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Understanding Cost of Building a Mobile Application For Your Business

With the rising trend of using applications, every organization or individual wants to build an application to connect with people across the globe. Nothing in this world is free and that includes application development as well. As the demand for mobile applications rises, the pricing of the development team rises as well. When it comes to the exact cost of app building, it is always hard to define an accurate value and it mostly varies with several factors.

mobile app development cost

However, the foremost thing that everybody would like to know is the cost of app development along with the different factors that influence the pricing. With that in mind, this article will explain all about the cost of developing an mobile application including global cost, types, different features that impact the cost, and maintenance cost, among others. 

Mobile App Development Cost Globally: 

As mentioned above, the accurate cost of mobile application development varies with several factors including the location, application type, and features added in the application. However, in general, the cost of app development lies within $20k to $250K approximately. One of the biggest factors that will impact the overall development cost of an application is the location of the app developer.

With the above information, it is clear that the cheapest country for app development is India whereas the USA is the most expensive one. However, this does not imply that the most expensive country is the best or the cheapest is the worst. Several other factors influence the overall costing as well as the quality of the app development. Due to budget constraints, many organizations may prefer to outsource this task to developers overseas. Without a doubt, this is the right approach for plenty of users, but that comes with certain considerations as well. 

The foremost barrier that you may face is keeping a tab on the developer. When the developer is overseas, monitoring their work or getting an update might be a daunting task and may not be done frequently. Not to forget the communication gap due to language as well location. One noteworthy thing is that there is quite a difference between the costliest and the cheapest country for app development, but the quality benchmark is maintained in every nation. The final per hour pricing of developers of different regions differs based on several other factors which are discussed further.

Types of Mobile App Development and Cost Associated:

Though certain mobile applications may seem similar, there are tons of differences between them that are unknown to the users. Mobile application development is divided into three types where each one costs differently from the other. 

  1. Simple Application: The first one is a simple application, and as the name suggests, is uncomplicated to develop. In most cases, the entire development process of simple application lies between three to six months. Moving on to its overall cost, then these types of applications mostly cost somewhere between $40,000 to $100,000. 
  2. Medium Application: The development of medium applications is a bit more difficult than the simple application which is why they take six to nine months for development. Furthermore, the cost of development rises from $100,000 to $150,000. 
  3. Complex Application: The most time-taking as well as the most expensive application, Complex apps tend to require a lot of work than the former types. With higher complexity, the overall development time increases to over 10 months and the cost goes up to $300,000. 

Features of Mobile App that Affect the Overall Development Cost:

Mobile applications become successful when they are loaded with not just features, but useful features. When you are planning to create an application, the features you integrate plays a significant role in its final development cost. Implementation of certain features can be uncomplicated whereas some features take several hours to integrate. Let’s dig deeper into different features of mobile app and the difference they can add to the overall development cost. 

  1. User Login: User login is an essential feature for an application that provides subscription-based services. Other application types like e-commerce, informational, or others may also have this feature to offer a customized experience to the users. In most cases, the developer has to add login options from email, and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Gmail. Additionally, adding a logout option along with forgot password is mandatory as well. Adding these features may take 28-48 hours and the development cost could increase by approximately $1600. 
  2. Basic Messaging: Messaging functionality is not just limited to dedicated messaging apps. In the present time, e-commerce comes with messaging to share items with other users and music streaming applications also have such functionality to share playlists. The basic messaging features that can be integrated include online status, media file sharing, conversation details, and read receipts. Adding these features may consume over 160 hours that could cost nearly $6500 extra. 
  3. Creating and Editing Profile: Creating a profile is essential if the application wants to provide a better and more customized experience to the users. The ability to add display pictures, their geographical location, and other necessary information are among the crucial features to add to an application. Furthermore, profile editing features like changing passwords, email, payment methods, and pictures are some additional yet essential functions for an application. Adding profile creating and editing features may consume somewhere between 55-80 hours which could cost around $3500 approximately. 
  4. User Management: To expand the reach of the application, the admin should know certain insights about user engagement. Considering that fact, implementing features like seeing the number of users, creating, deleting, editing, and blocking users is essential for this task. All these features add up to 90-hours of additional development which can cost near to $3500.
  5. Payment: If the application is based on a subscription model, having payment and management features are crucial for a better user experience. Features like view balance, previous transactions, recent transactions, and add payment method increase the development time and cost by 70 hours and $3000 respectively. Moreover, payment management features for the admin like payment refund and see received payments raise the development time by 44 hours and development cost by $1700 approximately. 
  6. Maps: Having a map in an application will ease out the process not just for the user but for the admin as well, especially when delivery or pickup service is offered. With features like map search, pin location on the map, setting a pickup or delivery point, and detecting the current location of the user, the entire application will become more user-friendly and make it easier for the service provider to cater to users. However, adding all these services will increase the development time and cost by a whopping 100-hours and $4300 respectively. 

