Wondering how much app development would cost your business? Or the basis on which this cost depends? You’ve come to the right place. In this blog, we will cover everything about app development costs in detail for you to get a great mobile app within the just-right budget.
“How much money would it cost to build a mobile app for my business?”
“What is the app development cost breakdown?”
“Why is one mobile app developer charging me more than the other?”
When you search for questions like these on the internet, you are flooded with plenty of pages putting across all kinds of information. Some may go deep down around the entire app development process & pricing. Others may merely scratch the surface. On top of that, each gives you varying pieces of data & information, adding the mountain to your confusion.
The result of the whole exercise?
You are exactly where you started off in your quest; only more overwhelmed.
To tell you the truth, the cost of your app development project is highly variable. While a simple mobile app may cost you anywhere around $10K - $40K, a complex one with advanced functions can cross a whopping $200,000 and even more.
Why this gap, you ask?
Because there are not one or two but multiple factors at work that make up your total app development expenses, what these factors are and how they influence the pricing, we will explore all that and more through this blog.
To begin, let’s first find out:
» How Much App Development Costs Around the World?
There are about 3.48 million and 2.22 million mobile apps on Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store, respectively, as of the 1st quarter of last year, according to Statista’s research. Each app on these platforms has different sets of users, features and use cases. While some are basic apps, like calculators, some are gaming apps with immersive UI & outstanding graphics. That is one of the primary reasons behind app development budget fluctuations.
Let’s break it down into widely popular app types to understand this pricing point better.
Basic Mobile App Development Cost
One of the cheapest of the lot, the basic mobile applications are low on the complexity level and high on development speed. Such apps can be built in around a month due to their simple requirements, for instance, minimal to nil network connection and seemingly breezy back-end interface.
Examples include a To-Do List, Calculator, Notes and Clocks.
Approximate cost to build a basic app: $5,000 to $15,000
Data-driven Mobile App Development Cost
Data-driven mobile applications are the ones that have to work with a lot of data: collect the data, analyze the same, process it, and share the information with users. Such data can be transactional, spatial, sensory, or in the form of documents. These apps are more complex than the basic ones as they often pull data from multiple sources and offer real-time functionality. It can take up to 2 months to build data-driven apps.
Examples include Maps, Calendars, Trackers, and Weather Solutions.
Approximate cost to build a data-driven app: $10,000 to $20,000
Gaming Mobile App Development Cost
Did you know the duration between October 2020 and March 2021 saw people aged 45 or more worldwide spend roughly 20 minutes on their mobiles using gaming apps? That substantiates how popular mobile gaming is, making it a lucrative app development option. Mobile game apps, as we know, require extensive features with rich visuals and powerful performance to provide an engaging experience.
Many gaming app development companies also add 2D/3D objects with strong narratives for users to get immersed into a beautiful, fictional world over and over.
Examples include Candy Crush, Pokemon GO, PUBG, and Homescapes.
Approximate cost to build a gaming app: $35,000 to $250,000
Social Media Mobile App Development Cost
Social networking apps need no introduction. From enabling users to communicate with each other through messages, comments and calls to sharing pictures and information, these apps pack in almost everything to help us stay connected with our loved ones. No matter where they are. And such a wholesome set of functions and features requires robust back-end support, which, in turn, increases your app development budget.
Examples include Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Snapchat.
Approximate cost to build a social media app: $50,000 to $300,000
e-Commerce Mobile App Development Cost
With an increase in online shopping, starting an e-commerce mobile application makes complete sense. Such apps either tend to be a one-stop destination for online shopping or focus on one niche to attract consumers. Since these apps are extensive in nature, they offer a plethora of products across the range. Not to forget the secure payment options and personalized offers & discounts. As a result, it often takes about 6-9 months for the development process to complete.
Approximate cost to build an e-Commerce app: $50,000 to $300,000
Cost of Apps with Personalized Data & User Authentication
Widely known as authentication apps, the aim of these mobile applications is to provide a seamless experience to users across devices. The app would collect & store data which the user can easily sync on other devices they use for a more personalized feel. Since these types of mobile apps deal with sensitive information, it packs in greater security mechanism too.
Building an authentication app can take about 2-6 months, depending on the level of complexity.
