197 BILLION—that’s the number of mobile app downloads the world saw in 2017. At this current rate, we’ll see nearly three times as many downloads by 2021. That number isn’t so surprising when you consider to what degree smartphones, tablets, and the apps that populate them have become a part of our daily lives—we spend roughly 4 hours a day on our mobile devices, and nearly 90% of that time is on mobile apps. No matter how you slice the data, the metrics are clear—the mobile revolution is already underway, and if you want to take your digital marketing campaign to the next level, an app is your pass to the fast lane.
So how much does it generally cost for a business to build an app?
While it would be nice if there was a simple number, the truth is it depends on number of factors: the platforms you choose to support (iOS vs. Android), the team you’ll need to build, the technologies your team will wield, and the business model you’re ultimately trying to serve. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the common cost factors that go into building an app.
Before you can even begin to estimate the cost of building an app, you must first define where the app will fit into your overall business plan. How will this mobile app bring value to your existing business model? Will it be directly involved in generating new revenue through sales? Or is the app about providing utility to your customers to help you distinguish yourself from your competitors? What if the app itself is the primary product, and selling it is your business model? The unique needs of your business model will drive the type of app you want to build, the scope of your development project, and the technologies you’ll need to bring that project to life—all factors that directly weigh into the total cost off your project.
The technology tree you choose to base your mobile app development project will ultimately determine who you hire to build the app. Naturally this choice will have a major impact on the overall cost of your app.
It’s no secret that if you’re building a mobile app in today’s world, the two biggest ecosystems are Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Both platforms provide access to a large market of potential customers. If you’ve got the money and resources, it’s definitely in your interests to launch your product across both platforms. That said, there is nothing wrong with starting with the platform that best suits your needs, and expanding your customer base after you’ve made a nice return on your initial investment. To help you make that choice, here’s a brief breakdown of the pros and cons of each platform.
Pros of Android App Development
Cons of Android App Development
Pros of iOS App Development
Cons of iOS App Development
This is just a sampling of some of the common features that make-up everyday mobile apps. Other decisions like whether or not your app will be free or paid, if your app needs to be connected to the internet to work, and how much back-end support is needed to power your app’s data needs, all factor heavily into the cost and complexity of your app. To get a better feel for the kinds of decisions you need to make for a budget, feel free to play around with some of theses app development cost calculators:
When you really boil it down, the total cost of building an app is a product of your mobile development and design team’s hourly rates and development time. Depending on how your organization is structured, there will also be costs associated with things like administration, planning, infrastructure, marketing, and deployment. But for this section I wanted to focus on the ones actually building your application.
The Mobile Designer
Design matters, and people tend to buy with their eyes rather than their minds. Between the app with more functionality and the app with better visuals, the visuals will likely win…in the short term. In the long term, truly good design concerns itself with both form and function. User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design start with storyboards and interactive prototypes and ends with functional performant code. That’s why the role of mobile designer can be a separate and distinct role on any mobile app development team.
The Mobile Developer