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How to Estimate the Development Cost of Your New Mobile App

Krzysztof Bogacz

Krzysztof Bogacz

Head of Mobile at 10Clouds
Krzysztof Bogacz is the head of mobile at 10Clouds, an international design and development company, named one of the Fastest Growing Technology Companies in Central Europe by Deloitte and Financial Times. He has more than six years of experience in creating mobile apps.
Krzysztof Bogacz

Have an idea for a great mobile app? One of the key things that you’ll want to look at right away are the development costs. As a startup, you’ll want to get great value for your money without compromising on quality.

Development costs vary widely, but in the blog post below, I will show you the key factors that influence price and give you the information you need to estimate the cost of your app before you even approach a software developer.


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Factors that influence mobile app development costs

The team you hire to do the work

One of the first things you should consider is who you would like to develop your app. The cost of development will vary depending on whether you decide to go with an in-house team or freelancer, for example.

Freelancers are likely to be the cheapest option for simple apps. If this is the route that you want to go down, check out websites such as upwork.com where you’re sure to find someone suitable for your project. But bear in mind that very few developers are also skilled in design or UX, both of which are things that your app is likely to need. You might end up having to hire several different freelancers with these skills, and you must be mindful of these potential additional costs.

Unless you already have your own internal team of developers, you’re likely to end up hiring an in-house team. If you go this route, you should be pretty certain that you will need ongoing support for your digital product or a multi-project pipeline. Make sure that you’ve covered all the key roles, which include developers, a project manager, a UX/UI designer and a QA specialist, at the very least.



The number of features and general app complexity

If you’re launching a brand-new mobile product into the market, we always advise you to create an MVP first, as it’s a great way to test how your users interact with the app, convince investors that your app is viable, and ultimately save money by not developing unnecessary features. You can read more about the benefits of creating an MVP app here.

You might also want to further examine your idea to determine whether this is a simple or complex app, or if it falls somewhere in the middle.

Below, you can find out more about the types of digital products that fall into each category:

Simple apps

These usually consist of just a few screens, and don’t have third party API integrations or require backend development. Examples of this type of app include note-taking or calendar apps, to-do lists, quiz apps and photo or film gallery-based apps, all of which tend to use standard components.

Cost: Apps such as these are likely to cost between $30K and $70K and can be created by a development team within three months.

Middle of the road apps

Apps of medium complexity usually require third party API integration and have one or more additional features, such as a chatbot or payment functionality. They are also likely to require a backend server. Examples of medium sized apps include simpler social media style apps and meditation apps.

Cost: Apps such as these are likely to cost between $70K and $190K and can be created by a development team within five to seven months.

Complex apps

These apps feature a range of advanced functionalities within a well-developed user interface. They are likely to include custom design (which might feature animation), audio and video content, real-time data synchronization, in-app purchases and more. The backend will be highly advanced and might even feature some machine learning solutions.

Cost: The development of apps such as these is likely to begin at around $200K and will be higher depending on the number of features and their complexity. Most are likely to be completed by a development team within six to 12 months.

Please note that all of the above figures are estimates from 10Clouds’ hourly market rate benchmarking analytics.


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Where your app will be available

Are you looking to build your app for iOS, Android or both?

If you’re building your app for iOS, you’ll need to make sure that it supports both the current version of the operation system and at least one past version, and this means higher development costs. At the same time, iOS users are more willing to pay for apps and make in-app purchases, so that’s a benefit. If you’re looking to reach a broad audience, Android is your best bet, as unlike iOS, Android is supported by a wide range of devices.

However, if you’ve got the budget, you should ideally build your app for both platforms simultaneously, and here’s where cross-platform technologies can save you both time and money. Frameworks such as React Native and Flutter use a single codebase for both platforms, which not only reduces development time, but also improves app maintenance because releases can be done simultaneously across iOS and Android.

Maintenance costs

Effective maintenance is essential for the long-term success of any digital product. Make sure that you have a skilled maintenance team to monitor the performance of your app and to ensure that all updates are conducted smoothly. Many software entrepreneurs forget to factor in the cost of maintenance, so don’t fall into this trap. Just to be safe, you should be looking to spend about twice the cost of your initial app development on maintaining it over a period of two years.

Conclusion

While considering the above questions will help further map out the development of your app, remember that ballpark estimates do not account for changes in the project further down the line.

There are many factors to consider when estimating the cost of your mobile app. We hope that our summary is useful to you and that you can approach your chosen developer with confidence, knowing roughly how much your digital project is likely to cost.

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