How Much Does It Cost To Build An App For your business In 2023
How much does it cost to build an app?
You’ve probably asked this question a time or two, especially if you are interested in app development.
According to the latest industry reports that the cost to create a mobile application is between $30,000 and $250,000, with an average cost of $171,450. Keep in mind that these figures are only estimates and the final cost may be significantly more or less based on the particular project's requirements.
But, how is this app development cost calculated?
This article provides an in-depth overview of the global software development market state. You will learn how to calculate app development costs, which factors influence the price, and how to effectively manage app development costs to avoid unexpected expenses in the future.
Here are a few points covered in the guide:
- app development cost breakdown for 2023
- key factors influencing the cost to develop an app
- calculation techniques for app development cost
- Development stage & how they impact the average cost of app development
- How Addevice estimates the cost of creating an app
Let’s dive right into the cost calculation.
How Much Does It Cost to Build an App?
Let’s start by answering several pressing questions.
How much does it cost to develop an app in 2023?
The final cost of an application depends on dozens of factors, but if we try to sum it up in a few sentences, we will have the following picture according to GoodFirm's extensive survey.
- The cost to develop a simple app in 2023 may range from $30,000 to $50,000. A simple app typically has basic features, such as a user interface, user registration and login, basic functionality and developed in 4,5 - 11 weeks. Examples of simple apps include flashlight apps, calculator apps, and weather apps.
- The cost to develop a complex app in 2023 may range from $100,000 to $250,000 or more. A complex app typically has more advanced features, such as third-party integrations, real-time updates, push notifications, advanced user interfaces and developed in 7 - 16 weeks. Examples of complex apps include social media apps, e-commerce apps, and gaming apps.
- The cost to develop an advanced app in 2023 may range from $250,000 to $1,000,000 or more. An advanced app typically has highly complex features, such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, machine learning and developed in 11,5 - 16 weeks. Examples of advanced apps include healthcare apps, financial apps, and enterprise-level apps.
How much does it cost to make an app by yourself?
If you have enough technical knowledge and expertise, you can create an app all by yourself. However, in most cases, app development is not one person's task. It’s a process that requires the whole team of developers, designers, project managers, and quality assurance engineers. Their united work can turn your idea into a full-fledged app in 3-6 months, depending on the number and complexity of features.
Now let’s take a deeper look into the process of answering the question, “how much does it cost to build an app?”
Factors Influencing the Cost to Develop an App
The question “how much does it cost to build an app?” is a complex one. The final cost of developing an app depends on seven key factors:
- Outsourcing vs. in-house app development
- Location and structure of a development team
- Features and functionality
- Android vs. iOS
- Native vs. Hybrid
- Visual design complexity
- Backend infrastructure
Let’s review each of the influential factors in more detail.
The first thing you need to decide is whether to develop an app in-house or outsource the process to a third-party development agency.
Working with an in-house development team has one main advantage – direct communication and complete control over the team.
Pros of working with an in-house team include
- Face-to-face meetings
- Direct communication
- Deep involvement
- High level of control
However, there is another side of the coin:
- Lack of talent on the local market
- Need for huge initial investments
- Dealing with hiring and bureaucratic problems
Working with an outsourcing company also has several disadvantages:
- Time zone differences
- Lack of personal control
Still, many companies decide to outsource mobile app development because its benefits are far greater than issues. The advantages of outsourcing app development are:
- Unlimited talent pool
- High level of expertise
- Lower rates
- No need for high initial investments
To make the right decision, you first need to analyze the two sides of the development process.
Whether you outsource app development or hire an in-house team, the question “how much does it cost to build an app?” still stands.
Location and Structure of a Development Team
If you decide to outsource app development, you will need to choose the country for it. A few options are available:
- Nearshore outsourcing – working with a company from your country or a nearby country. The time difference is no more than 2-4 hours.
- Offshore outsourcing – working with a company from anywhere in the world. The time difference surpasses 4 time zones.
The latter option brings along a number of challenges like the time difference preventing you from keeping in touch with your distanced development team. Still, many companies decide on this type of cooperation because of financial advantages. Moreover, you can still choose a country to outsource development with a few hours overlap that will allow you to stay in touch with your team and have everything done on time.