Examples include McDonald’s Loyalty App.
Approximate cost to build an authentication app: $40,000+
On-Demand Mobile App Development Cost
We’re living in an instant service era where we receive the services we book within a few minutes, with just a few taps on our screen. Be it a cab, our meals or groceries.
Such apps, known as on-demand mobile apps, act as a bridge connecting users with service providers to solve user problems immediately. An on-demand app requires a powerful backend infrastructure, along with an easy-to-use consumer-centric design. It can roughly take around 4-9 months to build this kind of application.
Approximate cost to build an on-demand app: $70,000 to $150,000
Marketplace Mobile App Development Cost
A marketplace app blends the functionalities of e-commerce apps with that of on-demand mobile apps. Through these apps, users get to browse through a range of diverse services offered by different service providers on a single platform. That enables them to compare all the available offerings and prices hassle-freely. Furthermore, the app allows users to directly connect with any of the listed service providers & request their services, making things even simpler.
Given the extensive features, the development duration of a marketplace app can take around 5-9 months.
Approximate cost to build a marketplace app: $100,000 to $300,000
» What are the Standard App Development Rates across the World?
Whether it is commodities, public transport or consumer goods, we know how the pricing of goods and services varies from organization to organization, as well as country to country.
Similar is the case with your app development cost estimates.
Let’s say you reach out to two different mobile app development companies. One operates in the United States and the other from India. When they send an initial quote for your app development requirements, you may notice a significant difference in the total estimated cost. And that’s not only due to your app type. But also because the app development cost per hour in India differs from that of the US. If you request a quote from mobile app developers in the UK, you might get another variation in the quotation.
The point to note here is the change in app development cost based on the region your app developers operate from. It can either lower or inflate your entire budget.
Want to know what app development cost looks like in various regions?
The following pricing table will give you a rough idea:
|Region||Android App ($ per hour)||iOS App ($ per hour)|
|United States (USA)||50 - 150||50 - 150|
|United Kingdom (UK)||70 - 120||70 - 120|
|India||26 - 35||25 - 35|
|Australia||40 - 120||50 - 120|
|Eastern Europe||30 - 50||30 - 50|
|Western Europe||80 - 100||80 - 100|
|Indonesia||30 - 35||30 - 35|
Notice how the price per hour changes considerably?
The best app developers in India or Europe may charge you much less for the same services which cost a whopping amount in North America.
That’s why it is equally vital to keep the region of your app development team in mind while planning your app’s budget.
» Factors that Affect App Development Cost
In our quest for app development cost breakdown, it’s time to dig deeper into the diverse aspects that influence the overall cost big time.
Type of Your App
Are you building a hybrid mobile app?
Or is it going to be a cross-platform one?
Or you have made up your mind about going ahead with a native mobile application for starters?
Finding answers to these questions is critical since your decision will either make you shell out a few additional thousand dollars or save them. However, choosing between native vs cross-platform vs hybrid apps vs PWAs can be a tough road. And it all eventually comes down to your app idea and target users.
Understanding through examples
As we explored in the above section, developing a simple app, say a torch app, for example, would only need basic programming. And hence, a minimum budget.
On the other hand, a complex app like an on-demand food delivery app would need a plethora of functions. For instance, live geolocation access, push notifications, payment gateway integration, and data sync across devices. All of that, as a bunch, will make developing your app an expensive and prolonged affair.
Or a straightforward business app for smoother internal operations is going to be way cheaper than a dating app or any consumer-centric app.
But that’s not it. The category of your app is also as crucial in finalizing its cost.
Wait. What do you mean by app categories?
App categories are nothing but the broad genres your app belongs to in the app store. A few examples of app categories are Music, Games, Finance, Productivity, Health & Fitness, Business, and Education.
Let’s assume you have a music streaming app worth about $60K, which features under the app store’s Music category. Now, consider you decide to add video streaming functionality, as well as gaming, to that app so that your app gets listed in all three genres: Music, Video & Games.
While doing so may appear like a lucrative business idea on paper, it is everything but practical. Because it would not only lead to an exorbitant development cost but also confuse (& overwhelm!) your target users. Plus, it could take forever to build such an extensive app.
Hence, it is important to stick to the category you initially set out for your app. Refining your app with more features is great as long as you keep it interesting & relevant to your target audience’s needs.
