In recent years, the time spent by smartphone users on apps has significantly increased. Especially post COVID-19, there is exponential growth because people are hooked on digital platforms for entertainment, learning, education, infotainment, communication, ecommerce, and many more. Businesses are inclining all their ideas into apps that are centralizing the user’s experiences. The common question is, how much does it cost to develop a mobile app and bring ideas to life?

Cost of an app
You can investigate the development cost of an app by taking ideas from popular apps around the world. No public data is available for such app development, few factors might help set the cost of similar apps.

These factors include

App complexity
Complexity in an app shall determine its cost. For example, a simple app can have a survey tool with few forms to collect data and send it using email without storing it in the database. A complex app can be a Banking app or an Augmented Reality for a shopping experience. Therefore, the more complicated it is, the more it shall cost. Complexity can be simplified into two categories.

Simple apps are the ones that do not talk to the cloud-based web backend application to store data; instead, all the inputs are captured in a form and sent via email or rendered in the apps as output. The cost of developing such apps are comparatively lower than a complex app. On the other hand, complex apps have a web backend application with cloud storage and a database that does many operations to showcase results. The API and sophisticated programming of such apps land at the higher side of the cost based on functional and feature complexities and do not forget the 3rd party integrations.

App developers
From whom you get your app developed is also a deciding factor for the cost of the app.

In-house developers: You require a designer, developer, and product manager to develop a mobile app. Hiring a developer who is a jack-of-all-trades is a risky affair because rarest of the rare, right, and left brain comes together that could match your expectations. If you are an engineering-focused company, it is better to outsource your design requirements initially. Then when you have enough funding, you can hire a dedicated designer. Comparing the cost of an in-house app developer and outsourcing the same shows a vast difference in the rates. In-house app development cost is generally higher.

Freelance developers: Hiring freelancers instead of in-housing the job is an affordable option to develop an app. You need to be careful while partnering with them and follow a reliable procedure to hire them. Never employ a freelancer working full-time in a company rather than hire a full-time freelancer who has excellent customer ratings and has the necessary skills. Always hire freelancers using platforms like Freelancer.com or Upwork.com. Even with this model, you need to hire a designer if you are willing to do project management.

Onsite development agency: Many startups and emerging companies prefer to hire app development agencies. One of the very obvious reasons behind partnering with them is the amount of end-to-end expertise they possess to help their clients in any situation with diverse skills. However, it is not viable to make this choice if you lack sufficient funds as agency charges are quite higher in a city like San Francisco or New York.

Hybrid model: Hybrid Global Delivery Model is picking up significant momentum with most companies that are looking for highly skilled developers and project managers. They can seamlessly communicate and get work done with UX designers who are experts in user experience design and have outstanding UI & UX skills. This model has three sections: the Client team, On-site/Remote team, and offshore team.

In today’s digital economy, this is the far most reliable and cost-effective way to bring your ideas to life in the shortest span. Most providers who offer Hybrid model work on either Fixed or Time and Material (T&M) engagement.
The low-end firm’s rates are cheap, as these firms do not have the onsite team and infrastructure to support your requirements. Their focus is on cost arbitrage.

The mid-range firm’s rate lies somewhere in between the low end and premium app developer’s rate. These firms have a proven system and processes and are reliable to deliver your requirements. Around 50% of the mid-range firms have onsite/remote teams.

The firms providing quality/premium app development services charge high. These firms guarantee you an onsite team who will communicate daily, and they are located in your time zone. These are Senior Design Leaders/Technology Architects/Product Managers who bring not only technology experts, but they focus on seamless project management and communication who remove your headaches so that you can focus on your core business. Their offshore teams work round the clock and help you to market your app faster.

Outsourcing vs. Inhouse Development
There is a big difference in the cost, expertise and timeline, therefore it is imperative to study in depth.

Cost – getting an app developed by an outsourcing company is by far a cost-efficient option. Outsourcing companies have the skilled tech teams, proven delivery processes, and the expert advise of the leadership. They are far more efficient than your inhouse development teams because they work on an outcome based approach with a water-tight detailed Statement of Work. Hence they can’t be compared with your inhouse team.

