What Are the Costs of Mobile Development?

Wondering what are the costs of mobile development? Find the answer here.

You will hardly find a business with no digital presence. Mobile apps, in particular, have been at the forefront of a digital revolution.

So, it’s no wonder that global brands prioritize entering the mobile app market with a custom mobile solution. But what does it take to build a bespoke mobile solution in 2022? That’s why we’re here.

In this post, we’ll overview the average app development cost and the main cost drivers of mobile apps.

How Much Does It Cost to Launch an App in 2022?

Woman using laptop and mobile phone

The study by GoodFirms demonstrates that a mobile application with simple functionality can rack up $24K of the initial investment. A complex app, on the contrary, comes at a much higher price of around $137K. This staggering difference can be explained by a slew of cost drivers that constitute the total.

The mileage can vary, yet common factors included in the estimate are:

  • Project goals;
  • Project timelines;
  • Project scope
  • Size and organization of the team;
  • App complexity;
  • Labor costs;
  • Platforms;
  • Additional expenses (app maintenance, marketing, etc.)

The cost of labor, often known as the hourly rate, is undoubtedly one of the most significant cost drivers while developing an app. As a result, most companies opt for offshore development as an alternative to a local labor market to lower app development expenses.

However, hourly rates aren’t the only criterion that drives the total.

Top Cost Components of Mobile App Development

Jumping into app development, the upfront investment may seem confusing. Let’s see what you need to factor in to keep your expenses within the budget.

Number of Platforms

One of the most basic costs is the type and number of platforms supported. Native apps are more popular among companies since they allow for more scalability. Moreover, updates and new features are easily implemented into platform-specific solutions. Hybrid applications, on the contrary, reduce development costs yet come with limitations.

Core Functionality

Man using mobile phone

A set of must-have features is what racks up the lion’s share of your development budget. The number and complexity of your functionality will classify, in turn, your app as a basic, medium, or large.

Below, we’ve collected the most popular features according to our experience. Mind that functionality varies based on the domain:

  • Sign-up and social login – 20+ hours;
  • Push notifications and alerts – 24 hours for iOS/Android;
  • Navigation bar – 40 hours;
  • Media content sharing – 100+ hours;
  • Geolocation – 30+ hours;
  • In-app chat features – 80+ hours.

As you can see, more complex functionality needs more time to be implemented, while basic features such as login and search are easier and faster to get off the ground.

Moreover, innovative functionality is the most expensive, with AI, AR, blockchain, and others being among the top picks.

App Design and User Experience

Woman sitting in front of monitor

No app is complete without a sleek design. Therefore, UX/UI design should be another expenditure item in your budget planning.

However, designing an app doesn’t inherently mean it has the sleekest interface. Along with the external appeal, you should prioritize usability and user convenience.

To do that, start your design process with thorough user research. A deep understanding of user needs will guarantee user-friendly layouts and wireframes. Custom design, in turn, will drive a significant share of your development budget.

Backend Architecture

While UX/UI is responsible for the impressive visuals, the backend infrastructure makes sure the app’s functionality operates as intended. The backend is crucial for any custom application and can take the form of servers, mainframes, and others.

Backend development is the biggest time-consuming part. Moreover, if you’re building a data-intensive application, the backend infrastructure will be more complex, thus needing even more labor hours.

Third-party Integrations

There are a number of reasons to use 3rd-party integrations when building an app. Perhaps the most important reason is that it can help you to focus on your core competency.

By using existing third-party tools, you can avoid having to build and maintain the infrastructure yourself – something that can be both costly and time-consuming.

Additionally, using pre-existing integrations can help you to get your product to market more quickly, as well as increase its usability and adoption rates.

Team Location and Structure

Man writing on white board

Team hiring costs inherently influence the total. Based on the project size, your team size may vary. On average, a typical team set-up for app development includes:

  • Business analyst;
  • Project manager;
  • UI/UX designers;
  • iOS and Android developers;
  • Q&A specialists.

If you’re building an AI-based application with intelligent functionality, the development process should include BI and AI engineers as well.

As a rule, all development teams are hired on a particular engagement model. The latter defines the collaboration between a company and a tech vendor during the project development.

Dedicated development team, staff augmentation, and other models are highly popular in the tech industry, and all come with their pros and cons. The engagement model is also combined with a hiring option of on-shore, near-shore, and offshore.

On this line, team location plays a crucial role in impacting the app development costs. Today, most companies choose to go offshore to reduce development costs and operational overheads.

App Maintenance Costs

To make your app fault-tolerant, the app development team will provide regular maintenance activities. The latter includes all post-prod enhancements and updates needed to keep your app at its peak.

According to the industry standard, maintenance costs can be up to 20 percent of the original development budget.

The Final Word

In a digital-first global market, businesses of all sizes are looking to introduce innovation and adapt to evolving consumer needs. Mobile applications remain among the leading competitive assets that bring brands closer to customers.

However, the app development process is often associated with high costs and challenging experiences that make companies shun this undertaking.

In reality, app development costs follow a clear-cut formula with variables, including app complexity, team size, and location, as well as UI/UX design.

The more accurate requirements companies have, the more transparent their upfront investment will be. Therefore, make sure you clearly articulate your needs before contacting a vendor.

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Published on May 17, 2022 by Peter Hughes; modified on January 30, 2023. Filed under: .

Peter Hughes is a digital marketing consultant and author. Peter has more than 10 years of experience in SEO and Internet marketing.

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