Features & Functionality
We already discussed how the level of complexity, along with the number of features & functions of your mobile application, is going to drive its total cost. The simpler the logic, the easier the development and the cheaper the cost. So, for apps that use basic features and specific device components, such as a camera or flashlight, development becomes both faster more and cost-effective.
For apps that require complicated features, your app development service providers have to either resort to third-party APIs or write code from scratch. That turns the development process trickier, lengthier and more expensive.
Simply put, aspects such as the number of screens, buttons, in-app navigation, and data collection methods of your app are all going to affect the final numbers.
Wondering what sort of app features/functionalities fall in which price range?
Let’s take a look at the general price bracket.
› Cost breakdown: Basic Mobile App Features
|Features||Approximate Cost in USD
(assuming per hour cost is $40 - $50)
|Login - (email, forgot password, social media login, logout)||1000 - 1700|
|File uploads (images, documents, videos)||700 - 1300|
|Search||500 - 800|
|Profile creation with editing||1000 - 3500|
|Push notifications||900 - 1200|
|Basic admin panel (custom updates)||200 - 600|
› Cost breakdown: Complex Mobile App Features
|Features||Approximate Cost in USD
(assuming per hour cost is $40 - $50)
|Maps||1400 - 5000|
|Payments||2500 - 5550|
|Calling functions (audio/video & contact list access)||8000 - 15000|
|Streaming||3000 - 7000|
|Admin panel for user management||1000 - 4000|
|Admin panel for payments management||2000 - 5000|
|Messaging (with file sharing)||6000 - 8000|
What we have listed above are only some of the popular features a typical basic or complex app offers. You have to keep in mind that your app may or may not need them.
At the same time, don’t forget to keep a buffer budget aside for any unforeseen modifications, future additions to the existing set of features, and regular app updates to improve its functionality. It would help arrive at a near-accurate final estimate.
The Development Method of Your App
We briefly brought up hybrid, native, web and cross-platform types of app development methods earlier in the above section. Now, your selection of one out of these development methodologies plays a crucial role in determining the cost of your app. Let’s explore how.
› Native App Development
It refers to building an app solely for one platform, for instance, Android or iOS. Such apps are scalable and leverage the inherent device capabilities, such as camera and GPS, in their entirety. That enhances app performance while offering a great user experience. And since you get seamless access to code libraries, APIs and other platform tools, the development becomes a smoother process.
From the cost point of view, native apps turn out to be expensive. You may need to shell out about $100,000 for a native app. Moreover, if you want your app to work on diverse operating systems, you would need to build separate applications. That, in turn, increases your budget even more.
› Hybrid App Development
Hybrid apps are a mix of web apps and native apps. You can use web technologies to develop a hybrid app while leveraging the native components of the devices at the same time. These apps, with their central codebase and hassle-free customizations, offer faster time-to-market and cheaper app development & maintenance costs.
› Cross-Platform App Development
With cross-platform app development, you are able to release your mobile app on diverse app stores with ease. In other words, a cross-platform app would work well on both Apple and Android devices. Like hybrid apps, cross-platform apps also have a single codebase, making the development process faster, more scalable and less expensive.
› Web Apps
A web app, like hybrid and cross-platform ones, relies on a centralized code that works across platforms and devices. Built using common web technologies, a web app can optimally use distinct device hardware functions to offer users maximum performance and personalized experience. Such apps have a faster time to market and are cheaper to build as well as maintain.
The Platform of Your App
Are you building an Android app? Or does an iOS app match well with your app idea? Or do you want to target users on both of these operating systems?
This is the fundamental dilemma every business faces while mapping its app development journey.
While there are no significant differences in the cost of a native iOS or Android mobile application, the pricing increases 2x if you want two separate apps for these two platforms. That’s when going for a cross-platform or hybrid app makes for a smart decision. Opt for a cross-platform app development framework, Flutter, for example, and you’d be able to save time and lower the development cost by up to 40%.
The Team Building Your App & Its Location
Are you going to build your own app?
If your answer is a “No”, you will obviously hire professional app developers for the task. And needless to say, the total app development cost would vary based on the team you select, along with its location.
Wondering what are your options?