Take a look at the table below for information on how much companies charge for specific development services based on their location in 2022.
|Employee Title||North America||Central Europe||Eastern Europe||Latin America||South Asia||Southeast Asia|
|Business Analyst||$72 – $85||$50 – $80||$30 – 67||$23 – $40||$20 – $45||$25 – $35|
|Software Architect||$110 – $125||$60 – $100||$45 – $67||$45 – $75||$35 – $80||$30 – $50|
|Project Manager||$88 – $95||$50 – $70||$25 – $62||$41 – $68||$30 – $50||$24 – $50|
|Graphic Designer||$65 – $85||$55 – $70||$25 – $57||$44 – $70||$20 – $45||$24 – $50|
|Junior Developer||$55 – $80||$32 – $50||$22 – $31||$28 – $55||$21 – $30||$20 – $25|
|Middle Developer||$65 – $90||$36 – $70||$27 – $40||$27 – $60||$22 – $35||$25 – $30|
|Senior Developer||$78 – $125||$45 – $80||$30 – $59||$32 – $65||$25 – $50||$24 – $33|
|Lead Developer||$85 – $125||$50 – $100||$35 – $65||$28 – $70||$32 – $65||$24 – $35|
|Junior QA||$60 – $80||$26 – $70||$18 – $30||$35 – $45||$15 – $30||$20 – $26|
|Senior QA||$85 – $125||$40 – $80||$34 – $55||$41 – $60||$22 – $44||$24 – $33|
Native vs Hybrid App Development
You can’t answer the question “how much does it cost to build an app?” without knowing what type of app you are going to create. You can either develop a native or hybrid app depending on your requirements.
Native app development creates an application for a specific platform: iOS or Android. If you decide to target both groups, you will need to build two separate apps, automatically increasing the final app development cost.
Hybrid app development entails creating an app that will work on multiple operating systems. The main advantage of such apps is the lower cost to develop an app. At the same time, such apps have some disadvantages, which incites many companies to develop native apps. One of them is unstable performance, tricky user experience based on the device an app is being used, and technical limitations.
Android vs. iOS App Development
Android and iOS are two of the leading mobile operating systems in the world. You’ll probably want to create an app for one of the platforms.
It’s possible to go all the way out and create an app for each platform. In case you want to test your app idea and don’t want to risk a lot of money, you can start with an application for a single platform, iOS or Android.
How much does it cost to build an app for iOS or Android?
The prices don’t differ much, as the timeline is almost the same for both types of development. If you have a bigger budget, you can work on two applications simultaneously and launch them on the market.
Customization of Visual Design
The first thing users see when they open your app is design. You either make a good first impression or lose a chance to attract them.
Designing a UX and UI for your app will cost you $5,000 and up for 10-20 app screens. The cost of designing an app depends on the number of screens, visuals complexity, the need for custom elements, complex illustrations, and branding.
App Maintenance Costs
Answering the question “how much does it cost to build an app?” is not enough, as expenses don’t stop with app deployment and launch to the market. You need to understand “how much does it cost to maintain an app” and be prepared to spend on app support.
The app maintenance may cost around $21,000 annually (GoodFirms).
Another research shows that 50% of the app development cost will be spent on maintenance during the first year. For the second year, you will have to spend around 25% and 15%-25% for each subsequent year (Outsystems, 2018-2019).
App maintenance includes the following types of works:
- bug fixing and quality assurance
- stability and performance improvements
- code optimization
- upgrade to the latest OS versions
- implementation of new features
- support of the latest version of 3rd party services.
Therefore, when you plan your budget, it is important to divide it between two major spending patterns: cost to develop an app and app maintenance cost.
Features & Functionality
Knowing the answer to the question “How much does it cost to build an app:’ is impossible without understanding which features you are going to offer to your users. These are the most significant cost drivers, as some can take months to implement.
The average price to develop an app can shift in either direction based on the number and complexity of features you want to implement. Some of them, like push notifications, can eat up half of your app budget and reach hundreds of thousands of dollars in implementation.
Let’s answer ‘how much does it cost to build an app?’ based on the features you are going to implement.
- Hardware features
Those features are also called native device features, as they entail the use of device hardware. The latest smartphones have a lot of built-in capabilities, like internet connection, NFC, Bluetooth, etc. The development of such features can take a lot of time, from as little as 30 hours to 100 hours of app development.
- User login
This is probably the most important feature for the vast majority of modern applications. Depending on its logic and complexity, like the ability to remind a password, it might take 10 to 70 hours to implement them.
