message
  • Admin panel/Dashboard 

The price will be established in accordance with a number of features made available by the app. Typical examples of these types of apps are a calculator, a timer, a note-taking app, or social media.

Type 2. Basic complexity: database and API-based applications

Adding more features and databases will raise the cost of developing an app.

You may want to add some more functionality in these applications (other than those you find above)

  • Social Media Integration
  • In-App Purchases
  • Payment Gateways
  • Geo-location 
  • Better Security Location Tracking
  • Geo location
  • Better Security

Typical examples: Photo-sharing applications, taxi-hailing or food delivery applications.

Type 3. High complexity: Advanced features and large-scale applications

These apps are made for big corporations. 

In essence, the businesses either choose to build custom-made software without integrations or utilize custom software to connect to already-existing systems.

Because complicated apps tend to be legacy or custom software, their development costs are higher than usual.

The overall cost of developing the app may be substantially higher than you might anticipate. 

Some features may change the price of an app:

  • Data Synchronization with more than two devices
  • Native features
  • Online streaming
  • In-App Calls
  • Messaging
  • Video Chats

Such applications not only require highly sophisticated development work, but also intricate research and preparation for the product roadmap. 

Different infrastructure components are needed for the construction of dashboards and visualizations, the complexity of the development platform, the number of servers, and databases. Not to mention the demands for redundancy and high availability.

These can need customization; the majority of the functionalities must be coded by the developers. It is difficult to estimate the cost and scope of an app project, especially before having some planning meetings.

Examples include trading platforms, CRM software, ERP software, and gaming apps.

Images and videos processing are the most expensive.

video processing feature

More and more apps include image and video processing, and thanks to the growing performance of embedded processors, these image-processing functions are increasingly complex. 

Yet these functions are usually very cost-sensitive. Image correction and image processing features come at a cost, and it is important to consider overall system costs to make the right decision.

While we’re talking about mobile app technology, the features you decide to add to your app will increase its complexity and affect its overall cost. 

Here are some typical inquiries from Upwork to take into account when creating your app (assume that the hourly rate is 30$) :

Feature Time (in hours)  Estimate Cost (in USD) 
Sign-in  Social login (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc) 15 $450
Email login 20 $600
Single sign-on 60 $1,800
No login 
In-app features Events (e.g., calendar booking features) 100 $3,000
Product catalog (e.g, e-commerce marketplace) 200 $2,000
Vendor portal (e.g., business view)  250 $2,500
Location, map and navigation 100 $3,000
Forms (e.g., log-in, survey)  15 $1,500
Push notifications  10  $300
Loyalty system  150 $4,500
Streaming video/audio 25 $750
App hardware integrations Camera  20 $600
Geofencing  40  $1,200
Bluetooth  30 $900
Gyroscope  40  $1,200
Accelerometer  40 $1,200
Pedometer  40 $1,200
Altitude  20 $600

Development region: Asia has huge advantage over the cost

Asian countries has long been a attractive destination for software development due to low-cost labors. If you want to develop a software at an optimal cost, those worth considering.

However, if you choose to develop mobile apps yourself or hire domestically, you can have a higher level of control and closer contact between the two companies.

According to a survey from Statisca, here is the median cost of mobile application development in some regions: 

mobile app development cost by region

It is clear that the price is more affordable in Eastern Europe or in Asian countries such as India. Vietnam and China are also emerging software hub as well. 

CIO magazine suggests that outsourcing to asian countries saves up to 90% of costs, compared to developing software in the US and UK. 

You may create an app for almost 1/40th of the price ($120-160/hour) in one of these places. 

Having said that, hiring an agency or vendor in English-speaking countries still has some advantages: no language barrier or big time zone difference. 

App type: Web app is the most affordable option

 

App type 

(by technology) 

Web app  Native app  Hybrid app 
Cost $60,000-$300,000 $50,000-$300,000 $40,000-$200,000
Performance  Depending on the browser’s performance  and internet connectivity. Much faster and more responsive. Also, they tend to be more advanced in terms of features and functionality The app’s speed depends greatly on the speed of the user’s browser, which means it will almost never perform as fast as a native app.
Maintenance Low: Every platform uses the same code. High: According to Clutch, maintenance cost of the native apps is very high, accounting for roughly 15 to 20% of the app development cost.  Moderate: Hybrid applications use simple HTML that is easy to maintain. It also has a tendency to continue working without any changes. 

Platform: Android or iOS? 

Here is the development rate per platform according to Goodfirm

Platform  Android 

(in $ per hour)

iOS

(in $ per hour)

Cross-platform

(in $ per hour)

Economical project  Range 12-110 8-110 12-110
Avg. 60 50 60
High-end project  Range 15-233 10-238 16-220 
Avg. 120 120 120

Are you creating an app for Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS?

