- Examples of popular apps and their average cost
- How is app development cost estimated- The formula
- How much does it cost to make an app?
- Factors that affect the cost of building an app
- Hidden costs of mobile app development
- How to reduce app development costs?
- App Development Process
- How do apps make money?
- How can Appinventiv help you with app development cost estimation?
Mobile apps are making the world go round. According to a report by Statista, as of the first quarter of 2021, the App Store had roughly 2.22 million apps. On the other hand, Google Play Store had nearly 3.48 million apps available, which were downloaded 108 billion times in the same quarter. These numbers project the unprecedented growth and popularity of the mobile app market.
With such popularity of apps, entrepreneurs and business leaders are also keen on developing mobile applications for their organizations. By the end of 2025, global mobile app revenues are expected to increase to $613 billion.
However, when talking about investment in app development, the most common question that strikes our mind is – how much does it cost to make an app?
In a nutshell, the mobile app development cost can range somewhere from $25,000 to $200,000+. This is a rough estimate because custom mobile app development cost depends on several factors such as the app’s complexity, features and functionalities, and more. In this article, we will go through all the important factors one by one.
However, before that, let’s look into some popular apps and discuss the cost of developing apps according to their complexities.
Examples of popular apps and their average cost
Below are the examples of a few popular apps that are redefining the customer experience and leading the app market. We have also mentioned the average cost of developing such apps.
Uber: Uber is a popular ride-sharing app that connects drivers and riders around the globe. Using the app, customers can request a car instantly or on schedule. Those requests are received by drivers nearby. The average cost of developing an app like Uber can range between $25,000 and $150,000.
Snapchat: With over 300 million daily active users, Snapchat has become a game-changer in the world of social media apps. This popular messaging app has been a pioneer in bringing augmented reality to its users through filters and interactive lenses. The app also allows you to share multimedia messages that will “self-destruct” in up to 10 seconds. The cost to build a Snapchat-like app can be somewhere around $45,000 to $60,000.
WhatsApp: It is an instant messaging app that allows users to exchange messages in real-time using the internet or wi-fi. It also enables users to make instant video/audio calls and capture and upload pictures or status. A cost to build a messaging app like WhatsApp would be in the range of $40,000 to $50,000.
TikTok: This video-sharing app has become inescapable and a major revolution in the entertainment world. TikTok allows users to lip-sync dialogues and re-enact their favorite scenes from different movies and music videos. The app also offers several filters and effects to enhance your videos and images. The average cost of developing an app like TikTok will be somewhere around $80,000 to $100,000.
Coursera: Coursera is an e-learning app that has gained amazing popularity among students and teachers due to the exceptional benefits it offers. The app offers a range of distance learning programs that include skill development courses to university degrees across the globe. The Coursera-like mobile app development cost will come between $76,500 to $103,000.
Netflix: Netflix is the world’s leading media streaming platform. It allows users to stream shows and movies at their convenience. The average cost of developing an app like Netflix is around $25,000 to $140,000.
|Popular Apps||Average Cost|
How is app development cost estimated- The formula
The formula or the answer to how much does it cost to create an app lies in calculating the number of hours it would take for every single one of the development process and multiplying it to the billable hours of resources.
How much does it cost to make an app?
As per a survey by Goodfirms, the average cost of developing a simple app is $3,800 – $91,000. A simple app comes with a set of basic user features such as a login system, user profile facility, dashboard and limited administration.
The cost of a medium complexity app is $55,000 – $131,000. A medium complexity app includes a plethora of features for user engagement and app monetization. Along with basic features, these apps include social media integrations, payment gateway, audio/video streaming, user privacy, etc.
One of the prominent examples of medium-scaled development can be Appinventiv building an innovative app for JobGet where job seekers and employers can message each other and schedule meetings in real-time. The app has helped to bring down the job search process from months to days for blue-collar workers. Till date, 150,000 jobseekers have been placed and the client has received $2.1 million funding for their innovative app idea.