- User engagement
The features of this type include SMS, social media sharing, push notification, email, etc. – everything that helps you interact with users. Some features can be implemented with the help of APIs, while others need to be developed from scratch.
Depending on your requirements, it might take 25 to 145 hours to implement such functionality.
Features of this type are popular among apps, including food delivery applications, maps, etc. They can be implemented with the help of GPS and iBeacons, which will take from 10 to 150 hours of development time.
There are a lot of available payment gateways that you can use in your app for in-app payments, like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Stripe, PayPal, credit cards, Payoneer, etc. Depending on the complexity and customization, you might need to spend 20 to 200 hours on such functionality.
- Cross-device synchronization
If you create an application that can be used on iPhone and iPad, it might make sense to add a feature that would allow users to sync data between different devices. The development will take from 20 to 200 hours.
- Data encryption
Today, data encryption is a requirement in many countries. If you don’t want to have problems with GDPR and other regulations, consider adding such functionality to your application. The development can take 10 to 80 hours based on the used protocols, level of protection, and your personal requirements.
Here is how much companies usually pay for the implementation of some basic and flagship features:
|Dev Cost||Push Notifications||Ratings & Reviews||Native Integration||Web Portal||Performance Management|
Note: Please be aware that the above estimation is an approximation. The number of development hours depends on the type of app you decide to develop, features, and logic.
If you are interested in knowing ‘how much does it cost to build an app?’ of different types, take a look at the table below, proving approximate examples.
|App type||Features||App development cost||Timeline||Examples|
User profile management
Likes and dislikes
|~$45,000||~4-6 months||Tinder, eHarmony, Woo|
|Audio & video streaming app|
User profile management
Push and message notifications
|~$65,000||~5-7 months||Periscope, Twitch, Vimeo|
Sign up & login
User profile management
Auto syncing of contacts
Audit, video, location, contacts sharing
|~$70,000||~5-8 months||WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger|
Sign up & login
Share photos, videos, content
Send photos, videos, content
|~$80,000||~5-13 months||Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn|
Note: Please remember that the above numbers are an estimation for the first version of an application. Depending on the requirements, your project might turn into ongoing development and go beyond all timelines.
How Much Does it Cost to Build an App: Calculation Techniques
You can calculate how much it will cost to build an app by yourself. The formula for app development cost breakdown is simple: the number of hours multiplied by the hourly rate. Most companies provide a rough mobile app development cost estimate before the development stage begins so that you know how much money you will need.
Usually, app development companies use two main charging approaches:
- Fixed charge – this approach is mostly used for small projects with a very strict timeline and predefined scope of work. The main advantage of this calculation technique is the clarity in app development cost. You don’t have to wonder how much does it cost to build an app, as you know the final price even before the development starts.
- Time and material – this pricing approach differs from the first one in terms of flexibility. It is used mainly for complex projects that might have unexpected turns in development. The price is usually based on the hourly rate and time spent on development.
Even though you might feel anxious about the time and material approach, it offers a lot of benefits. With the fixed price structure, you cannot change anything during development. When working within the time & material frame, you are free to change the scope of work, add features or remove some even in the middle of the development process. Thus, you can build a highly customized app that your users will love.
Be sure to determine which pricing structure the company works with before you sign an agreement, as it can greatly influence the final cost to develop an app and the whole development approach.
App Development Cost Breakdown: Stages of Development
The answer to the “how much does it cost to build an app?” question wouldn’t be full without the definition of development stages and costs that are spent on each of them.
Software development is usually divided into the five major stages:
- Discovery stage
- UX and UI design
- Mobile app development
- App testing and quality assurance
- Ongoing maintenance and updates
Let’s see how each stage influences the final cost to develop an app.
The Discovery stage is also known as the analysis and planning stage. It’s the first step in app development for many companies. According to the research by Clutch, 70% of companies start with analysis and project planning. This phase usually involves the work of business analysts, UX/UI designers, software architects, and a product owner working on the following tasks:
- Thorough market research and competitor analysis
- Identification of potential users’ pain points and how the app can solve them
- Creation of the prototypes for app visualization
- Setting up all the steps during app development and determining a timeline
The cost of the discovery stage may from $5,000 to $25,000 and even go beyond. For the vast majority of projects, planning and analysis take 2-5 weeks.