There is no doubt that you will profit from both marketplaces, but you shouldn’t feel guilty about starting with the platform that best meets your demands and then expanding your clientele once your first investment has been repaid. 

Here is a quick analysis of the benefits and drawbacks of each platform to assist you in making your decision.

Platform  iOS Android
Market share (according to Statisca 27,88% 71,47%
Development complexity Apple iOS developers typically use Swift, which requires less code and is considered easier to use.

In general, iOS is simpler to develop for. On average, iOS apps cost less to create and maintain than Android apps and take less time to develop.

Android platform developers usually use Kotlin and Java, which makes the development more time-consuming and sometimes cumbersome.
Testing  However, the majority of iOS devices have a similar design and functionality. 

Therefore, testing iOS apps is generally simpler for testers.

Fragmentation makes testing very challenging. 

Also, different Android devices have different screen sizes and layouts. This makes it difficult for the testing teams to test the Android apps.

Even with even the most simple apps, developers usually have to issue fixes because most users continue to use older operating systems rather than updating them. 

App release  The iOS app approval process is more difficult than Android. Google Play is less demanding than the Apple App Store. If your app is not pertinent or useful enough, it may still be rejected by Apple even if it doesn’t violate any guidelines. 

 

Hidden app development costs you may not know

Cross-platform development cost

When developing an app for the first time, app developers must overcome numerous challenges. It might be brought on by a lack of knowledge or experience with specific facts. 

Building apps for numerous platforms is a mistake made by many inexperienced mobile app developers. 

Since each platform requires a unique set of programming languages, an iPhone app made for Android is pointless. 

A separate iOS-friendly mobile app must be created by developers, which will ultimately drive up the cost of developing the app.

To solve this issue, app developers should concentrate on creating hybrid apps, which can be modified and tweaked to run on several devices.

Installation and maintenance cost

The process of creating a mobile app takes time. You could believe that once an app is created, the developers’ work is done. 

However, once the development period is through, there is a ton of work to be done. The app requires ongoing maintenance after it has been created and installed.

A number of concerns need to be considered, including the addition of enhanced functionality, security updates, Android and iOS updates, user support links, and many more. 

Regular maintenance during such times can be pricey and add to the cost of developing your mobile app.

Marketing and promotion cost 

The success of the app is heavily dependent on marketing and advertising. However, this expense is frequently overlooked by app publishers. 

You anticipate users would download your valuable app when you create it and upload it to various app stores. 

You must create a successful marketing plan if you want people to recognize the app.

You should be prepared to pay between $7,000 and $20,000 if you want to start with a marketing approach. 

Developing and marketing a mobile app may be expensive. You should think about the marketing and advertising charges prior to beginning the creation of a mobile app.

Extra cost on the “debut”

Without a question, the first iteration of a mobile app is crucial. You must invest in upkeep once the app is first launched. 

Your mobile app should be updated with new features if you want it to succeed. 

The environment is changing, so your software needs to be adjusted if you don’t want new features. 

It must handle everything on its own, including security updates, bug reports, and web browser discrepancies. 

To maintain your mobile app current with the ecosystem’s changes, you should test it proactively.

Design-related cost

Designing the app is a task that mobile app development businesses delegate to their internal team. 

According to their needs, they might hire freelancers and other pros to do the assignment. 

However, the developers did not give it their all, resulting in a subpar product. Once the program is released and users begin using it, these problems are typically discovered.

In these situations, the app store removes the application, causing a significant revenue loss to the app development company. 

Due to the app’s bad design, more money must be spent to create a new mobile app, which will ultimately drive up the cost.

Out-of-date technologies

When creating an app, a number of things come to mind. One of the crucial factors to take into account while creating an app is its lifespan. 

What determines a mobile app’s longevity is now the question. The lifespan of mobile apps is, of course, greatly influenced by technology and operating systems.

When considering an app’s lifespan, you should prioritize development pace. Pick a technology that is ideal for your application. 

Creating an all-in-one mobile application utilizing a framework like Xamarin, PhoneGap, React Native, Flutter, Ionic etc., can often be sufficient. These innovations are ideal for mobile applications with little functionality.

Quality controlling and troubleshooting

The majority of mobile app developers view testing as only a formality. Developers believe everything is finished since they are more focused on the app’s design. 

To ensure that the software is flawless in every way, it must, however, be tested numerous times. You are mistaken if you believe that your app will operate flawlessly on the first try.

