In 2021, developing a mobile app has become essential for every organization. Through a mobile app, companies can not only reach their potential customers but also streamline different business operations for better productivity. Not to mention, a mobile app helps organizations step into the digital realm and establish a strong brand identity in their respective verticals.
This is probably the reason why the global app development revenue has skyrocketed from 97.7 billion US dollars in 2014 to 693 billion dollars in 2021. What’s more interesting is that this revenue is further forecasted to surpass the 900 billion dollar mark by the end of 2023. These revenues are a clear indication that mobile apps will continue to dominate the digital spectrum and brands would have to invest in app development to survive in today’s competitive market.
But, how much does it cost to develop a mobile app? Do I have to spend $10,000, $50,000, or $1000,000 to build a mobile app? These are the two questions that come to mind as soon as a business owner decides to invest in mobile app development. To be honest, the cost to develop a mobile app varies for each company and mainly depends on an array of different factors.
For instance, app complexity is a major deciding factor in the game. Simple apps like a Calculator can be developed for under $20,000, but if you want to launch a full-scale messenger like Whatsapp, you would have to spend anywhere between $70,000 to $150,000 for the project.
Apart from the app complexity, several other factors such as the hourly rates of your app development company in India can also influence the overall cost of your mobile application. In this guide, we have put together a list of such factors and devised a detailed step-by-step process to plan your app development budget in advance.
Factors Influencing the App Development Cost
1. Development Team
When it comes to building a mobile app from scratch, business owners can follow one of the two different approaches. They can either outsource the task to a third-party development firm or hire an in-house development team to build the app.
In general, the majority of companies choose the latter as hiring a dedicated app development firm is comparatively more cost-effective than managing in-house developers. Since there are no expenses to manage the team, you’ll be able to get your app developed at lower rates.
Unfortunately, working with a remote development team comes with its own challenges. Since you have no control over the team, you can never be 100% sure about their expertise and the development process. This is why it’s always advised to execute rigorous research while hiring a third-party app development firm for your mobile app.
2. Native vs Hybrid App Development
Your app development approach will also have a huge impact on the final development cost. Are you planning to launch two native apps for both iOS and Android or a single cross-platform (hybrid) application? The former will cost comparatively higher because you’ll have to hire two separate teams to build two different applications for both platforms.
In case you don’t know already, native apps are platform-dependent mobile solutions that are designed for a single platform (either iOS or Android). These types of applications are specifically tailored to meet the ecosystem of a specific mobile platform. But, that’s not the case with hybrid mobile apps. As the name implies, these types of applications don’t rely on the platform and offer the same functionality on both platforms.
The reason why hybrid mobile apps are cheaper is ‘code reusability’. While working on a cross-platform or hybrid solution, developers have the liberty to deploy the same codebase to build apps for both iOS and Android. This eliminates the need for two separate development teams and also reduces the overall time frame to build the app. As a result, you can get your app developed at a lower price.
3. Infrastructure Setup
Here’s the deal; if you want to launch a full-scale mobile app, it would be impossible to store its data on a local server, especially if you aspire to target a global audience. Instead, you’ll need a dedicated server to manage application data, handle the user acquisition, and provide the desired bandwidth to deliver optimal performance to the end-users.
In simple words, a server will help you host your mobile app on the Internet - for which you’ll have to pay a dedicated charge each month. Though this doesn’t come under the app development cost, the server charges are a part of the maintenance phase and you must include them in your budget beforehand. Like the overall development costs, the server charges can also vary for each mobile app - depending on the customer base and your preferred hosting server.
In the majority of the cases, however, the initial infrastructure setup would cost anywhere between $500-$1,000. As your app will start acquiring new customers, you’ll have to pay additional charges to manage the increasing bandwidth.
4. Maintenance Costs
Finally, the maintenance cost will also decide how much you would have to take out of your pocket to launch your mobile app. The truth is app development doesn’t end when the mobile app is successfully deployed in the market.
At this stage, the Quality Assurance (QA) teams take control over the reins and monitor the app’s performance among the users. They also run regular tests to test different modules of the app and ensure that they deliver the expected performance.
The initial maintenance phase usually lasts for 3-4 months - during which the Indian app developers implement the required changes to the code and optimize the overall functionality. So, while evaluating the estimated development cost for your mobile app, make sure to include the maintenance charges in your budget.
Best Ways to Plan Your App Development Budget
So, now that you have a basic understanding of what might influence the app development cost, let’s dive into the process that’ll help you devise a development budget for your app.
1. Pick the Right Platform
The first step towards planning the app development budget is to choose the right platform. Do you want a single mobile app for a specific platform or two native apps for both iOS and Android or a dedicated platform-independent hybrid application? Before you set out to look for an app development company in India, make sure to answer this question as it’ll help you plan the budget and also filter out the unnecessary candidates from the list.
Choosing the right platform will depend on a wide variety of factors. For instance, if you want to target a wider audience and don’t want to compromise on the features either, it would be better to launch two separate native mobiles apps for both Android and iOS. Native apps can be configured to access all device sensors (something that’s limited for hybrid apps), and thus offer better functionality.
But, as we mentioned earlier, native app development will require you to hire two separate development teams (one for Android and the other for iOS), which will drastically escalate the overall development cost. So, if you don’t want to go beyond a certain price point and keep the expenses minimal, you would want to choose a hybrid app development. This will help you attract the same wider audience - but without burning a hole in your wallet.
2. Build an MVP First
Sometimes, there might be a huge difference between the features that you want to integrate and the money you are willing to spend on the app. In this case, building an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) will help you bridge this gap and still enter the market with a working mobile app.
For readers who don’t know, an MVP is an initial version of the mobile app that’s developed by only integrating the most essential features. The app is then launched among the masses to get real-time feedback in return. Ideally, MVPs are designed to improve the app structure for better customer retention.
But, you can also use MVP to pitch your app idea to investors. How? When you have a working model of your mobile app that already has a decent fanbase, investors are most likely to write down a check and invest in your idea.
3. Local or Off-Shore App Developers
A crucial factor that’ll help you plan your app development budget is the development firm you’re going to work with. As explained earlier, you can either hire a local development team or outsource the entire development process to a remote firm. Keep in mind that if you want to cut down the development costs, choosing the latter would be a more economical option.
Offshore development companies offer lower development rates (due to economical differences) and can help you build the app at a minimal cost. All you have to do is hire app development firms from countries like India where the development rates are pretty low.
4. Stay Prepared for Future Costs
The app development process doesn’t end with the final deployment. In fact, this is the phase when you’ll start encountering the real hurdles. Once your app is deployed, the development team will continuously monitor its performance and implement required changes to deliver a user-friendly performance.
During this period, you’ll have to pay the maintenance charges (and a few additional charges for customization) that will depend on the development team you’re working with. Each development firm follows a different costing model for its maintenance services.
While some companies include the maintenance charges within the overall package, others charge for it separately. So, make sure to ask your developers about the maintenance services and plan the budget accordingly.
It’s no secret that mobile apps have become a crucial element of running a business in the modern-day world. But, to build a mobile app, you must be familiar with the process to evaluate its development cost and avoid unnecessary charges. If you have a basic understanding of how much it would cost to build your mobile app, it’ll also become easier to find the most suitable app development companies accordingly. So, follow the above-mentioned tactics and devise a rough development budget for your mobile app idea.
Author: Ranjit Singh is the founder & Director of RV Technologies and has been an avid technical blog writer too. His passion for business and writing informative articles on mobile app development is commendable. With years of experience in the IT industry, he has been able to bring up the best marketing solutions through app development that guides you at each and every step.