How much does it cost to create an app in 2023? A detailed guide
Ever heard of the phrase, “there’s an app for everything?” well it’s true. According to a report by Statista, as of the second quarter of 2022, the Google Play Store powers over 3.5 million of mobile apps globally whereas the Apple App Store stands closely at 2.2 million mobile apps.
Not only this, the Statista Digital Market Outlook estimates that the mobile app market revenue across various segments will increase and reach around $613 billion by the year 2025.
With such popularity, it’s not surprising to see every digital business investing into mobile app development. However, when talking about investment in mobile app development, the most common question that strikes is – How much does mobile app development cost?
This guide aims to give you a comprehensive answer to just that along with detailed insights into the associated factors that impact the app development cost, various app monetization models, mobile app development process, and how you can save money on your mobile app development.
An Overview on Average Mobile App Development Cost Estimate
In a nutshell, the tentative cost to make a mobile app can range somewhere from $25,000 to $150,000 and can also exceed $300,000 in case of customized complex apps. We used tentative because the custom mobile app development cost depends on several factors such as the app’s complexity, features and functionalities, development approach and more.
But don’t you worry, we have a detailed analysis of all the important factors contributing to the mobile app development cost.
Once you are familiar with these factors, you can estimate how much it costs to build an app using the standard calculation formula. The formula or the answer to how much does it cost to create an app lies in calculating the number of hours it would take for every single development process and multiplying it to the billable hours of resources.
So let’s begin by looking into some popular apps and their development cost.
The Most Popular Global Apps and Their Development Cost
Below are the examples of a few popular apps that have redefined and transformed the concept of customer experience and are currently leading the app market. We have also mentioned the average application development cost of these apps.
Uber is a popular ride-sharing app that connects drivers and riders around the globe. Using the app, customers can request a car instantly or on schedule. Those requests are received by drivers nearby. The average cost of developing an app like Uber can range between $30,000 – $100,000
With over 300 million daily active users, Snapchat has become a game-changer in the world of social media apps. This popular messaging app has been a pioneer in bringing augmented reality to its users through filters and interactive lenses. The app also allows you to share multimedia messages that will “self-destruct” in up to 10 seconds. The cost to build a Snapchat-like app can be somewhere around $45,000 to $100,000 for one platform and up to $200,000 for both the platforms.
Whatsapp is an instant messaging app that allows users to exchange messages along with instant video/audio calls, photo and video upload etc. The average cost to build a messaging app like WhatsApp would range from $30,000- $70,000.
Coursera is an e-learning app that has gained amazing popularity among students and teachers due to the exceptional benefits it offers. The app offers a range of distance learning programs that include skill development courses to university degrees across the globe. The Coursera-like mobile app development cost might settle between $60,000-$120,000
Netflix is the world’s leading media streaming platform. It allows users to stream shows and movies at their convenience. The average cost of developing an app like Netflix is around $25,000 to $200,000.
While these were the estimation costs of some of the leading mobile apps in the market, we also need to discuss essential development factors that affect the overall mobile app development cost.
Top 8 Factors That Impact Your Mobile App Development Cost
Mobile app development cost is dependent on several factors that are of significance. Understanding these cost affecting factors will help you make the most cost-effective decisions and will give you the best return on your development. Moreover, it will also help you stay within your budget.
So, let’s dive into the major factors that affect the overall cost of mobile application development.
Mobile app complexity
The average cost of developing a simple app is $5,000 – $50,000. A simple app comes with a set of basic user features such as a login system, user profile facility, dashboard and limited administration.
The cost of a medium complex app is $50,000- $120,000. A medium complex app includes a plethora of features for user engagement and app monetization. Along with basic features, these apps include social media integrations, payment gateway, audio/video streaming, user privacy, etc.
Redefining the UI/UX strategy for Domino’s, increasing its conversion rate by 23%.
A complex app could cost somewhere from $100,000 to $300,000 and above. These apps are integrated with the latest technology such as AR/VR and AI and Machine learning. Such apps also include features like multi-language support, high-end data logic, and much more.
App features and functionalities
The answer to how much does it cost to create an app greatly depends on the features and functionalities you integrate into your application. The base mobile app development price for the type of app you intend to build keeps on increasing with the addition of new features.
Therefore, it is advisable to concentrate only on the core features in the initial version of the app. It will help you offer a great customer experience at affordable costs. The best option is to get an MVP developed. It is the first version of a product with a basic set of features. MVP will save time and money and help garner valuable user feedback.
Let’s take a look at the average app development cost and time required for basic features and then move on to the complex features.
The answer to how much does it cost to make an app varies greatly from category to category. When we move from one category to another, a lot of things change like the number of users, functionalities, security criteria, etc. which ultimately leads to varying costs to develop an app.
E-commerce/M-Commerce apps- Ecommerce applications such as Amazon and Wayfair are at the peak of their popularity because these applications are loaded with tons of features that enable the applications to perform effectively in real-time, handle millions of users at once, and have robust security.
Social Networking apps- Social media apps are developed with third-party integrations and have the ability to access hardware functions such as cameras, audio recorders, etc. They are also highly scalable in nature for they have to support millions of users at a time.