A complex app could cost somewhere from $91,000 – $211,000. These apps are integrated with the latest technology such as AR/VR and AI. Such apps also include features like multi-language support, high-end data logic, and much more.
An example of a complex app project can be Appinventiv developing a core banking blockchain solution for Asian Bank to make crypto buying and selling easier for users. The app features support for wallet recharge and payments using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. The team’s primary objective was to widen the Asian Bank’s app horizon for the use of cryptocurrencies. The app has been downloaded 250k times and over 50k cryptocurrency transactions have been made.
|App Type||Estimated Cost||Time Taken|
|Simple app development||$3,800-$91,000||2-3 months|
|Medium complex app development||$55,000-$131,000||3-6 months|
|Complex app development||$91,000-$211,000||9+ months|
While this was the basic app development budget estimate as per a survey, the actual development cost may, of course, vary based on what you want to accomplish through the application.
The accurate mobile application development cost estimation also relies on certain factors such as the size and type of the project. In the next section, we will discuss a few important factors that affect the overall mobile app development cost. So, let’s get started!
Factors that affect the cost of building an app
Mobile app development cost is dependent on several factors that are of significance. Understanding those factors will help you make the most cost-effective decisions and will give you the best return on your development. It will also help you stay within your budget.
So, let’s dive into the major factors that affect the overall cost of mobile application development.
Features and functionalities
The answer to how much does it cost to create an app greatly depends on the features and functionalities you integrate into the application. The base price for the type of app you intend to build keeps on increasing with the addition of new features. The more features and functionalities your application has, the more expense you need to bear for your app development process.
So, it is advisable to concentrate only on the core features in the initial version of the app. It will help you offer a great customer experience at affordable costs. The best option is to get an MVP developed. It is the first version of a product with a basic set of features. MVP will save time and money and help garner valuable user feedback.
Let’s take a look at the approximate cost and development time required for basic features and then move on to the complex features.
Estimating the cost of core features
|Features||Function||Approximate Time||Average cost|
||30-42 hours||$500 – $1,000|
||25-32 hours||$1,000 – $1,200|
|Basic admin panel: User management||
|Basic admin panel: Push notifications||
Estimating the cost of complex features
|Features||Function||Approximate Time||Average cost|
Additionally, you might incorporate some unexpected changes during the development process. That’s why you need to take such costs into account and plan the budget with an added expense line.
The answer to how much does it cost to make an app varies greatly from category to category. When we move from one category to another, a lot of things change like the number of users, functionalities, security criteria, etc. which ultimately leads to varying costs to develop an app.
Stand Alone Apps – These apps don’t need a network to run, nor are they dependent on any device feature. Such apps are marked by low data and development cost: a win-win for both – the users and the business. Example- Clock, Calendar.
Such types of apps cost somewhere around $5,000 to $15,000 and require 600 – 900 hours for development.
Social Networking Apps – What was started by Facebook is only carried further by a number of other brands.
The common features of a social networking app include – integration with other apps and device functionality like media files and camera, real-time messaging, use of location-based service, real-time sync, and the latest trend of in-app purchases.
Because it has to serve millions of users at the same time in a secure environment and a real-time ecosystem, the cost to build an app in the social media platform category tends to be high.
Social networking apps like Tinder or WhatsApp cost somewhere around $50,000 to $200,000+.
On-Demand Apps – When businesses develop an on-demand app, they develop an app that caters to three people – the user, the person delivering the service, and the business. And, the UI and app flow is entirely different in all of them, which adds to the development cost to a great extent.
Along with that, the category calls for a number of features like in-app payment, real-time sync, real-time tracking, chat support, rate and review support, and notifications, among others.
Since through an on-demand app, a mobile app development company is developing three apps, its cost also rises to a huge extent
On-demand apps like UberEats or Lyft require somewhere around 2,000 and above development hours and cost somewhere around $50,000 to $100,000.
