Member Insights: How much does a mobile app cost?
August 11, 2022
Tommy Eklund, is the Chief Technical Officer at Choicely, a world-leading app developer that has designed apps for the Helsinki Cup, Love Island Italy and many others.
Mobile apps are a crucial part of today’s business environment. Most users’ time is spent on mobile apps vs the roughly 10% used on websites. And as with any business decision, making a mobile app comes down to pros and cons, and quite often, these boil down to costs and benefits. The benefits are almost impossible to quantify and vastly vary between cases. So it makes more sense to focus on the price. If we can reduce mobile app development costs, it makes even more sense for businesses to have apps.
Traditional app development
For this article, let’s assume a development cost of $50 per hour. This article’s actual costs for normal app development are lowballed, with upkeep and improvements not considered much.
For standard apps with features like push messages and different types of content, you would expect a minimum development time of one month (150 working hours). In many cases, this would only cover Android or iOS apps. Let’s say $15k for Android and iOS apps. At this point, you are still missing server and control panels that probably each cost you the same as a single app plus traffic costs and other running costs from servers. Server costs can be complicated to estimate and vary vastly between different implementations. But it’s safe to say that million-user app servers would cost thousands each month. We are also leaving out design work that you should invest in, as modern users expect great user experiences in every app they use as a standard.
There are many multi-platform methods to help develop suitable mobile applications, so it is possible only to create a single codebase for both iOS and Android apps with React Native, Flutter or one of the other existing multi-platform solutions. Each of these solutions has its pros and cons.
In many cases, the promises and what is delivered do not necessarily align. We have heard many horror stories of app development gone wrong and massively over budget. You won’t see the result of traditional app development until you have paid for it.
Let’s factor in maintenance and change costs, probably 30% of initial costs per year. Your app will need monitoring and updates during its lifetime. You will also want to change how the app looks and feels based on feedback. None of that is free, easy, or cheap.
If you start adding in-app purchases & subscriptions, advertisements, videos and other excellent features, you quickly increase costs.
Minimal app: $15k
Includes iOS and Android
Standard app: $60k
Control panel $15k
Premium app: $300k+
It is a lot of money, there is no doubt about that, but they are essential for the majority of businesses in the world today. As people increasingly move their work lives to not just their laptops but on to their mobile devices as well.
Because of the cost it is important that a company chooses the best app designer to suit their needs and preferences.
Although, as with everything, cost will play a role in the decision making process.