Three factors that determine the cost of an app


There’s an app for that is now a common expression. But, if you’re a business owner, you may be wondering? How much does an app cost? The truth is, there’s no single answer for this question; cost actually depends on many factors. It’s akin to asking, “How long is a piece of string?” This article will delve into the details of how long that string can be: what factors drive up the quality and cost of a mobile app?

1) The type of app

The first factor in determining the cost of having an app developed is the type of app. There are four basic types: 1) data driven, 2) games, 3)device, and 4) bespoke functionality.

Data driven apps are more dynamic than simple apps. They are either stored on the device, or they retrieve data from an outside source. Game apps are just that- games. Think Angry Birds. Device apps make use of the hardware for its core functionality, e.g. camera, GPS. Finally, bespoke functionality apps are intended to solve a problem, to meet a need. These may have data driven features, but they will also have features specific to the problem’s solution, e.g. a time-management app.

2) Design Costs

The design and amount of coding required for your app will have an impact in the overall price. Both are important; you need a functioning app that presents itself well, but you also want one that engages the user.

The availability of your app will also affect cost. Will it be available on more than one device, i.e. Apple, Android, Windows Phone, etc.? Individual devices have different requirements, even within brands. For example, the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S have different graphics requirements, as do iPhones and iPads.

Rough estimates for design costs:

  • small simple app… $500 (€350)
  • large, complex and graphic centric app… $5000 and up (€3500+)
  • games… as much as $7500 (€5700)

Additional device types will increase the app design cost by 25%-50% each.

3) Development Costs

Again, these are rough estimates, but can be used as an overall guide.

  • Simple App – $2000 – $6500 (€1500 to €5000)
  • Data Driven App – $6500 – $45000 (€5000 to €35000)
  • Games – $10K – $230K (€7500 to €175000)
  • Device App – $2000 – $230K (€1500 to €175000)
  • Bespoke Functionality App – $6500- $230K (€5000 to €175000)

4) Total Costs

The total cost of your mobile app should be covered within the design an development costs. Once the app is created, there will be fees for creating the app store account ($99 for Apple apps, $25 for Android apps). Don’t forget to budget some funds for marketing.

5) Discount Buys and Bargain Prices

As with most things, if it seems to good to be true, then it probably is. Suppose an app developer quotes you a price that is significantly lower than anything you’ve read here or somewhere like this. Be ready to ask lots of questions. While they may want your business, the association to your specific industry, or technological knowledge or experience from working with you, they should be open to explaining their low costs. Be extremely cautious of those who are cheaper just because they are (translation: developing a great number of mediocre apps).

For the money you’re investing, you’ll want valuable service that will benefit your business. Make your decision on quality, not just on cost.