Factors that affect the cost of mobile app development

How much does it cost to get a mobile app developed

The easy accessibility of mobile phones has accelerated the growth of mobile applications worldwide. In 2019 alone, over 209 billion app downloads were recorded globally; which is a noteworthy feat in this field.

A report by Statista suggests that the number of mobile users in the world is slated to touch a whopping 3.8 billion by the end of 2020. 

It was 2.5 billion just four years ago! These astounding numbers could do wonders in the coming years and might change the face of app development, too. 

Both small and large businesses have understood the power and importance of building mobile applications to engage their customers and drive sales. However, with the market saturated with freelancing services and mobile development companies, it has become extremely difficult to predict the cost of mobile application development.

This is the main reason why small businesses cannot raise the right funds, and why large companies end up paying thousands to build a sub-par product.

In this article, we will explore the factors that determine the cost of mobile application development. We will also break down the factors, features, and methodologies that are involved in the process. 

If you are a business owner who is planning to develop a mobile application or hoping to rebuild an existing one, this article will offer you some valuable insight and clarity so you can take an organized and informed route.

Factors that affect mobile application development cost 

The cost of mobile application development depends on multiple factors that range from the technology stack you choose to the developers you hire. There is no standard way to determine the cost precisely. However, based on the size of your organization, your budget, and the features you plan to incorporate, you can chalk up rough estimates. 

Here are some factors that you will need to decide while building your application. This will help you determine the ultimate cost too. 

1) Type of Application 

Mobile application development progresses in one of the following two ways:

– Native application development 

Native mobile development is building a mobile application in a language native to the operating system. This compatibility helps in the development process. Native development helps in building stable and robust applications. It helps to achieve the perfect balance between a great user experience and performance. 

Native application development, however, involves complex coding. Furthermore, it is platform-dependent and hence, requires more time and effort. This makes native application development costly. 

Native mobile development can cost you somewhere between US $100,000 to US $500,000 on average. 

– Hybrid application development

The other approach is hybrid development. In hybrid application development, developers can reuse code for multiple operating systems like Android, iOS, and Windows. It’s also known as cross-platform development. The reuse of code makes hybrid development extremely cost-effective. The total time required for development is also minimized significantly since developers need to only code once. 

Many hybrid technologies like React, Xamarin, and Flutter are now becoming favorites amongst the developer community.

The downside of hybrid development is its low reliability compared to native development.

As for the cost of Hybrid mobile development, it is somewhere between US $5000 and US $100,000 on an average. 

2) Cost in building functionalities 

A feature-rich application definitely stands a chance of attracting more customers, but it is important to understand the underlying cost before deciding on your features. Every functionality varies in its complexity and its cost can differ depending upon the required effort. Integrating newer features in your mobile application makes the development further complex, increasing the total application cost. 

As an example, the sign-up functionality is less complex than building an in-app chat feature, which can sharply increase the development cost.

You should also consider the need for any third-party services that you need to integrate with your application. It is important to study product management and build an application in a progressive, incremental manner. Validating what you build before investing money in it is an excellent approach. 

3) Cost of human resource 

Provide a viewpoint on developing internally and hiring outside 3rd party onsite and offshore agency

Who you hire plays a very important role in determining the cost of your application.

You can choose to carry out the development process internally for the greater control you might have over the proceedings. An in-house developer’s salary would come to a minimum of US $68,478.

Therefore, the more cost-efficient way would be to outsource your development. This will not just cut down costs but also allow you to concentrate on the core activities of your business that require your attention. 

There is also the advantage of the skilled perspective and creativity you would bring to the table with an outside hire. 

Now, there two ways you can go about this: 

  1. Hiring a Freelancer and 
  2. Hiring a 3rd Party Onsite or Offshore Agency

Hiring a freelancer can save a lot on costs. You can accomplish app development with a freelancer at as low as US $543 (estimate per completed project). However, the lack of experience can hurt you, eventually. Amateur developers may take longer to complete development. The application may end up being unstable and buggy.

Therefore, hiring a mobile application development agency is usually the best approach to building your application. Agencies with a vast portfolio can bring you experienced developers and designers who understand technology. The cost of hiring an agency is on the higher side. However, working with an experienced team can help you make the right decisions, which will save efforts and result in a stable and efficient product. 

As per Clutch, if you choose to hire an agency for your app development, it will cost you somewhere around US $30,000 to $700,000.

4) Backend infrastructure

Every mobile application needs a strong backend infrastructure to remain stable and function in the most optimum manner. Many business owners lack knowledge with backends. They cannot understand the cost estimations that go into building a strong infrastructure. Maintaining servers requires load balancers, and the right set up to provide protection and uninterrupted functioning.

The Amazon Cloud Service (AWS) is currently the most popular service that provides quick and seamless cloud hosting. They also provide flexibility by adapting their services according to your application’s growth. There are other services like Vultr that offer the same services as Amazon at a lesser cost.

It is advisable to first understand your application’s needs before investing in the backend infrastructure. Make sure you don’t cut corners here, as the core of your product depends upon its backend architecture. 

Depending on the complexity of your application, the estimated cost of servers is somewhere between US $70 and US $320 per month.

If you opt for shared hosting, the cost will be as low as US $3 per month. VPS (Virtual Private Servers) prices range from US $10 to US $15 per month, whereas dedicated servers prices are the highest at US $100 per month. The most popular hosting choice today is Cloud Hosting, which is priced at US $10 to US $50 per month. 

5) Support 

Application development does not end after your first launch. It is an incremental process that changes and grows constantly to ensure your customers get the best. Thus, support is a mandatory part of the application development process. Your mobile application development agency can help you in understanding the financial overheads needed to provide you the optimum support. The things that should ideally be covered in support may include: 

  • Regular updates
  • Regular Backups
  • Bug tracking 
  • Bug fixes
  • App update submissions

Overall cost estimation

As we saw earlier, it is extremely difficult to predict the exact cost of application development. A survey conducted by Clutch suggested that the high median cost of building an application is US $171,450. However, the range fluctuates from US $30K to US $700K. This range depends completely upon how you invest in the factors we explored in this article.

Depending on the platform, application publishing also involves some cost. For iOS, the cost of publishing is US $99 per year. For Android, Google charges a one-time fee of US $25 to publish your app on the PlayStore.

Building incrementally and strategically 

In conclusion, the cost of application development is something that can be predicted and controlled through research and a thorough understanding of the development process. The factors that add to the cost can be intelligently and strategically handled to save money and build a great product. 

If you are a small business owner, make sure you study product management and run MVP experiments before blindly investing money. Try to figure out what your customers want through interviews and A/B tests. 

Validate features before investing in them, build a strong team by hiring experienced designers and developers, and invest in a robust backend infrastructure to build a successful mobile application for your business.

Rajamanickam Rajan
Rajamanickam Rajanhttps://www.skeintech.com/
Rajamanickam Rajan is the director of Skein Technologies, a leading mobile app development company in India. He has expertise in creating responses for effort estimation and RFPs. Also, he has good experience in developing hybrid and native applications.
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