Mobile App Development

How To Estimate The Mobile App Development Cost

  • Published on : December 26, 2022

  • Read Time : 29 min

  • Views : 2.3k

How To Estimate The Mobile App Development Cost

Mobile applications are the fastest emerging trend that has taken upon our lives. Enhanced, how we live and almost turned our existence upside down.

Proved like a game-changer for enterprises, corporate brands, and business owners to connect to their customers, Mobile apps have directly impacted consumers purchasing behavior. Consequently, helped businesses achieve a real bottom line.

Thanks to this incredible evolution and adoption of smartphones and tablets. Mobile app usage has soared impressively. And interestingly, the potential of the mobile app to boost sales has examined a direct effect on mobile app development services.

Businesses from all corners of the world are vying to develop mobile apps to connect to their customers. Results are such, the determined reliance and fascinating outcomes have mounted the mobile app revenues to reach over US$430.90bn in 2022, which is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2022-2026) of 9.27%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$614.40bn by 2026.

This is encouraging news for anyone who is planning to build an app. But this doesn’t sound simple.

When you come down the market to get your app idea rolling, you scramble to hire an app development company that develops and delivers the best-in-class product at a standard price.

In a gust to get real pricing, you even perform market research and request quotes from multiple software companies. But find no standard answer.

In this guide, we’re going to uncover all the factors that influence mobile app development costs. From discovery and design to development and quality assurance, from team locations to cost calculation formula, get a deeper understanding of all such factors.

However, make a note that this blog is written based on our own personal experiences and perspectives. It may vary from company to company.

Factors Affecting the App Development Cost

It’s not only the hourly rates team structure and location of the company that affects the total cost of mobile app development. There are other factors as well that influence the app budget. Let’s discuss them in detail.

Factors Affecting the App Development Cost

1. App Discovery

Before the entire hefty process of mobile app development starts and before a final pitch is made to the client regarding a rough estimate of the cost. The app idea is verified and validated.

It’s like a pseudo-market environment created to see how well the app will do when it reaches upfront. There are a few ways in which an app development company evaluates and constructs a report card for the app idea. Let’s take a look:

Market Research

Primarily, an app development company has to do a Competitive analysis before validating the app idea. The main motive behind doing it is to identify the business model, assess the need for your product in the market, and evaluate the current potential of competitors. Their strengths, weaknesses, and features are relative to or in comparison to that of your entire app.

Why is doing market research important? It is to make sure that your app idea is valid or credible, it is unique and is going to bring a new concept/ fresh idea to the table. Moreover, it also portrays reliability. A few Market research strategies could be:

  • Defining the Target Audience: Based on demographics, lifestyle, and spending habits.
  • Conducting Competitor Analysis: To know how much the idea has worked so far.
  • SWOT analysis: To determine your app’s ideas strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and, challenges.
  • Building a business plan: Building a roadmap that covers strategies to build revenue, sales, market, and profit.

User Personas

Buyers or users are the final consumers of any mobile app. As such to sustain this competitive pressure of the market, it is crucial to know what the users think about the app idea.

Thus, app development companies consider using user personas. They create a group of imaginary customers based on the responses of research and analysis on a target audience.

Created during the early stages of app development, the entire idea is to get honest feedback from your ideal customers, like what they think and do when they face a problem, what motivates them to take action, and what are the aspects that influence their decisions, and so on. A few benefits of constructing a user persona are:

  1. Deep understanding of customer behavior and needs
  2. Discovering your target users
  3. Validates customer demands
  4. Helps in better decision-making – focused on user needs and goals

Market Capitalization

Similar to that market valuation, app ideas have to go through a market check. Like gathering data to know the worth of the app idea, the amount of revenue, and the funding it can generate. Market capitalization also helps in determining the market identity of the product based on functions that are different from competitors. A few advantages of market capitalization are:

  1. Most convenient and widely used method for evaluating a company.
  2. Helps in gaining stability
  3. Can also be used to build an expansive and market-leading portfolio

The estimated time taken in the entire process of App Discovery is somewhere between 40 to 80 hours.

2. Project Analysis and Scope Statement

This is where the structuring of a proper apparatus for app development takes place. In this step, the project manager defines and outlines all the resources, features, deliverables, and technology architecture covering your project which is called a project scope document or product requirement document.