As a result, the social media app cost tends to be higher than the cost of less complex mobile apps.
On-demand apps- Even the simplest of on-demand applications has three versions- For users, for individuals offering services, and for the business.
For instance, Acti drive is an on-demand service application modeled on IoT technology that enables drivers to drive hassle-free.
Hardware-dependent apps- All the IoT-based applications tend to be highly dependent on hardware devices for performing actions like extracting data or sending commands for a particular action.
One popular reference of IoT-based hardware-dependent apps is “Moo”, an eScooter application. Moo is the future of mobility that manages transportation at micro level which is why the application is completely hardware based.
Now, here’s an estimation cost to develop an app based on its category:
App design & animation
The next factor that adds to the answer to how much does it cost to make an app is app design. Ensuring that your users invest their time in your app, calls for a specific focus on app design.
When deciding on app design, we generally have two options – Custom and Standard UI. Customized UI is much more difficult to design and implement than the Standard UI, which makes it more expensive.
Other components of mobile app design are wireframe and animation;
Wireframing- To create effective user experience features and maps, Wireframing is employed by the developers. Special tools like MARVEL, Balsamiq, and Photoshop are used.
Animation- Animation has become a popular method to make certain aspects of any application interesting and intuitive. More often than not, gaming and social media applications employ animations to a great degree.
When getting started with the mobile app development process, it’s important to choose a platform. Depending on your target audience, you can choose to build an iOS, Android, web, or cross-platform application. If you are a startup with a minimal budget, it’s better to opt for one platform initially, later on, you can shift to multiple platforms.
Here are the most popular app development platform options you can choose from:
Native app platform (Android & iOS)- Language-wise, iOS app development happens on Swift and Objective C, while Android App Development is done on Java and/or Kotlin.
Web app platform – Apps like Progressive Web Apps and other forms of web apps are much cost-efficient as compared to native apps. In terms of cost of development, web app development cost amounts to somewhere in the range of $15,000 to $50,000.
Cross platform – Getting an app developed for both iOS and Android simultaneously is the new cost-efficient trend. The platform comes with a series of benefits like single code use and less development effort. The cross-platform industry is presently divided between Flutter and React Native platforms.
Hybrid app platform – Hybrid Apps are a blend of both native and web apps. While it is installed like a native app, it runs in a webview component.
Undeniably, expenses do not come to an end at the last stage of the mobile application development process. Businesses will have to continue changing their apps to keep up with the varying market trends and new device & OS versions, which comes with a cost. What takes your budget post app development?
App bug fixes – There is no such thing as a bug-free mobile app. In most cases, there are bugs that are only highlighted once the app is published. You will have to keep a lookout for those bug fixes.
Design changes – App designs are the one element of a mobile app that tends to get old and stop enticing users. It is very important for a brand to not let their app design get outdated if they wish to keep their users hooked.
App maintenance cost is calculated yearly at the valuation of 20% of the whole mobile app development cost.
It’s one of the factors that bring the cost of mobile app development slashing down. When businesses decide to reuse the code of an existing app in their own app and just change the branding elements, the mobile application development cost becomes much less.
The cost for app development when the existing codes are used is 20 – 30% less than the cost of an app that is coded from scratch.
Size and location of development team
The total mobile application development cost heavily depends on who you choose for the app development. There are multiple choices at hand – a proficient app development company, local team, inhouse development team or a freelance developer.
However, an experienced mobile app development company can work wonders for your business app when it comes to crafting high end applications with top notch features and functionalities.
Here is a rough estimate of what your mobile app developer cost for app development should range to along with an outsourced app development team.
Hidden Factors Affecting Mobile App Development Cost
In this section, we will be discussing the most common hidden costs of mobile app development projects. Understanding these factors will help reduce risks, as well as save time and money. So, without further ado, let’s dive into each of them in detail!
Depending on the size of your app, you may also need to hire a quality assurance agent or a project manager as well. You might also require business analysts to help you keep the development cost low and within your app development budget.
Infrastructure costs include expenses for data storage, data delivery and app hosting. All of this adds to both the cost and complexity of a project. Examples of infrastructure cost items include servers, data storage, and development tools and libraries.
IT support costs
You can’t make a high-quality app without IT support services and continuous technical support. However, the support costs may increase over time. Examples of IT support services include iOS and Android updates, bug fixing, and API maintenance.
App publishing costs
When developers build apps, they keep in mind the app store requirements. When it comes to app store fees, it’s not that significant. When submitting an Android App on Play Store, you will have to pay a one-time fee of $25. Apple, on the other hand, charges $99 per year.
In case you want to distribute your app exclusively within your organization, you will need to pay $299 a year to join the Apple Developer Enterprise Program and provide your app via the App Store. Google Play doesn’t charge the service.
App security is a major concern. Users need to trust your app with their information. For this reason, you should have a proper security plan in place. If you consider this point at the start and include time for testing and security checks in advance, everything will be fine. If this is not the case, the costs will be higher and may be accompanied by financial and reputational losses.
