So You Want a Mobile APP for Your Company?
Perhaps the biggest question for any business considering a Mobile APP – “How Much will a Mobile APP cost us?”
We have all heard stories about this or that APP costing hundreds of thousands to develop. A price range that is very hard for any small business, and many larger businesses still do not have one for this same reason. If that’s the price range, they will wait.
The fact is, APPs like many other technology come with many levels of coolness, the number of cool features can greatly affect the overall cost.
For Example: Let’s say you need a car to get to work. You can buy a new VW for $25,000 or a new Porsche for $120,000, both will get you where you need to go, and at roughly the same speed and comfort. Why choose to pay more?
In simple terms, the technology that makes Mobile APPs possible like other technology has been around a few years now, and it has developed through many generations.
Now it’s possible to make a great APP for $5,000. An APP that 5 years ago would have cost not less than $150,000 to develop and deploy. The same applies to Websites, at the start of the website revolution, a typical website cost a lot more to develop.
As a general rule the cost of your APP may be higher if the company you choose to build your APP has more invested in tools and documentation. Experts charge more, but tend to have less development issues. Other factors include the number of display screens your APP will have. More display screens, more time and tweaking to develop.
Likewise, Support for Multiple Mobile Screen Resolutions (Smartphones, Phablets and Tablets), Ecommerce and In-App Purchases options, Complex Animation, Integration with the Third Party APIs, Offline Support needs, Server-side Application Programming, Multi-platforms, Multi-devices, OS versions, etc.
Native-APP vs. Hybrid-APP vs. a Snap-APP
Like all computer languages, Mobile APP development languages have evolved into higher function Hybrid-APP development systems. In the latest generation, we now have Snap-APP solutions, where common functions are added by drag-and-drop selection, then customized for the target business.
As we move from the Native APP / Expensive – to- Hybrid APP / Medium Cost – to – Snap-APP / Low Cost solutions, the development costs drop radically.
Today, the cost to develop a Mobile APP is more heavily affected by the complexity of the functions and features you need or want and the platform (iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry, Kindle, etc.).
If you can accomplish your goals with a collection of more common functions, then a Snap-APP / Low Cost solution can be the perfect answer for your company.
If you need or want a bunch of special integrations, or special functions, you could be looking at a Native-APP solution. The same would be true for your Website. So read a bit more to follow.
Before we nail the cost, let’s be clear the difference between the development options:
Development = 10 – 18 Mo. / Cost $165,000 -to- $500,000
This is where the first APPs came from, and still you can choose to develop your APP using the ‘Native Language’ of the target platform, ie; iPhone, Android, etc. Using this method you must develop each platform separately, so cost is nearly twice any alternative. Also, this is considered ‘hardcode’ programing and requires a very serious programer(s). Development time will average 10-18 months. Cost will average $250,000 or more.
Development = 6 – 12 mo. / Cost $25,000 -to- $150,000
The second evolution of Mobile APPs, the Hybrid-APP is a collection of standard code snips that are available to a Native-APP shell. If your business can reach it’s goals using standard APP functions, this can work for you and will generally allow for a great degree of flexibility in the addition of custom features as well. Cost will commonly average $150,000+ for larger companies with demanding functions and features, and substantially lower from $25,000 to $75,000 for smaller companies.
Development = 7 – 45 Days / Cost $2,500 -to- $5,000
The fifth generation development option is the Snap-APP approach. Here the final APP is limited greatly to a limitation of possible functions. In short, this similar to a Hybrid-APP with fewer options to customize the final product. That said, the final product is not easy to distinguish by any end user of the APP. This is the fastest and cheapest development solution.
Startup APP Development Costs
Another reason we still hear big numbers for APP development is due to the larger number of Startup companies that base an entire company around the development of an APP. Naturally, this is a quite different thing that developing an APP for an existing small business.
In this case, the subject APP likely has functions that are highly specialized and must be developed and debugged for a specific function set that makes the company goals possible. An example of this might be Instagram, where the website integrated Phone APP was the primary product released to kickstart the company.
An expert, Jason Calacanis recently posted on this topic. He suggested that the typical Startup with this thinking should raise at least $750,000 for first round (ie; 18 mo.). He stated that this is not all about the cost of the APP however. He includes operational funds, legal costs, a development team, and about 4-6 months time to develop.
Net, net, he suggests that a v1.0 Startup APP will run between $140,000 and $200,000. Instagram burned up $500,000 on the new APP and backend of their APP, not including Android development costs. That said, ff you want a complex user interface, or need a serious backend development. Your looking at up to $1,500,000. ~ Calacanis
APP Hosting + Maintenance
Once you release an APP, there are ongoing costs associated with keeping it online and updated, etc. Remember, it’s absolutely your top concern that you maintain a user friendly and functional APP. Fail this, and the endeavor is pointless.
The most important regular concern is OS updates. Companies like Apple, update the iOS requirements frequently and your APP will require an update to match. Maintenance and update costs generally hover around $500.00 per month.
Hosting: To enable downloads, you will require a server to host your APP. If your APP is popular, the cost of hosting will be increased with the number of downloads and subsequent updates needed. As a starting point, with a Daily User Access of 10-20k users, you can expect approx $100.00 for Amazon AWS (complex to use), other solutions run $400.00 month or more. It would vary based on the complexity of computations and the storage space the app requires to service demand.
- The number of active users;
- Traffic burst requirements;
- Average computing power;
- Required storage needs;
- Network io requirements;
- Number of open sockets;
Like any business venture, developing and releasing your own APP, you should factor inevitable hosting and maintenance costs.
Now that you know there are different paths to the same goal.
The question is, why pay more?
So, the lengthy details above can be simplified. If your business is like most. You probably don’t need all the bells and whistles. Odds are, your business will do great with a Snap-APP solution.
You likely do not need custom functions outside those a Snap-APP can deliver.
Wanna Learn More?
If your the kind that wants deeper answers or just loves to read. The following is a collection of articles from various sources. Yep, even from our competition who will build you far more expensive APPs that we will generally advise.
Once you have considered the higher priced options, and decide you just want to get your APP in the market as fast and as reasonable as possible, we’ll still be here waiting to serve you.
- Mobile App Development Cost and Process
- Native vs Hybrid / Hybrid App Development
- Mobile app backend hosting cost calculator – (very cool)
- HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO RUN AN APP?
- How Much Does an App Cost – Savvy APPs
- APP Hosting Considerations – Nethosting.com
- How Much Does It Cost to Build a Mobile App? – BuildFire
- What Separates a $10,000 App from a $100,000 App?
- Android vs iOS: Which platform to build for first?