UX and UI Design
This stage of mobile app development is fully dedicated to creating user flows, defining how users will interact with your application, and how the interface will look. This step is essential for creating a user-friendly product that will be easy to use and relevant to their expectations.
The cost to design an app starts at $5,000 and can go beyond $50,000. The price you will need to pay depends on the number of screens that should be designed and the overall complexity of your application.
Mobile App Development
How much does it cost to build an app? As you can see, many influencing factors can shift the cost to build a mobile app in either direction.
The minimum app development cost is $5,000-$10,000. A more complex mobile application will cost you around $50,000-$75,000 and reach $300,000+.
App Testing & Deployment
The cost of building an app also includes the stage of testing and app deployment.
Testing and quality assurance are essential in app development. This phase helps ensure that your app is ready for customers, does not have any problems, and provides an impeccable user experience.
In most cases, you will have to pay $5,000-$10,000 for app testing and QA services.
As you can see, answering the ‘how much does it cost to build an app?’ is not easy because a lot of influential factors are involved. In general, it depends on features complexity, the country to which you decide to outsource, and the company you are working with. For example, a small to medium app development company in Europe can charge you $25,000 to $115,000 for app development. If you decide to work with a company in the USA, the price will be much higher – $485,000-$730,000.
Key Hidden Cost Driving Factors
Even though you can know the answer to the ‘how much does it cost to build an app’ even before the development starts, companies often fail to meet the defined budgets. Many hidden mobile app development cost drivers are often overlooked.
- Multi-platform support
Companies that decide to start native app development often forget about implementing the support of other operating systems after the first version of an app is launched.
Solution: Conduct coherent market research to find which platform your target audience prefers. Plan for the first version of the app for the most popular platform. Launch the first version of your digital product to test the waters and collect customer feedback. Based on the received data, plan the development of the app for another operating system and include all the improvements from the start, thus saving money on further re-development.
- Integration of 3rd party services
During the development, your development team can conclude that your app needs integration with some third-party API, CRM, or service. It can significantly increase the app development timeline and, consequently, the cost of developing an app.
Solution: When you hire an app dev team, look for a company that offers the services of a mobile app architect. Such specialists will create your application's infrastructure and will think through all integrations, even with third-party services. Thus, you won’t have unexpected spending and shifts of development timeframe after you have started it.
- Marketing costs
What expenses do you include in the question ‘How much does it cost to build an app?’
Often, businesses overlook such an important spending pattern as marketing. Even before you launch your app to the market, you need to work on its promotion. You can start warming up your audience by releasing sneak peeks of your app, working with influencers to be your beta testers, and sharing their experience with their audience. After the launch, the marketing battle only starts.
Here are a few channels that you can include in your marketing activities:
- paid ads
- content marketing and guest publications
- SMM and email marketing
- influencer marketing
- Maintenance costs
Software development companies don’t include the maintenance cost in the app development price. This part is often overlooked and might create confusion. That’s why you need to be prepared that even after you launch your application, you will need to spend even more money after you launch your application.
App development cost usually takes only 35% of the whole budget that a company spends on app support over the next two years after its launch (Computerworld, 2012)
How Addevice Estimates App Development Cost
Now you know how much it will cost to make an app. At Addevice, we take the following approach to ensure that the budget is met and an app is delivered on time:
- Market research – before the development, we help our clients conduct comprehensive market research, analyze popular apps, define the target audience, and come up with a unique idea. We don’t advise cloning popular apps but finding a way to make your solution stand out.
- Start with the first app version – we advise our clients to start the development with a simple app version with a basic set of features to test your app idea.
- Ensure ongoing development – after you have successfully tested your idea, plan for further improvements and additional features. There is always a need for more app improvements, security updates, and so on.
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The minimum app development cost is $5,000-$10,000. . A more complex mobile application will cost you around $50,000-$75,000 and reach $300,000+.
App development cost depends on a number of factors, like the country to which you outsource the work, the company you work with, and the set of features you are going to include.
In 80% of cases, it takes 3+ months to develop an app. Almost 40% of all applications take 6+ months to create . The final timeline depends on the number of features and supported operating systems.
Mobile app maintenance costs are around $21,000 annually. 50% of the app development cost companies spend on maintenance during the first year. You will spend about 25% and 15%-25% for each subsequent year.