So you have the next great app idea and want to know how much money it's going to take to develop the app.
Well you have stumbled upon the best article among the other 1,640,000,000 search results on Google for the term "how much does it cost to make an app?".
Our company Grand Apps has launched over 500+ app and web projects over the last 8 years and we know a few things about the costs of building a mobile app.
Clutch did a survey back in 2015 titled: "Cost to Build a Mobile App: A Survey".
Lowers costs were around $38,000, with higher development costs upwards at $171,000.
Below is a chart breaking down these two average costs of app development with phase breakdowns. *Note the hourly rate is at $100 & $150. Hourly rates can vary per company.
Again, these are all cost averages based on who is developing it and what the project scope is.
I love breaking app development down into a simple analogy that most people understand.
Think about building a house. Would you walk up to a general contractor and say "I have home idea, what is the cost?". They would stare at you puzzled because they have no information. How many square foot do you want? How many rooms? What kind of finishes?
Chances are you that you would not do this and building a mobile app is no different from building a home.
We have built minimal viable product apps (MVP's) around $10,000 for iOS and Android before. Again, it all depends on the size of your project.
Also consider the costs after development, while still factoring in (on top of those averages of $38k - $170k).
You really need to factor budgeting out app upkeep. You will need to make sure the backend is running and functioning smoothly. You will want to monitor security and have teams in place in case anything goes wrong (like breached user data).
You might also want to add in new app features and maintain it. If you are investing a lot of money to build it, you will need to constantly improve on it. This will cost you and you should be aware of it.
We can't give you a price because it will all go based on the scope of that particular project. Maybe a new feature only takes 25 hours. That would be an extra $25,000.
A good rule of thumb would be to budget 20% the following year for upkeep. If your app costs you $100,000, then add another $20,000 the following year for app upkeep.
Commentum estimated it would take around $5,000 - $11,000 per month to maintain an app.
You also want to make sure that you are making updates to your app. Google and Apple require you to make updates to your app and a recent survey from AnyPresence found that over 80% of apps reported updating at least twice a year.
I'm a huge fan of reality and facts. The fact is that you can build the best product in the world, but if nobody knows that it exists, then nobody will use it.
We actually wrote an article on how to get app downloads (of course we did) and you can read it here.
How do you set a budget?
Do you have an existing network you can advertise to? (example; social media followers or an email list)
If you don't, then you will need to build up brand visibility and this will increase your costs because you will need to run ads in front of a new audience.
If you have an audience and network, you can easily organically launch and tell them.
We recommend taking between 20 - 30% of your development cost and setting that aside for a marketing budget.
$38,000 app development cost x 20% marketing budget equals $7,600.
The Grand Summary
Does this seem like a lot of money? If you said yes, you are right. However you need to understand this is not just some idea you are taking to market to get rich quick. Building an app is no different than starting a new business. There are many costs that go into starting a business and a mobile app needs to be treated the same.
Also remember that you get what you pay for. It's never good to cut corners and try to be cheap. We are proud that we are an all in house development team that does no outsourcing. We have outsourced before and ran into many issues. We are also not against outsourcing, we are just making sure that you are aware you get what you pay for. Yes it seems good to pay someone $10/hour, but will you be an amazing product? It's a gamble you need to take.