This is where your app is characterized and the cost is estimated considering the following factors:

App Complexity

This is the budget-deciding factor of any app development process. The complexity of the app i.e. the features and functions determines the cost of developing the app idea. Generally, additional features demand higher investments.

However, 5 subcategories draw the basic outline for app development and its cost.

1. Deployment Architectural Model: The backend systems help businesses borrow user information and reform them into solutions. There are two types of backend development – Custom and BaaS.

2. Custom backend: This helps you build a unique and scalable product.

3. BaaS: Backend as a service (BaaS) is a readymade backend architecture that takes less time to market with minimum cost and development efforts and covers a wide range of functionalities.

4. Third-Party Software Integration: With the motive of improving app experience and easing functionality to attract and retain customers, third-party integration plays a key role. It is a means to seamlessly integrate additional apps that are already in use to streamline users’ work or lives. For instance, integrating social media tools like Facebook for app login, or payment gateway integration like PayPal, and Stripe for easier payments.

5. Admin Panel Development: It is the front end and the tool for managing and operating the content management system (CMS) of your website. It independently tracks activities and stats and self-sufficiently updates content, without any developer’s involvement.

6. In-app purchases: An integral part of today’s online industry, the in-app purchase feature is a must-have feature designed to increase sales and improve brand awareness.

As the app complexity increases the mobile app development costs also increase. Depending upon all the above factors App Complexity can be categorized under three app types:

APP TYPE DEVELOPMENT TIME DESCRIPTION
SIMPLE APP ~3 months
  • MVP Features
  • Basic UI Components
  • Pre-Defined Template
  • Basic Analytic Features
MID-LEVEL APP ~5 months
  • Integration with API
  • Custom UI components
  • Real-time messaging
  • Additional Features
COMPLEX APP ~7+months
  • High Functionality App
  • Custom App Design
  • Real-time Sync
  • Maintenance

App cost depends on its complexity

So, if you have a defined budget, prioritizing features to fit within your bracket would be a good decision.

  • App Category

Google’s App store identifies 33 types of app categories whereas Apple’s App Store identifies 24 types. The type of category determines how much the app is going to cost. There is a considerable amount of difference that takes place when moving from one category to another, such as features and functionalities, program and design, no. of integrations, etc. However, all the mainstream categories can be clubbed into somewhere around four categories. They are:

Social Networking Apps: The influence of social networking apps is beyond comparison. These apps have specific features that are concentrated only on functionalities that support the social domain. A few common features of such apps are that they support integration with in-built apps such as camera, messaging, GPS, or location-based service, real-time sync, and in-app purchase features.

Popular E.g.: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp Developed by Codiant: Autism Connect, Fantopias, Rezieo

Time: 12 weeks

Cost: $24,000+ per platform

Team: Project Manager, Business Analyst, UI/UX Designer, Backend developer, QA, DevOps personnel.

On-Demand Apps: It is a multi-purpose app created for stakeholders like users, delivery boys, and business owners. These apps are customized according to the need of the industry, with features and functionalities that are either specific according to business owners or generic which are mandatory for the app to function. Majorly these apps connect customers with different service providers. These apps are present in every field such as taxi, healthcare (on-demand doctor), beauty, food delivery, education, and logistics. Everything is available at a tap.

Popular E.g.: Uber, Swiggy, Grofers, Postmates Developed by Codiant: SIX taxi app, Bolt, Brilliant Move

Time: 14-16 weeks per platform

Cost: from $30,000 and up per platform

Team: Project Manager, Business Analyst, UI/UX Designer, Backend developer, QA, DevOps personnel.

eCommerce Apps: As eCommerce apps let you buy and sell commodities online at the shopper’s convenience even the simplest app requires features like user registration, product catalog, shopping cart, payment gateways, admin panel, etc. This marketplace platform cost breakdown is estimated by the approx. time is taken by the development team to build these features.

Popular E.g.: Amazon, eBay, Etsy Developed by Codiant: Whoisshewearing, Tracker, Fasla

Time: 12 weeks per platform

Cost: $25,000+ per platform

Team: Project Manager, Business Analyst, UI/UX Designer, Backend developer, QA, DevOps personnel.

Enterprise Mobile Apps: It is application software that helps in rectifying enterprise problems, it has a huge database and a complex structure. With the increase in BYOD (bring your device) trend most enterprises have resorted to apps. It decreases the risk of losing sensitive company data.