Factors Affecting Mobile App Development Cost:

A lot of thought is put into the development of an application. Analyzing several factors is done including the application type, its user interface, engaging elements, and budget, among others. However, there are certain external factors that should be considered before finalizing the overall model of the application as they directly influence the final costing. As the foremost consideration of every app development is budget, understanding different factors that could affect the pricing of app development is vital. Here we discuss all these aspects to make costs more transparent. 

  1. App Development Complexity: As explained above, the complexity level of the application development directly influences the final cost. The simpler applications tend to be cheaper as compared to more complex ones due to the lesser time and effort put into the creation by the developer. The complexity level is not a mere clear distinction, but it depends on the features that the application offers. The general rule of thumb is the more features an application will have, the more complex the development process will become, hence increasing the cost. 
    • Simple Complexity: A simple complexity application is built without many efforts or benefits but offers all the necessary user interface solutions that an application should have. Furthermore, it will come with all the essential features, but with a limited or low-tech screen. Features like admin panel, login, signup, messages, profile making, and notifications will exist in such applications. However, it may not have data storage options and the number of screens may be limited to just three or four. All these basic features will define the app development complexity as simple. 
    • Mid-Level Complexity: The difference between a mid-level and simple complexity application is that mid-level complexity applications will have a more complicated development process as they will have features like API integration, customized user interface, real-time messaging capability, and more screens. Furthermore, in-app purchases, better security, payment interface, and location tracking will also be there in such applications. All such apps need data storage from multiple databases. Prior to building such apps, it is crucial to determine the stipulated customer reach to ensure whether the development cost is justified or not. Having all such features will ultimately raise the development cost. 
    • High Complexity: Mainly designed for large enterprises with legions of users, high complexity applications come with tons of advanced features. Mostly, big organizations want to offer an entirely customized experience which ultimately leads to rising development costs. High-complexity apps come with advanced features like chatbots, better animation, media processing, data sync, video chats, calls, online streaming (live and recorded), native features, and many others. One noteworthy factor in such apps is that they not only come with development costs but research costs as well. When an application is made for such a large audience, it is pivotal to undergo in-depth research on the target audience and plan for a better outcome. Infrastructure and maintenance costs of high complexity apps are much higher as well due to the large user base.
  2. Business Model: Without a doubt, there are innumerable mobile applications in the current market, but only a few succeed in the long run. One of the major reasons for app failure is the lack of research and support of the overall business model. Before starting the development process, understanding the factors and features of the application that will help in generating revenue or supporting the business model is crucial. For instance, e-commerce should have add-to-cart, search, payment, and admin control features. Furthermore, understanding the elements that will help in driving user engagement as well as the overall business model is necessary to keep the application trending. Cutting short, it is the business model that will help in determining the features and UI changes that should be implemented, hence affecting the cost of the application development.
  3. Application Platform: The platform is the operating system on which the application will run. When it comes to picking the right platform, you need to determine whether you need to develop a native application or a cross-platform application.
    • Native Application: Native applications are apps that only support either Android or iOS platforms. Before determining the right platform, certain considerations like the overall market share, prevalence, and device fragmentation are kept in mind. Even though there is hardly any difference between the app development costs of both platforms, the cost rises when the application is created for both Android as well as iOS. If you wish to have a native application for both platforms, you need to spend twice the money as the developer has to write code for both operating systems individually.  
    • Cross-Platform Application: In contrast to native applications, cross-platform applications run on Android and iOS platforms. These application types are faster to develop and launch which reduces the overall cost. Having multiple platform support in a single application means that your app will have a large number of users and you can target them effectively. Furthermore, the maintenance cost is cheaper than native apps as you do not need a separate team for each platform. When it comes to its impact on cost, then it varies with the requirements and the research. For instance, if your target audience is specifically Android users, then going for a native application is the right thing to do. Apart from development cost, the Google Play store will charge a one-time $25 developer fee to publish the application. On the other hand, if your target audience is iOS users, then you want to follow the Apple App Store publishing process where you have to pay $99 as an annual fee to the App store. With that in mind, it is clear that the final costing varies with the platform and the target audience.
  4. Application Design: Application design is another substantial part of the development process which can increase or decrease the development cost. Having the right design will make the application usable, provide the best experience and become visually appealing. Below explained are the different parts of the application design that can alter the cost of development.
    • User Experience: Having an excellent user experience of an application ensures that it is easy to use for the users. It can be improved by designing the application, creating the screens, button placement, and improving the overall ergonomics of the application. Accomplishing all these tasks requires in-depth research and excellent code development which increases its cost. Keep in mind that the developer’s goal is to meet the business goal through the application without compromising the user experience of the application.
    • Visuals: Vision is considered one of the most important human senses as the majority of people try only those things which are visually appealing. In most cases, a user will only use the application if it appeals to them visually which is why developers try to add certain visual elements to the app. Similarly, these elements may vary depending on the application type, business goal, and target audience.