Enterprise Mobile Apps – Enterprise mobile apps, unlike other app categories, need to be more precise. As the apps are to be used by employees as a supporting element to smooth their process and because the app should be developed in a way that it grows as the business grows, the development efforts are much higher in enterprise apps.
Enterprise mobile apps cost somewhere around $50,000 to $175,000. At Appinventiv, we built an application with an ERP solution for IKEA that not only gave customers the real-time status of products’ availability but also collected their information to then use as marketing assets. Our efforts led to the creation of a solution that is today getting adopted at over 7 more IKEA stores. The solution is also touted by the brand as one of the biggest sources of ROI measurement.
For another client Adidas, we built an end-to-end application for their Middle Eastern users. We used the latest technologies and frameworks for both Android and iOS to create an engaging shopping experience for their customers. The app has been downloaded 2 million times to date. Also, the company has 500k new users.
App design & animation
The next factor that adds to the answer to how much does it cost to make an app is app design. Ensuring that your users invest their time in your app, calls for a specific focus on app design. When deciding on app design, we generally have two options – Custom and Standard UI. Customized UI is much more difficult to design and implement than the Standard UI, which makes it more expensive.
We recently developed an innovative mobile app for Pizza Hut for their Middle-East users. Our experts built an engaging UI/UX allowing users to easily navigate and order food in a few clicks. Furthermore, our team integrated unique features to automate food ordering and delivery right at the customer’s doorstep eliminating unexpected delays. The app has been downloaded 50k times till date and the conversion rate has increased by 30%.
Wireframing – The user experience map and features are structured through wireframing, which we draft using tools such as Balsamiq, Photoshop, and MARVEL. Every wireframe is approved by the client to create a final app screen flow.
In case the client has a wireframe ready, the cost of developing one is not included.
UI design – For all the Android apps that we develop here at Appinventiv, we use Material Design to introduce the essence of creativity and simplistic boldness in our mobile app designs.
As for the iOS App Development, we make use of the clarity and depth that comes with Flat Design.
Animation – Animation plays a vital role in some types of app categories like gaming or social media apps like Snapchat. The design and coding of animation are counted as a complicated process, which increases the app design cost.
The app design cost varies depending on the above-mentioned factors. It could be a simple one and require somewhere around 150 hours or it could be a complex one and require around 400 development hours.
When getting started with the mobile app development process, it’s important to choose a platform. Depending on your target audience, you can choose to build an iOS, Android, web, or cross-platform application. If you are a startup with a minimal budget, it’s better to opt for one platform initially, later on, you can shift to multiple platforms.
Native apps (Android & iOS) – While there is hardly any cost difference between Android and iOS apps, Android app cost tends to get higher when a number of devices with different OS versions are involved, something that is hardly ever an issue in iOS. Language-wise, iOS app development happens on Swift and Objective C, while Android App Development is done on Java and/or Kotlin. Know how much it costs to develop an iOS application.
Web app – Apps like Progressive Web Apps and other forms of web apps are much cost-efficient as compared to native apps. In terms of cost of development, web app development cost amounts to somewhere in the range of $15,000 to $50,000.
Cross–Platform apps – Getting an app developed for both iOS and Android simultaneously is the new cost-efficient trend. The platform comes with a series of benefits like single code use and less development effort. The cross-platform industry is presently divided between Flutter and React Native platforms.
Flutter – A new entrant in the market, Flutter comes with its own series of advantages in terms of complete native experience, the support of detailed documentation, and the app running time of 60 FPS. But, since the platform is fairly new and the availability of Dart programmers is still fairly less, the cost of Flutter app development is on the higher side.
Flutter app development cost ranges from somewhere around $15,000 to $40,000.
React Native – React Native over time has become synonymous with cross-platform app development. There are a number of brands that have adopted the framework for making a presence on both Android and iOS simultaneously. When compared to native app development and Flutter app development, React Native app development is much more cost-effective.
