How Much Does It Cost To Build a Mobile App

Successful mobile app development begins with a great idea and a solid business and marketing plan. The app market has witnessed a boom in past four years as the usage of mobile apps in 2014 rose by 76%. The average US consumer downloaded 8.8 Apple iOS and Android apps within a month. Apple now has access to 90% of US based credit cards with the initiation to Apple Pay. Even ecommerce websites are focusing more on mobile commerce (m-commerce).  According to the New York Times, “the mobile industry is now valued at more than $1.6 trillion. It’s expected to spike to a multi-trillion dollar industry in the next ten years”. Because of this, the app market has seen lot of intense competition compared to its past. Also, because of the ever increasing competition in the market, developers of mobile apps are now focusing more on those apps that add value. In order to  avoid malware, bugs and to make it easy for consumers to download an app, the rules and regulations of both Google play store  and Apple store have now become stricker.

Let’s talk about what goes into getting an app developed. There are many different kinds of apps you can develop and the basic categories of app types you can create are:

  • Basic Table Functionality– Take it as a hierarchy: as the screen opens, it has big topics and you click one and you now have a set of new lists to click on. While designing and making, it is uncomplicated and is a good choice for businesses that requires a “simple” app by which basic information is shown.
  • Database Driven Custom Functionality– It is the best to describe creatively parsing out content. Imagine you have a whole load of content that you want to utilize. For instance a person has a collection of stamps that he wishes to organize and exhibit in a different manner. In order to make the  mobile app actually work this can be shown apart from the format of basic table. Though on this app, the development becomes intricate.
  • Games– Beginning from simple type functionality to 3D physics engine that enables car racing, games have the biggest range of intricacies. Everything is possible from scoring points, including the experience of user by device’s physical movement and hooking into Game Center.
  • Enhancement or Modification of the device firmware or hardware– This means improving some functions of the phone, such as the alarm, camera, or flash.
  • Fully dynamic apps– Like the apps run by database, these apps are the sorts that rely completely on external information – Twitter, Weather Channel, Flipboard.
  • Custom utilities– These are apps that are geared towards enabling the user to input content in a specific way.

App Development Process:

1. The Idea

At inception an overall project plan is created describing  what the app will be doing – simple information, a game, interactive, etc. The first stage is to present details about your app category, functionality , budget and marketing effort.


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2. Functionality Layout

Simply drawing lines for a developer  are not going to provide what you want. Either to go through the details you require putting in a whole lot of time or getting a person who can create detailed project specs for the developers and vice versa. This step also requires going through each and every screen and describing the interaction of all parts of the app.

3. Design

Just like websites, for apps, one requires a team of professionals including a developer,  designer,  graphics artist,  copywriter and marketing personnel.  But always remember this: user interface design and user experience  can make or break an app.

4. Going Live

After your app is ready, your developer will assist you to get an app in the Android and Apple app store and eventually get it approved. Once your app is in the store, you can check the analytics such as the number of downloads, how much money you are making, etc. There are various ways to drive revenue with apps that includes ability to buy additional information through the app ads inside the app.

iPhone App Development Costs:

iPhone app development tackles the programming side of the process. Its price can vary depending on the devices you are making for – basic iPhone, iPhone 4, iPhone5, iPhone 6, iPad or all of the above.

  • Simple, table based app $1,000-4,000 – In this you give all the content, clear direction, and example apps of it should do. The additional costs are when you want to GPS locators, Social media integration or other similar features including a custom user interface .
  • Framework based  apps – Xamarin, phonegap, – $8,000-$50,000 – Same as before you give all the content, image, writing, sound, etc. The price will be determined from making the logic within the app and planning all the usability or game play. These projects are front heavy as what’s driving the entire app  is the data and the framework is vital.
  • Native code – $10,000-$250,000 – No matter how much you work to keep them super simple, games quickly get complicated. What can be hard is getting them to be popular,  marketing , and engaging with an online community. The advantage of a game is that they are downloaded in comparatively large number. Something to keep in mind for your ROI is an app gone viral!
  • Additional Includes:
    • In-App Purchasing – $1,000-$3,000– this enables the users to purchase new content or full versions of the apps. The cost spread comes from the amount of in-app purchasing and either you build or didn’t into the first app or if you are doing it from a server.
    • Web Services – $1,000-$5,000– Rather than raw code changes this is bringing the content to a remote access point so that you can update your app with an XML files.
    • Game Center – $1,000– Apple’s done a commendable work at making this integration swift with the SDK. You can integrate easily till the time you keep the numbers clean,.
    • Share Capabilities – $500-$1,500– This is generally for social media (Twitter, Facebook) and emailing, but there can be other integrations. To make it work good several options and these platforms have robust APIs.
    • SDKs and like Chartboost– $50-$200 – SDKs are a paramount part of tracking our apps and making money through them.  Generally you can get any SDK integrated at cheaper price, but it’s expensive when you’re specific with your SDKs.  SDKs that you may wish to include are:  Google Analytics, Chartboost, Applovin, Xplode, AdMob, and Tapjoy.

iPhone App Design Costs:

The design of your app is going to make a huge difference in your overall ROI and user experience. The design will help convert viewers to downloads from the screenshots you decide to upload and will help people using your app feel more engaged. Find a mobile app designer who knows user flow and the space restrictions and invest in him/her as it is a great step to increase your margins on a 2 year timeline. Generally app designs come in packages – you will buy a “suite” of .png and PSD files that fulfill all your needs.

Here’s a rough breakdown of costs:

  • iPhone only(usually the base line is not done for the retina display, as seen in the iPhone 4 as they require higher resolution files) – $500-10,000 – This will provide you a base level design that can be sent to the developer who will add these images into the code.
  • iPhone 6 Plus Compatible – Add 25% to above cost– these images will be sized at2208 x 1242px height (more than twice that of the 640×1136 iPhone 5)
  • iPad – Add 50% to above cost– this is assuming that the layout is very similar and user flow is also similar. In many cases you will have to create alternate functionality to accommodate for the iPad size and speed, which requires new designs.

Total App Costs:

You can get all-inclusive companies who will do everything for you that too in just $1,000 or so, but beware of the amount of control you will have over the app making process and most of all the quality. Think less of the price and more about what planning will provide the biggest ROI. Even though your app stays in the store for over a year, bringing its word and having some light marketing and analytics eyes on it can easily help pay for your investment. As the competition keeps building in the market, you’ll observe the cost coming down, but just be wary of the 19 year old high school student who can build you Angry Birds for $1,000.

 Please get in touch with us to discuss your mobile app project. Contact us today or call us now at 619-567-9322 for a FREE consultation.

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