Back in 2009, mobile apps took over our world. The same year, Apple first used its famous ‘There’s app for that’ slogan in TV ads, highlighting the sheer number of applications available for iPhones and iPods via its App Store. In the years since, mobile-first software has become an essential part of modern life.
Businesses have needed to adapt to stay ahead of the competition, creating mobile-friendly versions of their software. From invoicing software to project planning tools, everything is available in app form these days. In fact, there were 255bn app downloads in 2022 alone.
Yet, the cost of building an application can stop would-be creators in their tracks. Before investing in launching software of your own, it’s important to understand how to calculate the costs of developing an app based on the different methods available.
This article will provide a comprehensive guide to app development costs, including how to calculate the cost of development by type, key factors to consider, and how to scale your capabilities.
There are not one but five different types of mobile app development. As the cost of your project will depend on which method you choose, it’s important to understand what each type entails. Let’s jump in.
Native apps are designed for use on specific platforms, such as iOS or Android. This means they’re written in the platform’s native programming language and are installed directly on a user’s mobile device.
This type of development is the most expensive, as it requires engineers with specialised skills in each platform. However, by creating software specifically for iOS and Android, you deliver a better user experience; native apps offer a more integrated experience for users as they can access other features on their device, such as the camera and GPS. This type of creation can set you back between $50,000 and $500,000, depending on the complexity of the app’s functionality and design.
Web-based mobile apps differ from traditional mobile applications in that they don’t require users to install the software on their mobile devices. Instead, web-based applications are accessed through — you guessed it — a web browser and are created using technologies like HTML. This method requires less specialised knowledge and maintenance, making it the fastest and least expensive option on this list, with prices ranging from $5,000 to $50,000.
Progress web apps, or PWAs, are accessed via a web browser, offering users an experience not unlike using a native application, with features such as push notifications and offline mode. The key benefit is that they are faster and cheaper to develop and maintain, though their functionality is limited compared to native apps. In terms of pricing, you would be looking at budgeting between $10,000 and $100,000 to create a PWA.
Lastly, we have cross-platform apps. These applications are built using a single codebase before being compiled into native code for each platform using tools and frameworks such as React Native, Xamarin, or Flutter. This allows developers to create one that can run on multiple platforms while including greater functionality than hybrid app production allows for. Creators interested in building a cross-platform application will look at costs of around $20,000 to $200,000.
As you may have gathered from the huge cost ranges we outlined in the last section, calculating the cost of developing a mobile app is no easy task. As several factors can affect this process, you need to consider these details before you can accurately estimate the cost of bringing your product to market. Let’s look into the different factors that impact project costs in more detail:
- Functionality: Functionality is everything when it comes to app development. As this dictates how it will work, what features it offers, and user experience, it’s no surprise functionality is one of the most significant factors impacting costs. Simply, the more complex an app’s functionality, the more time and resources will be required to build it. And more time and resources equals higher costs.
- Design: Design is another critical factor to consider. A well-designed, custom-made application requires more time and resources to develop, increasing its cost.
- Platform: The app platform you choose will also impact costs. For example, as iOS’s platform is more complex than Android’s, it is more costly to build an application for the former than for the latter.
- Integration: If you need to integrate your product with other systems, such as third-party APIs or payment gateways, this additional functionality can increase your costs.
- Testing: Testing is an integral step in software development. Not only does it help you check the app is functioning properly, but that your end-users will like it. The more rounds of testing are required, the more time and resources you will use. And as you know, time and resources cost money.
When calculating the cost of app development, you need to consider all the above factors, your goals and your priorities.
To complicate matters, who you get to create your app will also influence your budgets. Not all businesses have an in-house development team to work on such projects, meaning they must outsource these capabilities to third parties.
There are three key team factors that can influence your project costs. Let’s take a look at them in more detail:
- Outsourcing vs offshoring: Whether you outsource your development capabilities through a local outsourcing company or choose to create an offshore development team is a personal decision. Both offer benefits, though offshoring can offer additional cost efficiencies (we’ll get into this later).
- Developer’s location: Where your team is located will impact app development costs. Programmers in countries such as the USA or the UK typically charge more for their services than developers in India and Ukraine, despite offering comparable levels of experience and talent.
- Developer’s experience: Lastly, your developers’ levels of experience will impact costs. Naturally, people with more experience can charge more for their services, whereas fresh-faced programmers will often be more competitive.
What’s clear is that there are many factors you must consider in order to make an informed decision about app creation. Next up, we’re looking at how you can reduce your costs.
Outsourcing app development can be an effective way to reduce costs. Outsourcing involves hiring developers from other countries or regions, which can reduce costs by up to 50%. Below are the benefits of outsourcing application development:
Hiring an agency vs offshoring for app development
When outsourcing app development, businesses have two options, hiring an agency or offshoring. Hiring an agency involves working with a third-party company that provides relevant services. Offshoring involves working with engineers directly, without the involvement of an agency.
When it comes to software development, businesses have two primary options: hiring an agency or offshoring to a remote team. Both options offer their pros and cons, so let’s dive into them.
Hiring an agency can mean working with a team located in the same geographic location as your business, supporting collaboration and communication. They’ll offer expertise and accountability, with a team of professionals on-hand to deliver a quality product on time and within budget. However, these teams are usually not dedicated, meaning they’ll be working on your project part-time while supporting other businesses. They also typically come at a higher cost.
Offshoring can offer businesses a more cost-effective option. Located overseas, offshore development teams work solely on your project, providing dedicated support and expert services. With an offshoring company supporting you throughout the process, you can mitigate language barriers or time zone differences. Offshore teams can either be created from scratch or you can augment your existing resource with a development team extension.
These are far from the only benefits of selecting offshoring for your app development project. Let’s look at five top benefits of offshoring:
- Reduced costs: Outsourcing your application development to an offshore team can offer cost savings of up to 50%.
- Access to global talent: Offshoring provides access to a global pool of talent, including developers with specialised skills.
- Faster development: Offshoring can result in faster app creation as developers work in different time zones.
- Flexibility: Building your app through an offshore development team provides flexibility, allowing you to scale your project up or down as needed.
- Focus on core business: By hiring external support to take on your application development capabilities, your internal teams can focus on core business activities, like marketing and sales.
If you’re looking to outsource your development capabilities, WeAssemble can help. We can help build you an experienced team of talented engineers based in India, offering high-quality software development services at a fraction of the price of traditional outsourcing agencies. Contact us today to bring your app idea to life.