React Native app development cost ranges from somewhere around $15,000 to $50,000.
Hybrid apps – Hybrid Apps are a blend of both native and web apps. While it is installed like a native app, it runs in a webview component.
There are three frameworks that are widely used for hybrid app development – PhoneGap, Ionic, and Sencha Touch. However, over time hybrid apps have lost their position to cross-platform native app development which is offered by React Native and Flutter.
But, there are still brands that wish to get Hybrid apps developed, because of the costing which is somewhere around half of the native apps.
|Type of App||Average Cost|
|Web apps||$15,000 to $50,000|
|React Native||$15,000 to $50,000|
|Cross-platform apps||$25,000 to $40,000+|
|Native apps (Android & iOS)||$50,000 to $100,000|
|Hybrid apps||$10,000 to $150,000|
Undeniably, expenses do not come to an end at the last stage of the mobile application development process. Businesses will have to continue changing their apps to keep up with the varying market trends and new device & OS versions, which comes with a cost.
App bug fixes – There is no such thing as a bug-free mobile app. In most cases, there are bugs that are only highlighted once the app is published. You will have to keep a lookout for those bug fixes.
Design changes – App designs are the one element of a mobile app that tends to get old and stop enticing users. It is very important for a brand to not let their app design get outdated if they wish to keep their users hooked.
App maintenance cost is calculated yearly at the valuation of 20% of the whole mobile app development cost.
Location of app developers
Location of app developers is another crucial factor that decides the overall app development costs. For instance, the cost of app development in North America is different from app development costs in other countries such as Australia. This is due to the fact that the quality of services around the world vary significantly in terms of quality as well as cost.
Below we have given a table with the average cost of app development based on different geographical locations:
|Central Europe||$40 per hour|
|South America||$45 per hour|
|UK||$70 per hour|
|Australia||$90 per hour|
|North America||$150 per hour|
It’s one of the factors that bring the mobile application development cost slashing down. When businesses decide to reuse the code of an existing app in their own app and just change the branding elements, the mobile application development cost becomes much less.
However, at Appinventiv, we advise businesses to reuse only the common elements like contact us, login, etc. and develop the rest from scratch, otherwise, it would become impossible to maintain a separate brand identity.
The cost for app development when the existing codes are used is 20 – 30% less than the cost of an app that is coded from scratch.
Depending on who is developing your mobile application – freelancer or a large-cap app development agency, the cost to make an app would vary.
A freelancer or a company of 5 to 10 people team which is just starting will charge less to help create their work portfolio, while the large-cap companies with thousands of employees and industry expertise may charge comparatively more for mobile application development and deployment.
There is a considerable amount of cost difference that comes up because of the varying team size. While freelancers and small shop companies are made of a developer and a tester, the rest is outsourced. Mid and large cap companies like ours are made of a development team that looks like this –
So, these were all the factors that answer how much does it cost to build an app. Now, we will discuss the hidden costs that are often overlooked when developing an app.
Hidden costs of mobile app development
In this section, we will be discussing the most common hidden costs of mobile app development projects. Understanding these factors will help reduce risks, as well as save time and money. So, without further ado, let’s dive into each of them in detail!
Depending on the size of your app, you may also need to hire a quality assurance agent or a project manager as well. You might also require business analysts to help you keep the development cost low and within your app development budget.
Infrastructure costs include expenses for data storage, data delivery and app hosting. All of this adds to both the cost and complexity of a project. Examples of infrastructure cost items include servers, data storage, and development tools and libraries.
IT support costs
You can’t make a high-quality app without IT support services and continuous technical support. However, the support costs may increase over time. Examples of IT support services include iOS and Android updates, bug fixing, and API maintenance.
App publishing costs
When developers build apps, they keep in mind the app store requirements. When it comes to app store fees, it’s not that significant. When submitting an Android App on Play Store, you will have to pay a one-time fee of $25. Apple, on the other hand, charges $99 per year.