Examples: Team Management Apps, CRM Apps, SCM Apps Developed by Codiant: Elcaro

Time: 6 months per platform

Cost: $50,000+ per platform

Team: Project Manager, Business Analyst, UI/UX Designer, Backend Developer, QA, DevOps Personnel, Technical Architect, Database Architect, Technical Writer

3. UI/UX Development

The UI/UX development or say app designing and animation improves the overall experience of the users and customer satisfaction when they interact with the app.

The UX (user experience) design is concerned with app interaction like how easily the user can interact with the app and complete the goal.

While the UI (user interface) is all about app aesthetics where the UI designers make the interface visually stimulating and attractive to match the app’s personality.

The app designing process is generally carried out in the following stages:

  • Information Architecture:

The IA focuses on organizing, structuring, and labeling content in a way such that users can understand where they are, what they’ve found, what action to take, and what to expect next.

  • Wireframing:

Also known as the skeleton of the user interface, it consists of all main features, contents, and functions. It is a plain app structure without an animated design. Used to test functionalities without carrying out the long developmental process.

  • App Prototyping and Strategy:

These are the detailed clickable prototype or say preliminary visualization of a working product that gives you a clear picture of how your app works. It also helps you in validating the strategic design direction of a product.

  • User Interface Design:

These are the high-fidelity prototypes or app’s visual design that includes all fancy animations, appearance, colors, icons, and fonts that defines the brand.

The cost to develop an app design varies on all the above factors. A standard UI takes around 100 hours while a customized standard UI takes somewhere around 280 hours.

Related Reading: Unlock the User Experience Design Process Guide

4. App Platform

App Platform

The next factor that affects your mobile app development cost is the type of app platform you choose for your app. Mostly, business owners prefer to build apps for Android and iOS. But in some cases, hybrid apps and web apps also make sense. Let’s understand the types:

  • Native Apps: Developed for a single operating system or device, native apps are apps built for use on a specific application.
    • Pros:
      • High-performing app imparting substantial user experience exclusively to native device users.
      • They are fast and responsive
      • Extensive diversity of APIs
      • Wider reach to the target audience
      • Available on the App Store or Play Store
    • Cons:
      • Takes longer to build, needs maintenance, and is slightly expensive.
  • Hybrid Apps: Hybrid apps are a blend of both native and web solutions. Where the core of the application is written using web technologies. For e.g.: CSS, JavaScript, HTML, and HTML5.
    • Pros:
      • Multiplatform in nature.
      • Simplified, quick to build, and deploy
      • Single coding interface for seamless functioning on multiple platforms.
      • A hybrid app can be built just once and released on both Android and iOS.
      • Cheaper to create than a native app
    • Cons:
      • Lacks speed, performance, and optimization
  • Web Apps: These are internet-enabled apps that have specific functionalities for mobile devices. Such apps have similar behavioral tendencies to those of native apps. They are accessed through the web browser of a mobile device and they don’t need to be downloaded and installed on the device. When talking about web apps, one cannot miss talking about progressive web apps developmentDespite being similar to regular web apps, it has slightly more defined functionalities such as offline access, hardware access, and push notification. Access via the app icon redirected to the URL site, it is the modern-day tech directed at providing a flawless experience on the web and mobile devices.
    • Pros:
      • Saves device memory
      • Access to all types of devices from multiple databases and the web
    • Cons:
      • No access to numerous APIs
      • Performance influenced by external factors such as browser compatibility and network connectivity

5. Features & Functionalities

The number of features, functionalities, and complexities involved influences the mobile app development cost the most. As it is the direct testimony of the number of hours a developer took to develop a particular feature. This makes it obvious, the more the number of features, the more time it requires to design and build the app.

Furthermore, if your app needs complex features that employ advanced technologies like Augmented Reality, Machine Learning, AI, VR, Blockchain, IoT, etc. the budget will go even more.

6. Third-party Services

Depending on what kind of third-party services you are using, periodic costs for cloud hosting and other third-party and API integration services like payment gateways, social logins, and map integrations increase the cost of mobile app development.

An experienced app development company always keeps the significant factors like pricing models, technical support, and data privacy to keep the price balanced and justified.

7. App Deployment

There are two main components to deploying the mobile app. First, involves deploying your API into a scalable production environment. Second is deploying your app to the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

The Play Store and Apple App Store have certain protocols and screeners. Call it an eligibility test for apps in the process of launch. Proper configuration and documentation in the form of marketing material, descriptions, and screenshots have to be sent. This entire app is accorded, adhering to community guidelines.