› Freelance App Developers or Independent Contractors
The market is filled with independent contractors and freelancers offering quality mobile app development services at affordable rates. If you have a tight app budget and a simple app with a low complexity level, hiring a freelance app developer or contractor seems a fruitful option. Their fees may fall in the range of $1000 - $15000.
› DIY App Building Tools
Want to build a mobile app on your own? Fortunately, there are many do-it-yourself app-building tools available in the market, enabling you to create apps with zero technical or coding knowledge. Packed with ready-made templates and robust functions, such platforms offer enough personalization. The best part? These tools can cut your app development costs by 60% - 70%.
Thus, if your app is thoroughly simple by logic and you have a low budget, it is good to go with a DIY app builder, such as Builder.ai & BuildFire.
› Small-Scale App Development Companies or Startups
Small app development companies make for a great choice for niche apps. For example, a restaurant app, a business app, or an e-commerce app. The charges may be a bit more than what an independent contractor/freelancer may quote. But the agency would bring its elaborate experience to the table, boosting the chances of success of your app. To give you a rough idea, the cost may fall in the range of $60K to $400,000. It all depends on the size of the team and your app’s requirements and complexity.
› Established App Development Companies
Whether you have a complex app idea or need a graphics-rich gaming app, getting a big app development company onboard proves to be the best option. While that would require a big budget, about $100,000+, to say the least, it would also ensure out-and-out white-glove app development services, right from the initial planning stage to the launch phase. And since you’ll be working with experts with years of experience, it will only help refine your app idea, making the large investment worth it.
» Hidden App Development Cost Components
What we discussed so far has covered the costs of app development based on the app type, features, development methods and the team building your app. Apart from that, there are several hidden factors that end up affecting your app budget in more ways than one. What those factors are, let’s find out.
Not all app developers wear the hat of a mobile app designer. Thus, you may need to hire a dedicated professional to design your app, resulting in added costs. The expense to hire this service that often includes visual, UX and icon design & branding can cost anywhere between $1000 - $10,000.
However, if you hire an app development agency, you won’t need to pay separately for app design since the company includes this service in its package.
App Administration Services
Even when you hire the best app development company to build your app, you would not want to run to them every time you want minor changes in your app. Hence, it is imperative to add specific features that not only give you control over the app but are also easy to use.
Such functions may include:
- User profile management
- Content management
- A single dashboard to manage various app tasks/services
- Data segmentation
- Updates & alerts
- Access control
The costs of these features may vary with individual app requirements. But having these add-ons makes it simpler for you to handle the day-to-day administrative tasks at your end. Besides, it lowers the total service costs you need to pay your developers.
Based on your app project, you may need a Quality Analyst to ensure your app runs smoothly without any errors. Moreover, you may also require a project manager and/or business analyst to complete the project on time and within budget. That adds to your overall mobile app expenses.
Once your app is out there, there is a constant need to attract new users and retain the engagement level of the existing ones. To accomplish this, you may require a set of functions, such as chat and socials, push notifications, SMS alerts and email marketing. Integrating all these services may incur additional recurring expenses, which may raise your overall app budget by roughly around $500 to $2500.
Infra or infrastructure services refer to the technical aspects of your app, including servers, data storage facility and a content delivery network (CDN). Since these factors make for an essential part of your app, it is difficult to do away with the extra costs that often add thousands of dollars to your annual app budget.
Support & Maintenance
App maintenance services spell ongoing costs for your business. From platform-specific regular updates to modifications in your third-party APIs to bug-fixing to continual technical support & maintenance, it includes everything that helps keep your app performance top-notch & uninterrupted.
Assume an estimate of approximately $20,000 to $40,000 as maintenance cost to your overall annual app expenses.
What are the average app development costs? It is the first question which clouds your mind when you decide to get an app for your business. While a plain app can cost as low as $10,000, an app like Facebook, Uber or DoorDash can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In this blog, we explored the different factors that drive total app development expenses. From the type of your app to your app development team to the region of your app developers to your chosen platform to admin & maintenance costs, there are multiple components that require your attention as you draw up your app budget. Luckily, there are many mobile app development cost calculators in the market to make your budget forecasting easier.
Eventually, though, it all comes down to your distinct app idea, requirements and business goals.