How much does it cost to develop a mobile app? Our sales team receives this question frequently in reference to creating apps like Facebook, Uber, Tinder and others. The truth is that depending on your app’s features and scope, your application cost can vary wildly. Many customers have yet to sit down and specify every piece of functionality that they wish to include in their app.
When it comes to apps, marketing rules still apply. When creating an app, you must think of it as a product. What is your offer? How will you be pricing your app? Your price policy should be both attractive to your users, and cover your expenses in developing the app.
A mobile app is not only a development story. It is all about reasons, resources, value and strategy. Usually, the price to develop an app splits into development costs and support costs – things like maintenance, promotion, sales and support. The average cost to develop an app, then, is only approximately 30-50% of your total cost. The other 50-70% goes into post-development support.
When you are ready to start developing your app, you have to be very specific about which features to include and how they will be developed. For example, saying “I want an app like Facebook,” there are a variety of sub-features which may or may not need to be included. Within the context of Facebook’s overall operations, the mobile app is only one part.
Want another Facebook? Great! Let’s take a look at Facebook’s timeline, with its initial funding round of $500K. Counting 30-50% from this first investment, we may get an approximate price for development of an app – $150K to $250K.
This is the approximate cost to start up a “Facebook-like” app with all of the same features. Can you afford it? And perhaps more importantly, can you afford to nurture the app through marketing, promotion and support? Do you have a long-term plan?
Let’s take a look at the Uber case for another example. This actually refers to the application bundle, including a website, the consumer app, a private driver’s app, and a manager’s app. Uber’s seed round raised $200K. If you apply the 30-50% rule, you get $60K-$100K. This may be the price to develop an app like Uber.
On the marketing side, you may have heard of safety and legal issues relating to Uber and analog services. You may also be aware of an increasing number of Uber competitors saturating the market. Are you able to face that challenge to its full extent? Do you have enough resources for that, while still having some left over to support the app?
One last case is the example of Tinder. Here numbers range from $75K to $125K for mobile application development. Most dating applications of this kind need to face creation of a matching algorithm, quite a puzzling task. From a marketing point of view, the engagement of female users is also a headache. So is your monetization strategy – Will you charge a subscription fee, or have in-app purchases? What offer will keep your users coming back after the first date?
The bottom line is, apps can be expensive. So what should you do? Don’t drop your idea. Instead, start your project, but know what to expect. Start researching early, define your goals and audience, and settle the requirements and functionality required early. You’ll even want to think over your app’s UX.
If you do decide to start development, we suggest beginning with a Minimum Viable Product, which is aimed at answering a number of vital questions: whether you are solving the real problem with your application, and if users are ready to accept your app as a solution.
After you begin, there are several core stages your app will go through during development. Your efforts will be distributed in non-equal shares during the project lifecycle. With our app development experience, we gathered the statistics on activities and created a chart for your reference. See how your efforts might be split between the various stages of development.
To help you plan your needs ahead of time, we have developed an online tool to provide you with rough estimates of your MVP. With our calculator, you can quote a cost of mobile app development for iOS and Android devices. Start with simple questions based on details and factors important for your product creation, such as platform selection, UX creation, business model, etc. Every answer limits the scope and narrows the target of your app by influencing initial cost of development. Now you will be able to see how much it costs to develop an app within 2 minutes or less.
No service can tell you for sure how much it will cost to develop a custom app. With the experience we have gained, we can say that a custom-developed MVP may take 3,5-4 months of development time and require a budget of $10K-20K per platform unless it is a very basic app.
We see application creation as an interactive process, where you can define the minimal set of features, release an app, test your market fit and how users receive your product. Once you gather first feedback, you can proceed with next iterations focusing on market needs. At the same time, there is always something that stands in between you and successful product — the first step, which you can make now.