Experts – the outsourcing company have a global talent pool; you don’t need to tame them and waste your time and energy to train them on the required skill set. They are quick in understanding your requirements and delivering as expected because they do hundreds of projects of similar nature. On the other hand, you need to train your in-house employees and wait for the team to sync with each other and your vision before starting the project.

Scaling the team – the great advantage with an outsourcing provider is you don’t need to worry about scaling your resources up or down. This is one of the key parameters that help you to go to market faster once they earn your trust.

Pros and Cons of outsourcing the job
Pros:
• Huge talent pool
• High level of expertise
• Cost-effective rates
• Agile and flexible

Cons:
• Lack of personal contact
• Time zone challenges

Pros and Cons of Inhouse development
Pros:
• Deep involvement
• Face-to-face meetings
• Straightforward communication

Cons:
• More expensive
• Lack of talent
• Reduced time to market

Are you looking at developing iOS or Android or both?
It is a highly debated subject on the perfect platform, which one should I go first, and how expensive the development of an iOS or Android app is. iOS developers are a little expensive than Android developers. But before deciding whether you require either iOS or Android or both, you must read the following points and help you decide which one is the right approach for you.

Native iOS – If your target market is the USA, then hands down, you must have an iOS app. Even though iOS holds 48% of the market share, iPhone demands far more excellent and smoother user experience than Android, especially in terms of rendering. When you create a native app, it works only on the platform, it is meant for, which could be iOS or Android.

Native Android – Google has steadily increased its market share in the US, and it is at 51.8%. But if your target audience is global, then you must have your app in the Play Store. If you go the native app way in both the platforms, then it is recommended to go one by one and not simultaneously since you can learn a lot by releasing in one platform and fixing the mistakes in the other.

Hybrid apps – A conventional question prospects ask us – What should I do if I want to go live with my mobile app at the same time in the App Store and Play Store? The best approach is developing a Hybrid app. Today the most popular Hybrid app framework is called React Native. One of the significant advantages of React Native is that it offers accelerated development that helps faster go to market.

The truth can be explained in simple terms that the cost and effort are almost the same for Android and iOS app development.

But, the screen size of android devices has a wider variety, which corresponds to its sophisticated design and development processes, mainly testing in many different devices. The time taken to develop Android apps is a little longer than that of iOS apps. This concludes that the expense of creating Android apps is higher, and thus, many companies prefer to create iOS apps to being with.

If you consider all the factors above, you can predict an approximate rate of getting an app developed in India and the USA.

In the USA,
The cost of developing either iOS/Android native mobile app for startups is around $40000, for mid-size companies, it is in the range of $40000-80000, and for large enterprises, it is about $75000-150000.

In India,
The cost of developing either iOS/Android native mobile app for startups is around $25000, for mid-size companies, it is in the range of $30000-50000, and for large enterprises, it is about $60000-90000.

If you go with the React Native Hybrid app, then you save half of the cost.
Keep in mind; these prices are not actual but approx.

Conclusion
Some aspects that you must keep in mind while determining the cost of app development are – app complexity, app design, functionality and features, and skilled resources. You must also evaluate the cost of cloud hosting based on server usage. This could potentially drain your budget, so you require a cloud architect who can advise you and monitor daily so that you can upgrade gradually based on user acquisition. Finally, don’t think that users will rush to use your app because you have built it. The concept of “Create beautiful apps they will come” is long gone. Instead, it would be best if you focused on unique and viral digital marketing techniques to let the users know about the value your app can create for them.

Believe in your ideas, have patience, and work towards achieving your goals one at a time.

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AuthorMuki Regunathan
24 years of entrepreneurial experience with a focus on design and technology. Muki has Invested in 19 start-ups with three successful exits. Over the last 17 years, Muki has worked with 300+ leading companies maximize their outcome with Digital Innovation. Enterprises, emerging companies, and startups partner with Pepper Square to solve their business problems with all things digital.
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