8. App Maintenance

Once an investment is made it requires maintenance, and for sure it costs time, effort, and money. However, app maintenance is also a component of the overall cost of app development. The following sub-headings will give you a brief idea of the typical charges that imply.

  • App Updates App updates can be classified into two types: major and minor. The major update involves an overhaul of the app UI, look and feel, adding new features, etc. Whereas, Minor updates deal with day-to-day bug fixes.
  • App Bug Fixes It is undoubtedly true that once the app is launched, complaints about bugs and glitches will be common. The best way to test any app is to unleash it in the market, the more it is tried and tested the more fixes can be done.
  • Design Changes One of the crucial elements is app design. The appeal of an app engages customers. However, this is the very element that needs a constant creative update.
  • Third-Party Services: A lot of third-party apps are paid, hence requiring regular monitoring to keep the services running. Overall, it influences the app development cost and annual maintenance budget as well.

9. App Security

Applications need to be secured from external threats like malware, hackers, and other digital frauds. A breach in an app’s security can risk losing personal data, payments and banking information, real-time location, and more. The cost of protecting your app against such vulnerabilities increases the overall cost of the app.

Recommended Read: A Detailed Guide To Mobile App Development

Outsourcing, Outstaffing, or In-House Development?

As per the project’s requirement and available resources, any of the following three options can be exercised for mobile app development.

Project Outsourcing

Outsourcing is handing over the entire project to another company till deployment and monitoring the project periodically.

It is one of the fastest modes to get the project developed and simply by finding the app development company, you are sorted.

Sometimes, it may require a bit more time to track the project’s progress and establish cordial communication, due to differences in the city or even country timings.

Outstaffing

Outstaffing is hiring remote specialists and adding them to the existing team to build the app under the guidance of expert developers.

Outstaffing mode allows one to keep a close tab on the project progress and monitor all the remote specialists effortlessly. It allows the app owner to keep all the processes, such as project management and quality assurance under your authority.

In-House Team

The in-house team is having or building your developers team in your office and keeping a close tab on every tiny to large progress in mobile app development.

Recruiting an in-house team is not at all an easy task, it requires a lot of time and brainstorming to find and recruit the most applicable resource that a specific project demands. Additionally, owning an in-house team for mobile app development could be very expensive, as it not only demands resources but also requires office space, hardware, software, and additional staff to keep all these resources running.

Ultimately, What Services You’re Charged For?

An app development process comprises multiple phases and no matter what development team is being chosen, it is important to be aware of for what processes being an app owner you are paying for mobile app development.

Business Analysis

In the business analysis phase, the services include target market analysis, technical specification development, and wireframes.

Project Management

It includes teamwork, team management, progress reports, regular communication, and daily meetings to manage the project.

UI/UX Design

Designing the front-end and back-end of the project by infusing branding and wireframe design.

Development

Coding the app modules, functionalities, and features, and preparing a development stage to establish the servers, libraries, frameworks, architectures, third-party apps and tools, and more.

Quality Assurance

Incorporates different types of testing, i.e. manual and automated testing. The QA specialists monitor the project’s performance, consistency, security, back-end connection, business logic, and others.

Deployment

Deploying the app on a suitable platform while maintaining each store’s guidelines and conditions, optimizing the app description to standard ASO trends which lets the app appear in app store search results.

Updates & Maintenance

It includes fixing bugs instantly, updating libraries, managing and monitoring third-party tools, extending timely support, and updating the operating system versions, and frameworks.

Third-Party Services

The third-party services and tools like maps, payment gateways, and cloud hosting services, all demand periodic maintenance and charges as well.

Steps To Estimate Mobile App Development Cost

According to the client’s requirement, a mobile app development estimation is usually carried out as:

Rough Estimation, is a general project estimation that doesn’t consider too many specifications or details in suggesting the approximate budget. Such, estimations are not at all very precise, they will be of about 70% accurate or less.

Detailed Estimation is done after considering all the possible factors and time that influence the app development cost. This helps to break down the cost of each phase the project demands. Usually, a detailed app development cost estimation planning takes about two or more days.