Development Team and their Cost Based on Location:

Many people have a misconception that mobile application development is a job of a single developer. However, the truth is that app development is a collaboration between several specialists who input their expertise in creating an application. The overall cost of the application development is hugely affected by the development team structure as well as their location. Here are all the significant members of an app development team and their approximate costs.

  1. UI/UX Designer: An application is not just about the features it provides, but it’s visually appealing factors as well. UI/UX designers play a key role in building an excellent application with intriguing elements. An experienced UI designer will analyze several applications that offer similar features and create a blueprint. Furthermore, they will also understand what the user wants and create the final application design accordingly. The hourly wage of a UI/UX developer in the US is approximately $45 to $50 whereas the same services can be attained at $15 -$25 from Europe and India. 
  2. Developers: A developer is a professional responsible for creating the application’s architecture, and functions. They work on different coding platforms and languages depending on their expertise. The number of developers required is directly related to the application’s complexity. When the application is complex, it may require a team of multiple developers. In addition, if the application will include payments and data storage functions, you may also require a backend developer who will handle the databases of the application. A cross-platform developer may charge $100 per hour in the US and $30-$50 in India and Europe. 
  3. Project Manager: As the name suggests, the project manager is the professional who will manage the entire project and coordinate with all the team members. Every project manager is responsible for accomplishing all the tasks within the budget and ensuring that the project is completed within the stipulated deadline. $100 is the cost of hiring a project manager in the US and $35-$50 is the per hour cost of hiring the same in India and Europe. 
  4. Quality Assurance Engineer: No matter how quickly the app is developed or how many features it comes with, if it is unable to maintain the overall quality, it will not sustain in this competitive market. This is the part where the QA engineer comes into play. This team member will ensure that the application’s final version maintains the set quality all the time. QA engineers monitor the technical documents, specifications, and testing of the application to accomplish their goal. Every QA engineer charges $50 per hour in the US and $20 per hour in India. 
  5. Business Analyst: The major players in the industry work with an outsourcing agency for application development. Business analysts are the professionals who will keep an eye on the development costs and technical requirements when you hire an outsourcing agency. They will perform certain tasks like collecting all the requirements, diagnosing any underlying problems with the process, determining the project value, studying the competition, and many other tasks. In the US, you may pay $150-$200 per hour for a project manager whereas you need to pay somewhere between $30-$60 in Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Mobile App Maintenance Cost :

The cost of building an application does not end at just development, but it requires frequent maintenance as well. The maintenance cost can increase when there are plans to scale the application in the future. Even if there is no plan for expanding the reach, the maintenance cost will rise with each passing year. App maintenance will include several tasks including frequent bug fixing, support for the latest operating systems, enhancing performance, optimizing the code, support for third-party services, and adding new features. Always remember that application maintenance is a recurring task and will add up to the overall cost of the application. With that in mind, it could be said that the effective costing of app development cannot be determined without considering the maintenance cost. In general, approximately 20 percent of the total development cost is allocated for its maintenance. However, the exact amount varies with the future plans regarding the application.

Total Cost of Mobile App Development:

Application development is a tedious and long process that can take somewhere between four to twelve months to complete. During this timeline, all the team members will perform their respective tasks. However, the number of hours and team structure varies with the application’s complexity which ultimately increases or decreases the total cost of app development. Simple application development will take nearly four months to complete. The team will include developers, QA specialists, business analysts, UI/UX designers, DevOps, project managers, and solution architects. Running the calculation on the hours required and based on per hour costs mentioned above, the approximate cost of developing a simple application in Europe could cost around $70K. 

Medium and complex applications take more than simple apps to complete and could be completed within six months and twelve months respectively. By undergoing the same calculations above, the development cost of a medium and complex application in Europe could be around $120K and $200K respectively. Keep in mind that these are only the approximate cost of the app development and the actual cost can vary with different aspects including the location, features, and complexity of the development process.

Options of Mobile Application Development:

Now that you have understood the estimated cost of application development, you should also be aware of the different options that you have to develop an application. The final cost will vary with the option that you pick. Here are all the different options that you have, allowing you to pick the right one as per your budget and preferences. 