In case you want to distribute your app exclusively within your organization, you will need to pay $299 a year to join the Apple Developer Enterprise Program and provide your app via the App Store. Google Play doesn’t charge the service.
App security is a major concern. Users need to trust your app with their information. For this reason, you should have a proper security plan in place. If you consider this point at the start and include time for testing and security checks in advance, everything will be fine. If this is not the case, the costs will be higher and may be accompanied by financial and reputational losses.
How to reduce app development costs?
Fortunately, businesses owners and entrepreneurs can reduce the costs of developing mobile apps by following a few industry practices and applying some useful tricks. In this section, we will take a closer look at the steps that companies can use to reduce overall custom app development costs.
Prioritize features early on
When building an app, it’s crucial to prioritize your app features correctly. It’s a smart move to prioritize the functionalities of your app to start driving business value as quickly as possible. You can save the nice-to-have elements for the later stages of development.
Hence, it’s advisable to build a minimum viable product (MVP) first. It is the first version of a product with a basic set of features. MVP helps determine whether or not the product has the potential to succeed. It also enables startups to engage the first users and understand the audience’s needs.
Involve quality assurance early on
Since your application is prone to bugs and errors, you need to address them as soon as possible. By involving QA professionals right from the beginning, you can identify serious problems and bugs before the development phase begins. As a result, you will save up a huge amount that might become very high in the middle of your project.
Plan for the future
The app built today might look completely different in the future. For example, if you build an MVP, you might want to change some features on the basis of customer feedback. Your target market might evolve in a completely new direction, forcing you to change your product as well.
That’s why it’s wise to be mindful of short-term and long-term goals when developing an application. It will save you plenty of money in the long run.
In-house or outsourcing
Choosing the type of mobile app development staffing structure is an important element of your project planning. Your final decision will influence budget costs, workflow structure, and even the product maintenance concept. So, the ultimate question is what to choose – outsourcing or in-house development.
The key advantage of in-house development is physical proximity to the development team which means faster development and simpler communication. In in-house app development, you can either select a new team or choose from employees that you already have. This means that the company needs to provide office space and proper infrastructure to the team.
Outsourcing is when you hire an already established team for the development project. In order to outsource the app development process, the company gets access to a pool of exceptional talent to choose from. It also allows you to cut down on office expenses and equipment costs and minimize internal workflow.
You can employ teams from across the world and take advantage of their cost-effective services that often come with high quality. Both the development approaches have their own advantages and disadvantages. So, choose wisely as per your needs and requirements.
In case you’re still not sure about what to choose for app development, read our detailed article on in-house vs outsourcing.
Consider cross-platform development
Every entrepreneur when launching an app faces a dilemma – whether to launch for just Android, iOS, or both platforms. Creating native apps for both platforms is not cost-effective. If you create an app for just one platform, you can potentially miss out on a large chunk of the user base on the other platform.
The best solution is to develop cross-platform apps that work on both platforms. Twitter is one of the best examples of a cross-platform mobile app. Popular technologies for developing cross-platform apps include Flutter, Unity 3D, React Native, amongst others.
App Development Process
To build a successful app for your business, you need to go through the stages described below:
Research the target market
When developing an app for your business, you need to conduct research and find out more about your target market. This will help you get a clear picture of the market dynamics, how consumers interact with brands, leading players, and more. You should also dive deeper into user reviews for top apps in the market. This will help you to come up with a better product.
Choose the right platform
Your application can be compatible with both Android and iOS platforms. But, in case you have a confined budget, you can develop just an Android or iOS app. After that, you can boost your service so it can perform on another platform also.
Hire an app development company
Hiring a trusted and reliable app development company will ensure that your app includes all the latest features and functionalities at minimal costs. A mobile app development company consists of app developers, UI/UX designers, project managers, and market specialists who offer valuable suggestions and always consider your vision. The company also offers access to industry expertise and latest technologies.
