“How much does it cost to develop a mobile application?”
This is a question posed constantly by businesses, developers themselves, and those just curious to know what goes into their morning news app. Unfortunately, it is not an easy question to answer. Countless factors influence how much it costs to develop a specific mobile application. Imagine the wide, almost endless, variety of apps that you can get in the app store. Regardless of whether you use the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, you have millions of diverse applications at your fingertips. These range from games to weather apps, news apps to health apps, reading apps to productivity apps and the list goes on. This wide range of app types masks an even wider range of features that go into making each one. Without specifics, it’s very difficult to figure out how much it will cost to develop a mobile app. However, taking a look at some factors that influence the price should help shed some light on this tricky topic.
Features, Features, Features
With the millions of aforementioned apps competing for a spot on your phone, features are more important than ever. Teams of talented developers continue coming up with new exciting features that make the user’s life easier or at least more entertaining. These cool features come at a cost though. As features add up, the price of the application’s development goes up with them.
The number of features that an app has isn’t the only feature-related cost. Not all the features an app can have are created equal. Some cost more than others because they are more complex, require more talented developers, or require outside services (more on that later). So, just because an app has a lot of features doesn’t necessarily mean it will be costlier to develop. An app with less, but more complex features could easily cost more than one that is packed with simple features only. Keeping this in mind helps reveal part of the reason that the cost of developing mobile applications fluctuates so much.
How Many Screens
Consider this scenario: App A has 25 screens where users can interact and view information. App B has 10 screens for users to do the same. Which app cost more to develop? Easy, right? App A cost more to develop because it has more screens. Even without knowing anything about the screens, it is easy to see why having more screens equals more money. By default, having more screens makes an app costlier to make because developers have to put time and energy into creating each one of them.
But what is a “screen”? In application development, a screen is equivalent to a website’s “page”. It is a part of the app that allows the user to interact or view something within the app. When they tap and go to a different part of the application, they are now on a new screen. Just like clicking through a website, navigating through an app’s screens makes it easier to use and helps guide the user through its features.
Some apps have features that require the use of a database. This can be when a user signs in to create an account, leaves feedback within the app, or is able to save personal data. Although these features are some of the most useful and most convenient, the necessity of a database increases the price of app development.
The key factor that increases cost when using a database is the time it takes to integrate into the app. The amount of time it takes can vary based on what type of data is being added and retrieved by users, but it ultimately raises prices regardless of what type of data is being stored. On top of that, additional costs for hosting the data on the database must be considered.
Apple vs. Android? Why Not Both?
With Android and iOS combined running on 99% of all smartphones and handheld devices, it’s easy to limit the discussion to the two when developing an app. However, with recent polls suggesting that 81.7% running Android and 17.9% running iOS it can be hard to decide what platform to develop an app for.
Although developing for Android only may seem like the smartest solution, that leaves out over 77 million smartphone users. On top of that, developing apps for Android is more difficult and time consuming. Since Android runs on thousands of different devices with different sizes and specs, there is much more testing involved to ensure that everything works properly on any device.
On the contrary, iOS devices are more streamlined and easier to develop for. In today’s world of Apple vs. Android, it is practically impossible to ignore either side when developing an app. Yet, since they are so different, it means developing for both platforms individually. This takes more time and, you guessed it, more money.
This is one area that has some contrast to what we have discussed so far. The use of external features during app development can drastically reduce the time it takes to develop. Utilizing external or third-party services for enabling things like push notifications or analytics makes the developer’s job much easier. In every other situation, increasing development time correlates to increased cost and vice versa. The opposite is true when it comes to utilizing external services.
Using these services comes at a cost. Pricing for each of the third-party services used for development varies based on what the service is and how much data is processed. Depending on these factors, using third-party services can either save money by saving development time or cost more money by having to pay extra fees.
Development Is A Complex Joy
Developing an app, or having one developed for you, is a rewarding experience. More importantly, the final product can provide a great service or entertainment for the user. Due to the nature of apps themselves and their tremendous versatility and diversity, putting a generic price tag on development is extremely difficult. Instead, the broad spectrum of factors that affect development costs must be considered.
When it comes to developing an app, price is a concern but it shouldn’t be your primary concern. Even on a budget, you can develop a great app. Some popular apps in your favorite app store were probably developed on an affordable budget. Remember that the key to a successful application isn’t hundreds of flashy features, but quality ones that serve their purpose well. In today’s world of apps, all it takes is one good idea to create something great.