  1. Employ a Local App Development Agency: The first option that you will have for app development is to hire a local agency from your region. Doing so will help you in maintaining constant communication with the team. Furthermore, you can keep an eye on the work progress whenever you want. However, you need to keep in mind that the cost will depend on your location. For instance, if you are based in the US, your overall development cost will be high. 
  2. In-House Team: Small companies prefer having an in-house app development team as they can work with the regular flow of ideas. Communication, quality, and budget will all be in your control, giving you a better reach towards development. When it comes to the cost of development, then you have to pay the salary to every member of the team. Though you will have excellent control over the process, the cost may be high as compared to other options.
  3. Outsourcing Application Development: Outsourcing the app development process is the most suitable and preferred method by large-scale industries. Several Asian countries like China and India have the lowest development costs, making them highly budget-friendly. Moreover, these nations are proven to be efficient in app development, ensuring high-quality applications with utmost accountability by the developers. The best thing is that no matter where your organization is based, the cost will be highly affordable as you are getting the best service from the most reasonably priced regions. However, communication can be a tussle so make sure to define timings for communication and transparency in the process.

Things to Consider While Picking an Mobile App Development Company:

Outsourcing an app development company is undeniably a cost-effective way of application development. However, there are certain considerations to make before picking an app development company to ensure that both you and the company remain on the same page during the development process. Below are the factors that you should keep in mind while picking an IT company for app development.

  1. Define Your Requirements: Before you go any further in getting the right app development company, defining what you are looking for should be the first thing to do. You need to determine your requirements, features you want, budget, platform, and the deadline to complete the development. Once you are clear on the goal, it becomes easier to find a company that aligns with your ideas. 
  2. Pick All Rounder Companies: When you plan to outsource app development, you would prefer to have every service from a single company rather than working with multiple companies. Not only does it make it easier for you, but helps in maintaining communication as well. Make sure that you pick full-service companies who provide the expertise of all different professionals at the same pace; be it designing or developing the application. 
  3. Monitor the Company’s Portfolio: A company’s previous work will give you an idea of what your work could look like. Research the company’s portfolio and lookout for some of the best applications that they have developed recently. Try to understand whether their apps look the way you want your app to be. If you believe that the company can help you bring your idea to the application, it may be a green signal to hire the company. 
  4. Understanding their Privacy Policy: Data is the most sensitive thing in the present time. While working with an app development company, you will be sharing your data. Due to this reason, you need to make sure that you understand their data and privacy policy so that your data remains secure all the time. Apart from that, signing a non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement with the company will legally bind them to keep your data secure. 

How ThinkSys Inc Develops Applications?

ThinkSys Inc is one of the pioneers in mobile application development due to its effective approach to the app development process. Starting by connecting with you, we begin the process by understanding what your expectations are regarding your mobile application.

  • In this process, it is best that the client shares all necessary ideas and information about the application to ensure utmost collaboration. In this part, you will also attain an approximate cost of development. 
  • The next step is the planning phase where our professionals will analyze your business and technical requirements and write the specifications. Furthermore, we will also create wireframes and make necessary alterations in the plans depending on your feedback. Planning is the phase where you will get in-depth details about the project regarding the development and completion estimate. 
  • The third phase is the product development phase where the actual application creation work will take place. Our designers will follow the plan of action created earlier and start by designing the UI/UX of the application. Once it is done, the next step in this phase is the development and testing of the application. Here our developers will implement all the codes and test out the application to eradicate any underlying issues and bugs so that the application remains stable. When the application is approved after testing, it becomes ready for release. Whenever you want to develop an application or have a potential idea, just connect with ThinkSys to bring your application idea to reality.

The exact time required to develop an application is based on its complexity and the features it provides. A simple application could be created within four months whereas a medium application can take nearly six to eight months to complete. The longest time required is for the development of complex applications which is nearly twelve months or more.

Even though the development cost of Android and iOS applications is almost the same, the cost increases when the user decides to go for native applications for both platforms. Doing so will consume twice the time, hence the cost doubles as well.

No matter how good an application is at release, it will not sustain in the market without maintenance. Application maintenance includes several crucial tasks like bug fixing, new version releases, analyzing and continual revaluation of the application. All these factors make app maintenance mandatory for long-term growth.

Yes, application development from other countries is entirely safe. However, make sure to follow the aforementioned factors to get the right application development company.

Absolutely. Despite the niche of the business, if the application supports its business model, it can have an application. It all depends on the motive of the application and how it can help in solving the users’ problems. If it has a purpose of existence, then any business can have an application.

Startups are small-scale businesses but have the potential to become big. When it comes to applications for startups, then they can also have applications based on their budget. Certain startups have a lesser budget so they can go for small applications while others who have a hefty budget and want to offer tons of features can go for medium or complex applications.

Though the actual maintenance cost may vary depending on the maintenance type, the expected cost is approximately 15%-20% of the total development cost of the application.

Presently, there are only two popular platforms for applications; Android and iOS.

The publishing cost of an application depends on the platform on which it is published. Google Play Store charges a one-time $25 fee for releasing an application and takes a 15% share in all in-app purchases. On the other hand, Apple App Store charges an annual fee of $99 and takes a 30% share in all in-app purchases for the first twelve months and a 15% share post twelve months.

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