The Cost of Creating an App

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I grew up without a cellphone. Watching it evolve to what it has become I wonder how did I ever survive all those years without one.  There seems to be an app for almost everything and anything.  Revenues in the App store reached over $28 billion last year. What if you have an idea for something new for people to use?  Let me help you break down what it will cost you to make an app and start making money for yourself.

Once you have an idea the first thing you need to figure out is who is going to build the app.  Who will build your app affects the cost about as much as the functionality it’s going to have. But while in app design, a cheap and simple minimum viable product works great; in choosing your developer, you have to be careful. Remember to research your developer to make sure you get a quality outcome. Cheaper is not always better.

Depending on the type of app you are looking to create the cost of creating an app will vary. There are 3 different technologies when creating an app.

  • ‘Native mobile app’ means the app was written in the same programming language as the platform for which the app is designed. For example, for iOS it’s Swift and for Android it’s Java. These apps are typically faster and more reliable. They have access to a phone’s features, such as its camera and address book. They’re usually more expensive than other apps.
  • Cross-platform apps: Cross-platform are like native apps, but they’re built using a combination of the web and native technologies that are distributed via a native app store. They run on both platforms, but don’t have access to phone features and can be quite problematic to design, as both platforms have different conventions.
  • Progressive web-apps: This is the latest technology by Google. It’s a web app that you can access through the browser but has most of the features and the feel of a native app. They’re extremely easy to install; you just visit the website and add it to the home screen. That fixes the leaky funnel of native apps which lose about 20% of new users in the process. They’re not supported on iOS, though.

Different apps mean different features. Depending on which and how many features you need will also contribute to how much you have to spend to make your app happen.

  • Simple apps: This would be an app with three or four screens that serve one basic function and don’t store any data. An example would be a calculator or a timer.
  • Database / API apps: If your app needs to store some data on the user’s device or a remote server, then you’ll need something more complex. If it requires users to register and sign in, sync data between multiple devices, or you have a lot of content to utilize, your app falls into this category.
  • Multi-Featured/Enterprise Apps: If you’re looking to offer several key features and a completely bespoke user interface design tailored to users’ needs, this is your category. The time frame and price can range based on the scope of the project.
  • Games: As it is with other apps, games vary in complexity and functionality and the price changes accordingly. In addition to app development, games require a high-quality user experience, storyboards, and mechanics that hook the user, which adds to the total cost.       You also have to take into account how many people are working on the app, how long will it take for that many to produce a finished product.  If you’ll looking to get it done in-house, the rates to hire a designer can vary a lot. Expect to pay at least $50 per hour on the lower end and up to $250 per hour for a senior UX designer. You can expect to pay up to $80,000 for a simple app. Basic database apps range from $100,000 – $150,000, while more advanced multi-feature apps will cost you $150,000 – $250,000. Games are hard to estimate as, based on quality, they can cost anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000+ depending of the complexity of the game. Then there are additional features that come into play. On top of the basic functionality, you may require some other features like email login or geolocation tracking. Other factors to take into account are design, copyright, branding and advertising.  You should also always have some aside for contingency. Just like in house renovations there is always going to be a problem or something will happen that will cost more than you originally planned for. Having some set aside for just such emergencies will be less stressful knowing you have the funds for this already.   Over all creating an app is no way easy or cheap.  Almost 60% of apps do not even make enough to break even.  Did they overspend in the wrong areas or not spend enough?  Data shows that the main difference is that the failed apps dedicate $0 dollars of total development costs to marketing and spend less than five percent of their time on sales and marketing activities.  In the App Store, to get noticed, you need to hit the charts and to hit the charts, you need to get a lot of users in a short period of time. Without paid marketing this will never happen.  To put more perspective into this, to build something as simple as Instagram or WhatsApp can cost you anywhere between $100,000 to $250,000.  For an app like Uber would require an investment of at least $1,000,000.


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We are influencers and brand affiliates.  This post contains affiliate links, most which go to Amazon and are Geo-Affiliate links to nearest Amazon store.