When problems do emerge, you’ll be more prepared for them. Testing is undoubtedly a worthwhile investment. It will assist you in averting future issues. In the long term, you may avoid wasting money by regularly testing your app.

Changes in the plan

The MVP or the initial requirements may be used by mobile app developers to provide an estimation. 

However, as the project develops, the original specifications frequently change. You might want to upgrade current features or add new ones. In the end, this will raise the price of creating apps.

The largest error programmers make is not having a clear reason for creating the app. To prevent any deviations from the project plan, double-check the mobile app’s goal and conduct concurrent testing throughout the development process.

If you are not prepared to deal with the hidden costs, developing a mobile app may seem like an overwhelming process. Regardless of whether you are in the designing, installing, testing, or marketing phases, you should be ready for unforeseen costs. 

Takeaway: Be flexible and set aside at least 20% of your budget for after the launch.

App development cost calculators

Ok, it seems there are a lot of things to consider. Is there a tool which can help me to calculate the cost in no time? 

Well, lucky for you. There are lots of them available for free. Here is the list:

Spdload calculator

app development calculator

The calculator has several options for you to choose. Starting from type of app, industries, mobile or web applications, complexity as well as some roles you may want to include. After you enter your email, the result will be sent to you. 

Buildfire calculator

app cost calculator

It is a seven-step calculator that leads you through several filters to determine the cost of developing a mobile app. These include Buildfire Services, Platform, Users, Features, Integrations, Monetization, Maintenance & Hosting, and Monetization.

Oozou calculator

app cost calculator tool

With this calculator, all of the criteria used to determine a price are given on a single page. 

The filters take into account the size of the app, the complexity of the user interface, the sophistication of the account features, the complexity of user-generated content, mobile-specific features like support for the Apple Watch, Cloud Syncing, and more.

Inoxoft calculator

cost calculator tool app

This estimator is made to determine the cost of desktop and mobile software. 

This calculator provides you with a price tag estimate range for each phase of the price calculation procedure, in contrast to the calculators mentioned before.

How Much to Make an App

App development cost estimation

The simple, eight-step calculator has a feature that offers a price estimate at each stage, much like the Inoxoft one. To continue with the app project development, a form with contact information is available on the final screen.

Andreasley calculator

cost calculator for mobile app development

The calculator determines the price depending on the following criteria: Platform, Quality, Quantity, Number of Screens, Custom Controls, Device Types, Screen Orientation Modes, Security Level, Supported OS Versions, Quantity of Languages Supported, Deployment, and Special Functions (such as in-app payments support, stats, Push Notifications and more).

Litslink calculator

app cost calculator

A seven-step calculator that guides you through the 27 questions, starting with choosing the sector for which a mobile app must be developed. The calculator offers a breakdown of all decisions taken along with producing an app development price tag. 

The tool offers a contact form that can be filled out to get an app development price tag estimate after the cost calculation process is complete.

Digitalya calculator

app cost estimation

A five-step calculator that estimates the cost and duration of the app development process. You can get a ready-to-use estimate in.PDF format. 

Web/mobile/both, the app user profile, features to add to the MVP, a revenue stream (regular payments/upfront fees/a shopping cart system), and high-tech features to include (AI, IoT, VR/AR). 

Get a more accurate estimation of your app

If you want a more accurate estimation of your app’s cost, you can drop us a message. Our expert team will contact you shortly, help you immediately validate your idea and draft a FREE plan for to develop your app. 

7 ways to optimize you app development budget

 

optimize app development cost

 

So how to minimize those costs that may make you overspend your budget? Here are 7 solutions for you. 

1. Provide clear expectations and requirements.

An app development project should start with a planning phase. This research, discovery and scope definition phase is dedicated to define project requirements and expected outcome. 

Skipping this step will most certainly lead to delays and increased costs later on.

2. Choose the right technology stack

Finding the proper tech stack to build your software product is another aspect you need to pay attention to.

The tech stack has a significant impact on the app development cost because it gives the direction of the development workflow, determines the cost and possibility of app growth (scalability), and regulates the commercial risk grade.

3. Use Agile Software development method

Agile projects save because they don’t waste as large a percent of hours on fixing errors.

Additionally, the short cycle time and frequent integrations that enable it mean that errors are caught sooner – which again lowers the time and so cost of fixing them.

4. Start with Minimum Viable Product (MVP):

Consider developing a minimum viable product (MVP) or proof of concept app. This would have limited functionality, features, and design, but it can get you started in the right direction.

It’s a great option for those of you who have a great idea but don’t have $10,000 or $100,000 at your disposal. 

The great thing about an MVP is that it will make it easier for you to secure funding from outside investors if you decide to proceed and fully develop your idea.