Now that we are fairly familiar with all the given factors affecting mobile applications development cost, it’s time to look at the standard app development process for you to get started.
Step-by-Step Mobile App Development Process to Get Started
To build a successful app for your business, you need to go through the stages described below:
Research the target market
When developing an app for your business, you need to conduct research and find out more about your target market. This will help you get a clear picture of the market dynamics, how consumers interact with brands, leading players, and more. You should also dive deeper into user reviews for top apps in the market. This will help you to come up with a better product.
Choose the right platform
Your application can be compatible with both Android and iOS platforms. But, in case you have a confined budget, you can develop just an Android or iOS app. After that, you can boost your service so it can perform on another platform also.
Hire an app development company
Hiring a trusted and reliable app development company will ensure that your app includes all the latest features and functionalities within the desired deadlines.
A mobile app development company consists of app developers, UI/UX designers, project managers, and market specialists who offer valuable suggestions and always consider your vision. The company also offers access to industry expertise and latest technologies.
If you want to validate your app idea without spending a fortune, consider developing a minimum viable product (MVP). For a successful MVP creation, ask your app development company to identify must-have features and key USPs and then develop an app accordingly.
Test your app
Testing is another crucial step to consider when developing an app for your business. Test everything from the app’s performance and user experience to content. Proper testing helps reduce the development time and cost, identify bugs, and greatly improve your reputation as a service provider.
Submit app to stores
Once you’re satisfied with your app’s testing, you can submit your app on the Play Store or Apple’s App Store. However, when publishing an app on the App Store or Play Store, you need to comply with Apple’s and Google’s developer guidelines. Also, you need to align your monetization model with their requirements.
Launch and track performance
Once you launch your app on app stores, make sure to track its performance with the in-app analytics tools implemented during the development phase, introduce updates to increase user engagement, and address users’ requests and concerns.
This was the standard process to get started with your app development. It is now time to look at the business-cum-revenue side of the app. So, next, let’s look into the ways an app makes money.
How Do Apps Make Money?
While there are multiple ways to monetize an app, in this section, we will discuss a few most popular revenue channels for apps that you may opt for individually or in combination to earn more revenue and enhance customer value.
It is one of the most popular ways to earn money from an application. In this monetization model, you promote services or products for third-party clients on your application, and in
return, get paid.
In this monetization model, users are allowed to access basic features for free. To access premium features, they are required to pay a certain amount. Freemium also offers the scope for implementing secondary revenue channels such as in-app advertising.
In this model, a user will have to buy a subscription plan to access the features for which the app is mainly famous for. There can be many options under this model such as monthly subscription, yearly subscription, or per-day subscription. Major platforms like Google and Apple allow users to manage subscriptions through them.
The sponsorship model involves finding a sponsor related to your niche and striking up a compensation structure. In return for the monetary compensation, the app could include the sponsor’s brand, advertise its products, or send users to its website.
Well, we have only been talking about the mobile app development estimate and associated expenses, so it’s time we introduce you to the standard practices that can help you take off some overhead expenses from your budget.
How Can You Reduce Your Mobile App Development Costs?
Fortunately, business owners and entrepreneurs can reduce the costs of developing mobile apps by following a few industry practices and applying some useful tricks.
In this section, we will take a closer look at the steps that companies can use to reduce overall custom app development costs.
Prioritize features early on
When building an app, it’s crucial to prioritize your app features correctly. It’s a smart move to prioritize the functionalities of your app to start driving business value as quickly as possible. You can save the nice-to-have elements for the later stages of development. Hence, it’s advisable to build a minimum viable product (MVP) first.
Involve quality assurance early on
Since your application is prone to bugs and errors, you need to address them as soon as possible. By involving QA professionals right from the beginning, you can identify serious problems and bugs before the development phase begins.
As a result, you will save up a huge amount that might become very high in the middle of
Plan for the future
The app built today might look completely different in the future. For example, if you build an MVP, you might want to change some features on the basis of customer feedback. Your target market might evolve in a completely new direction, forcing you to change your product as well.
That’s why it’s wise to be mindful of short-term and long-term goals when developing an application. It will save you plenty of money in the long run.
In-house or outsourcing
Choosing the type of mobile app development staffing structure is an important element of your project planning. Your final decision will influence budget costs, workflow structure, and even the product maintenance concept. So, the ultimate question is what to choose – outsourcing or in-house development.
Outsourcing is when you hire an already established team for the development project. In order to outsource the app development process, the company gets access to a pool of exceptional talent to choose from. It also allows you to cut down on office expenses and equipment costs and minimize internal workflow.
Consider cross-platform development
Every entrepreneur when launching an app faces a dilemma – whether to launch for just Android, iOS, or both platforms. Creating native apps for both platforms is not cost-effective. If you create an app for just one platform, you can potentially miss out on a large chunk of the user base on the other platform.
The best solution is to develop cross-platform apps that work on both platforms. Twitter is one of the best examples of a cross-platform mobile app. Popular technologies for developing cross-platform apps include Flutter, Unity 3D, React Native, amongst others.