Here are the steps to estimate the mobile app development cost:

Step 1: Based on App Functionality

The app functionalities can be deduced based on the app design and most of the functionalities can be transformed in wireframe designing. Each app screen is equipped with different functionality. For example, a login screen requires functionalities like;

  • Login and Password Validation
  • Social Login
  • Password Recovery
  • Sign In

Step 2: Development Estimation

Based on the project’s complexity, functionalities, and tech stack the developers estimate the minimum and maximum hours to build each module and function.

Generally, the developers used to propose an additional number of hours, in case they get stuck somewhere and demand more time than their expectation. Thus, the developers usually estimate 500 hours for a project that typically takes 300 hours.

Step 3: Project Management Estimation

A project manager is a responsible source to connect the app owner and the development team. The project manager makes sure to build the most cordial relationship between both the parties and within the development team as well, as to ensure accurate project development and deployment.

Apart from that, a PM ensures to the maintenance of a proper development pace, regular communication within the team and with the client, monitors project quality, and many more.

Step 4: Final Estimation

All these estimations are collectively presented in the required detailed form to the app owner. Additionally, with the number of team members at each development phase and other staff as well.

It will provide a detailed project cost estimation and resources, which gives a clear picture to the client to understand the project’s specifics along with the near to accurate budget estimation.

The Mobile App Development Cost by Region

Above all, app development costs significantly depend on the developer’s location.

The average app development cost in the US will differ from that of India, the UK, or Germany.

Here we take a closer look at country-wise rates.

The Mobile App Development Cost by Region

How to Calculate the App Development Cost?

As we studied above, the cost of app development relies on a wide range of factors but, if you want a simple method to roughly estimate app cost, you can consider the product of two key variables: the number of hours and the app developer’s hourly rates.

(UI/UX design + Platform-wise App Development Hours + Back-end Server Hours + BA + QA + Number of resources required based on project’s complexity, this may include {Project Manager+ Technical Architect+ Database Architect/Analyst+ DevOps and more}) *Hourly Rate

Now just before your kickstart app development, the mobile app development company you’ve hired should provide you a rough estimation of project development cost. The quote will cover all the project features, technology requirements, third-party APIs, and timeline.

Furthermore, the mobile app development company will also offer different pricing models like- fixed price, time and material, and dedicated team model. Depending upon your project requirements and objectives you can select one.

If you’re not sure which model will best suit your requirements here is a quick glance to flesh out their gist.

Payment Models

Types of Payment Models Fixed Price Time and Material Dedicated Team
Budget Fixed Flexible Flexible
When to Choose?
  • Clear deadlines
  • Short project duration
  • Detailed specification
  • Raw project
  • concept
  • Long-term project
  • No detailed specification
  • Complex and long-term project
  • Long-term collaboration
  • Direct communication with the team
  • Business expansion plan
Benefits
  • No overpayments
  • Low risk
  • Client participation is not necessary
  • Flexible budget
  • Scalability and rapid adaption
  • Budget flexibility
  • Practical involvement
  • Economically efficient
  • A focused approach
  • Faster workflow
  • Open to optimization

How Do you Estimate the Cost of Mobile App Development?

Estimating the cost of mobile app development involves considering various factors like app complexity, features, platform choice, and third-party services. By analyzing these aspects and calculating development hours, businesses can derive a rough estimate for their app project.

Conclusion

Before you hire an app development company consider all the aforementioned factors. Gain a deeper understanding of your business model, target customers, key functionalities required in your app, competitors, and leading market players. They turn out to be crucial gatherings in order to communicate your project details clearly to project managers.

Partnering with a professional and leading Mobile App Development Company having an expansive portfolio and similar work that matches your requirements could prove to be a good idea. Since that experience can provide you with detailed blueprints, project demonstrations, and a future roadmap to take your app to a progressive stage.

CODIANT is a leading Mobility and Custom Web Product Development Company with immense experience in delivering customized services in the field of Mobile App Development and Web Development, UI/UX Development, Enterprise Mobility Solutions, and Application Maintenance Services for Fortune 500 organizations, mid-size enterprises, and startups.

Our extensive team of subject matter experts, project managers, designers, developers, and marketing strategists has great expertise in designing & optimizing the explicit needs of particular industries with utmost adequacy.

We work with you to develop flexible solutions that are designed to support your business through its entire lifecycle. We help you to turn your ideas into apps, solve problems, and make your app a potential goldmine.

Want to Get A Free Estimate for Your Mobile App Development Requirements?

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