5. Consider hiring

If you are new to software development and or you don’t have enough time to solve related problems, then you should hire someone to do it for you, or you may say, outsource. 

What is outsource?

This is quite a popular concept. According to Investopia, Outsourcing is the business practice of hiring an agency outside your company to handle a business process or some tasks that were supposed to be performed by you or your employees. 

Cost-effectiveness is one of the major reasons to choose to outsource your app to developers that will provide you the best results at the best price. 

By getting outsourced expert help without having to hire more full-time employees than required will improve your overall productivity and efficiency.

6. Opt for simple UI/UX design

Creating a unique user interface design is a complicated deed that provides additional expenses to your project. 

The affordable variant suggests using OS-supplied items and building screens of standard elements. The quantity of screens is also a determining factor.

7. Involve a quality assurance specialist

The purpose of Quality Assurance in app development is to make sure that bugs, mistakes, and potential risks of your app are addressed at an early stage of the development process. 

This will help reduce costs by solving unexpected problems in a timely manner, mitigating the impact it might have on the project as well as the negative experience it might deliver to your users.

Interesting Fact about Mobile App development:

A research conducted by Clutch reveals that it costs up to $5,000 to come up with an initial concept and do research. 22% went above the $5k threshold and spent $10k and 14% spent anywhere between $10 and  $25k. Clearly, compared with other app development stages, Discovery is the most affordable one.

GoodFirms places a basic app between $40,000 to $60,000, a medium complexity app between $61,000 to $69,000, and a feature-rich app between $70,000 to $100,000.

A Clutch survey found the average minimum app development project cost to be between $5,000 to $10,000, but is quick to establish that these starter projects only cover the discovery phase. The actual costs are much higher with a median total app development cost of $171,450.

According to a report by The Systems Sciences Institute at IBM, it may be up to 100 times cheaper to deal with the problem during the maintenance stage than after the product release. 

Mobile apps are expected to generate over $935 billion in revenue by 2023, according to Statista.

Examples of App Development Cost

A study worth mentioning is a publication by GoodFirms. The team surveyed several dozen tech companies, asking participants to estimate how long it would take to develop apps like Instagram, Tinder, and Uber, and then averaged the responses generated.

Based on this process, here is the report:

Feature-rich highly complex apps  Estimate cost (in USD) Average time 
Like Instagram  $143,728 13 months
Like Whatsapp $184,252 12 months
Like Tinder  $102,688 10 months
Like Uber $152,776 13 months

Tinder

tinder

There are numerous dating apps in the market but Tinder became an instant success right after its launch. In 2012, the year it appeared on the market, it raised $485,000 in seed. Tinder’s functionality is quite simple for users.  

The only thing you need to do is swipe right and left for liking or disliking a particular person. In case the person you liked returns the affection, the app creates a match. The average cost of such an application can be over 100,000$, and it can take up to 10 months to develop. 

TikTok

tiktok

The average cost of developing apps like TikTok will be somewhere around $70,000 to $120,000. 

While this is the absolute estimated amount, it will increase as you add more features in the application such as high-end animations, artificial intelligence or maybe blockchain for handling the in-app purchase of your application.

Uber

uber

When you decide to create an app like Uber, you’ll need to create three different apps. Surprised?

Here’s what we mean:

  1. Driver app – as the name may suggest, this app is designed for drivers. They should be able to accept trips, check trip details, get paid for their services, and track all the payments.
  2. Passenger app –this app is dedicated for riders who use it to book drivers, find matching drivers, pay for services and rate drivers.
  3. Admin panel – this is the part of the app that allows you to control your app, moderate passengers and drivers, view reports and analytics.

The features of the app include:

  • payment integration.
  • geolocation.
  • routing and advanced route optimization.
  • SMS and push notifications integration.
  • and more additional features.

The cost to develop apps like Uber may range from $100,000 to $170,000 for one platform (iOS or Android). The more platforms and features you add, the higher the development cost.

Develop the best mobile app with BiPlus

Our only priority is to create a market-ready product for you at the best possible price.

Starting with the problems of customers you intend to solve, and we will work with you in this very early stage to analyze the problem and find solutions to best address it. Then, you will be provided with a detailed proposal and the first 2 weeks for free. 

We will prepare a roadmap of our further steps, then move to the product design stage. At this stage we deliver a user experience and user interface that meet your business goals and satisfy your users. Finally, we help you develop your product and introduce it on the market.

Have a project in mind? Let’s talk about it. 

You will get:

  • A detailed estimation of your app development cost.
  • Free proposal for your idea.
  • Find down what approach might be the best for you.
  • Get a feel if BiPlus is right for you.
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