Caption – How much do you need to spend on your new app?
It’s one of the toughest questions to answer but one that we get asked all the time: how much does it cost to make an app? And the answer we invariably give is ‘it depends.’ The truth is that there are so many aspects of app design and development to take into consideration that it’s impossible to say exactly how much an app will cost.
If you’d like to know more about developing an on-demand service app, then check out our detailed post on the topic. But for the sake of this article, let’s presume that there are no glitches or design flaws and that all you want is a simple native app. Nothing too fancy but one that does the job. Ah, but what is a native app? We’re glad you asked.
Web vs. Native vs. Hybrid
A web app is basically a mobile version of a website. Pretty much every company on the planet has a mobile-ready website these days, and if they don’t, they’re missing out. No need to focus on this type of app at all.
A native app is one that is designed for a specific operating system which is usually either iOS or Android. This is a type of app you download from an app store. We’ll be talking mostly about this one.
A hybrid app is one that can be used on any platform. These are quite useful as there’s no need to have them approved by either Google Play or the App Store. However, this apparent convenience comes at a price as the user experience is often poor compared to native apps. And when it comes to apps, the user experience is everything.
As we mentioned earlier, your costs depend on certain factors such as your business model, platform, functionality, design, and the developer you choose. It’s imperative that you start from the beginning and nail down your idea and business model before you take things any further as this will determine how much you spend overall.
The typical costs
An app could run you anywhere in the region of $10,000 right up to $500,000. Yes, that’s half a million dollars for a little app. But remember what we said about your business model? If the app is designed to have very few functions and features (like a basic information or reminder app), it will be at the lower end of the scale. While an app that will have in-app purchases, multiple features, and possibly messaging functionality will cost a great deal more.
How long will it take?
The app design and building process can take months so no need to worry about having all of the money up front as it may be possible to pay according to milestones. It’s an expensive business though, and you may have to extend your credit, apply for a new credit card, or take out a short-term loan which can be especially handy if you have a poor credit rating.
To calculate the time and cost, we’ll divide our apps into three categories – simple, moderate, and complex. Once you have decided which category your app falls into, then you can get a rough idea of the cost involved.
- Simple – $10,000+ (approx. 2 months)
- Moderate – $40,000 – $80,000 (approx. 2-4 months)
- Complex – $75,000 – $150,000 (approx. 4-8 months)
These are of course very rough approximations of the timescale and costs involved. The more features and functionality you offer, the more expensive it gets. But as we said earlier, if we’re talking about an average app with no major bells and whistles, these figures are about right.
Before you hire a developer and start talking contracts and numbers, it’s imperative that you have done your market research. See what kind of competition you’re likely to come up against and try to determine if there is a genuine interest in your idea. We can’t even begin to tell you how many business owners have started developing an app only to give up halfway through the process when they realized it was not a viable investment. So before you do anything else, do your homework!