If you want to validate your app idea without spending a fortune, consider developing a minimum viable product (MVP). For a successful MVP creation, ask your app development company to identify must-have features and key USPs and then develop an app accordingly.
Test your app
Testing is another crucial step to consider when developing an app for your business. Test everything from the app’s performance and user experience to content. Proper testing helps reduce the development time and cost, identify bugs, and greatly improve your reputation as a service provider.
Submit app to stores
Once you’re satisfied with your app’s testing, you can submit your app on the Play Store or Apple’s App Store. However, when publishing an app on the App Store or Play Store, you need to comply with Apple’s and Google’s developer guidelines. Also, you need to align your monetization model with their requirements.
Launch and track performance
Once you launch your app on app stores, make sure to track its performance with the in-app analytics tools implemented during the development phase, introduce updates to increase user engagement, and address users’ requests and concerns.
Now that we have understood the steps to build an app and also seen how much it costs to build an app, it is time to look at the business-cum-revenue side of the app. So, next, let’s look into the ways an app makes money.
How do apps make money?
While there are multiple ways to monetize an app, in this section, we will discuss a few most popular revenue channels for apps that you may opt for individually or in combination to earn more revenue and enhance customer value. So, without further ado, let’s look at these monetization models one by one.
It is one of the most popular ways to earn money from an application. In this monetization model, you promote services or products for third-party clients on your application, and in return, get paid.
In this monetization model, users are allowed to access basic features for free. To access premium features, they are required to pay a certain amount. Freemium also offers the scope for implementing secondary revenue channels such as in-app advertising.
In this model, a user will have to buy a subscription plan to access the features for which the app is mainly famous for. There can be many options under this model such as monthly subscription, yearly subscription, or per-day subscription. Major platforms like Google and Apple allow users to manage subscriptions through them.
The sponsorship model involves finding a sponsor related to your niche and striking up a compensation structure. In return for the monetary compensation, the app could include the sponsor’s brand, advertise its products, or send users to its website.
How can Appinventiv help you with app development cost estimation?
So, how much does it cost to create an app? Well, it’s quite evident that there is no clear-cut answer for this question. Considering all the influencing factors should help you arrive at a nearly accurate cost for turning your innovative app idea into a reality.
In case you still feel that calculating the final cost of mobile application development is strenuous, you can consult a reliable app development company like Appinventiv for top-notch mobile app development services. The experts here specialize in building and launching the most innovative and scalable app with next-gen features and functionalities.
We recently helped a global bank automate its banking processes using AI and ML technologies. Our team integrated an AI-based chatbot assistant in the bank’s web and mobile apps that runs in seven different languages.
This helped our client to reduce manual processes by 35% and improve accuracy by 50%. Also, they can now handle over 50% of customer service requests through chatbot, thus reducing the manpower costs by 20%.
For another client Domino’s, we helped redefine UI/UX strategy to increase its mobile app conversion by 23%. The users are now spending more time within the app to place their orders and also track them in real-time.
So, in case you are planning to build such innovative apps or want to get a rough estimate for creating an app for your business, contact us.
Q. How much does it cost to make an app?
A. Though it’s impossible to figure out the exact custom app development cost, here are the approximate costs:
Simple apps: $38,000 to $91,000
Medium complex app development: $55, 550 and $131,000
Complex app development: $91,550 and $211,000
Q. How much does it cost to maintain an app?
A. During the first year after launch, your costs of maintaining an app can be 50% of the initial app development cost. Later on, your yearly budget for app maintenance can be somewhere between 15% to 20% of the initial cost.
Q. How long does it take to build an app?
A. On average, apps can take anywhere between three and nine months to develop, depending on the complexity of the app and structure of your project.
Q. What are the factors that affect the overall app development costs?
A. Some of the factors that affect the app development costs include features and functionalities, the complexity of the app, location of developers, and more.