The demand for mobile apps seems to be unstoppable, and global spending in major app stores is expected to climb to $157 billion by 2022. But how much does it cost to create an app? The answer is complicated because there are many different types of mobile apps and many different ways to develop them. After reading this article, you will understand the main factors that influence the cost of developing an app and know the average cost of app development.
How Much Does It Cost to Create an App Worldwide?
Experts predict that the number of mobile users will reach 7 billion by the end of 2020. The global growth in mobile use is an enormous opportunity for organizations that would like to engage new customers and deepen their relationships with existing ones.
While large multi-national enterprises have enough resources to fund their own in-house app development teams, small and medium-sized businesses need to make every single dollar count to stay in the green, which means that knowing the cost of creating an app is very important to them.
Generally speaking, mobile app development cost varies widely. Thanks to a frequently cited survey by Clutch, we know that leading mobile app development companies charge between $37,913 and $171,450 to develop an app, but some don’t hesitate to ask for $500,000.
Of course, leading mobile app development companies are just the tip of the iceberg that is the development industry. Most apps are developed by smaller agencies, some of which have employees dispersed across many sites around the world. According to research from GoodFirms, agencies charge, on average, between $40,000 to $60,000 for a simple application and between $61,000 and $69,000 for a medium complexity application.
If you’ve expected the cost of creating an app to be much lower, don’t worry: it’s possible to develop an app for just a few thousand dollars, but only if you choose an agency that’s located in a country where developers earn considerably less than developers who are based in the United States.
Outsourcing or Local Development?
Choosing between outsourcing and local development is essential if you want to get an accurate answer to the question: “How much does it cost to make an app for your business?” Even for larger companies with plenty of resources, it often doesn’t make much sense to hire an in-house development team and invariably spread themselves thin.
Instead, they partner with mobile app development professionals like ComboApp and let them worry about the technical aspects of creating a mobile app while they focus on their core competencies. To help you decide which approach is better for you, here are some of the most important pros and cons of outsourcing software development:
Pros of outsourcing
- Cost: The fact is that the United States is an expensive place, and the average base pay of a US-based mobile app developer is $96,000 a year, an average hourly wage of $48 per hour. It doesn’t make any sense for most companies to spend so much money on a software developer if all they want to do is develop a single application.
- Time-saving: Hiring software developers takes a lot of time, and the same can be said about planning in-house software development projects. On the other hand, mobile app development agencies and freelance software developers are instantly available, and they already have previous experience that helps them quickly overcome common roadblocks and develop complex apps on time.
- Flexibility: The mobile app industry is in a constant state of flux, and a few months don’t go by without a new technology sending ripples through it. With outsourcing, you can easily find developers with the right skill set for your project and hire them without any delay.
- Access to talented developers: 9 in 10 business owners are struggling to find and hire IT professionals in the United States. Fortunately, the world is a large place, and there are no shortage of talented software developers in other countries.
- Scalability: If one day you decide to add more functionality to your application, you can simply outsource more developers to get the job done. Likewise, you can just as easily scale down your pool of outsourced talent if you decide to put your application in maintenance mode.
Cons of outsourcing
- Lack of face-to-face communication: Even though modern technology makes it remarkably easy to communicate over long distances, some issues are still easier to solve face to face. Unfortunately, outsourcing doesn’t allow for much face-to-face communication, which is something not all businesses are willing to accept.
- Cultural differences: When outsourcing a software developer based in a different country, cultural differences may create surprising communication issues. In some cultures, for example, it’s considered to be rude to directly critique someone else’s work, which is something most Americans are used to.
- Time-zone difference: It’s never fun to discover an app-breaking bug and be unable to fix it in a timely manner because all outsourced software developers are asleep. That said, most vendors solve this issue by scheduling meetings and ensuring that at least one person is always available.
- Lack of control: Companies that decide for outsourcing should expect to give up a certain degree of control over the development process. Attempts to micro-manage outsourced developers typically result in a lot of frustration on both sides.
- Security risks: For companies operating in certain industries, outsourcing isn’t an option due to the security risks associated with it.
As you can see, both outsourcing and hiring an in-house development team have their pros and cons, some of which influence the cost of creating an app, while others influence the development process itself.
What Affects Mobile Application Costs?
The cost of applications depends on several factors, and understanding them is key to answering the main question presented in this article: “How much does it cost to create an app?”
1. Complexity of the project
In many ways, mobile apps are like websites. There are extremely simple apps that don’t do much besides displaying static text and perhaps a few images, and there are also incredibly sophisticated apps that provide real-time messaging capabilities, NFC payments, and much more.
Whereas a single freelancer can put together a simple application with limited functionality in just a few weeks, it can take around 2,000 hours to create a complex enterprise mobile app with real-time centralized database synchronization, notifications, chat support, and other popular features.
Mobile games are a whole different animal altogether because they can be just reskins of white-label titles sold by mobile game factories or groundbreaking 3D titles with real-time multiplayer, achievements, and virtual currency.
2. App Development Approach
In 2020, Android and iOS dominate the mobile landscape. Most companies that decide to develop a mobile app want to target both platforms at the same time, which can be done by either developing a separate native application for each platform or using a hybrid/cross-platform mobile app development framework to target both platforms at the same time.
Native app development is virtually always more expensive because it essentially doubles the amount of work required, but it allows developers to take full advantage of platform-specific features and provide excellent performance.
On the other hand, hybrid/cross-platform app development frameworks like Xamarin, React Native, or Adobe PhoneGap, can be highly cost-effective and fast to work with, but they may not support all features that are available to developers in the latest version of Android and iOS.
3. Backend Infrastructure and Maintenance
Some apps require a backend infrastructure that’s more complex than the apps themselves. Online stores are a good example because their features typically include content management capabilities, discount code management, checkout, search functionality, reporting, integrated blog, marketing tools, and much more.
Sometimes, this infrastructure is already present, and software developers simply need to take advantage of it, but that’s not always the case. Developing all this functionality from scratch can take a lot of time and money and greatly add to the total mobile app development cost.
Because mobile users today expect bug-free apps and frequent feature updates, it’s also important to take into account the cost of ongoing maintenance, which usually ends up being about 15 to 20 percent of the original development costs.
So, how much does it cost to develop an app? That depends on many different factors, ranging from the geographic location of the developers to the complexity of the application. To get an accurate estimate, it’s always best to contact professional mobile app developers and development agencies directly and ask for a quote.
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