If you have ever considered developing an app, the first thing you would have asked is “How much does it cost to develop a mobile app?” There’s an answer to that – “it depends”. 

Yes, it depends on several factors, including:

  • Nature and purpose of the app
  • Use of hardware features and functionality
  • Platforms and supported devices
  • UI/UX
  • Maintenance plan
  • Who builds it?
  • How does it get built?
  • What does it do?

Once you have the answers to the above, estimating the app development cost is easy. You can use this article as a reference to come up with an estimate.

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 1

How Much Does It Cost To Develop A Mobile App?

The simple formula to calculate app development cost is:

App Cost = Development Time x Hourly Rate

Depending on the features you wish to include, you can tweak the formula as:

App Cost = [Features x Time] x Hourly Rate

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 2An example for calculating app development cost.

By 2022, the annual consumer spending in app stores will rise to $157 billion. Developing an app will be one of the best investments you can make. And you can potentially recoup this cost through several app monetization methods.

Here are some app development cost estimates from GoodFirms:

  • A user-friendly app with minimal functionalities like Tinder will cost between US$40,000 – US$60,000.
  • A medium-functionality app like Whatsapp will cost between US$61,000 to US$69,000.
  • A high-functionality app like Uber or Instagram will cost between US$70,000 to US$100,000.

Do note that these costs were calculated keeping the hourly rates of developers at an average of US$50. If you have a small budget, you can outsource your app development and save huge amounts of money.

Industry Estimates of App Development Cost

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 3Cost estimates for common app types.

Cost By App Developer Location

If you are planning to outsource your app development to a team located in a different country, then the costs will vary greatly. Although having a local development team can make communications easier, outsourcing will help you access a vast pool of talented developers.

The main reason for app development costs to vary across countries is due to the difference in living standards. The cost of developing an app in India, for instance, is significantly lower than in the USA.

Here’s how much app development costs across the world.

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 4Cost of app development (US$) across different platforms and regions.

Cost By App Category

1. Game Apps

Game apps are the most popular apps in app stores, with a market share of 22.37%. While calculating game app development costs, several factors including the design, genre and number of game characters must be considered.

Mid-level games like Angry Birds was developed for $140,000 and took nine months to their first release.

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 5Angry Birds’ gameplay on mobile.

In general, the average mobile game app development cost is estimated at $50,000, and can go up to $1,000,000 with a time frame of five months or more to develop.

2. Enterprise Apps

An enterprise app must offer real-time connectivity along with high security to its users. A business communication app like Slack has a well-designed and organised UI. It also allows users to share files and chat.

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 6Slackbot in Slack’s android app.

Considering these features, an enterprise app development cost is estimated at $60,000 and upwards, and will take three months or more to develop.

3. Educational Apps

Educational apps like Duolingo include an intuitive user interface along with functionalities like social media integration, progress tracking, leaderboards and multi-lingual support, to name a few. 

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 7French lesson in language learning app Duolingo.

Educational app development cost is estimated at $50,000 and upwards and will take three months or more to develop.

4. On-Demand Apps

The fleet of on-demand apps came into existence starting with Uber. These apps have a highly specific goal – satisfy the needs of users “on-demand”. These apps will have functionalities similar to eCommerce and social network apps such as login, chat, ordering, payment and so on.

As these brands will have riders as well as customers, the two apps must be developed for both types of users.

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 8Uber Eats’ app loading screen.

On-demand app development cost is estimated at $70,000 and upwards and will take five months or more to develop.

5. E-Commerce Apps

An e-commerce app, for example, Amazon, will include functionalities such as registration, login, user account, payment and social media integration. The app will also include product pages, check-out system, along with inventory management. 

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 9Searching for Samsung smartphones on Amazon.

As the infrastructure for these apps is quite complicated, the e-commerce app development cost will be anyway higher than $50,000 and would take a minimum of three months to complete.

6. Entertainment Apps

An entertainment app like Netflix will have features such as video streaming, social media integration, search, navigation and user profile.

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 10Netflix mobile app’s loading screen.

Entertainment app development cost is estimated as $60,000 and upwards, and will take four months or more to develop.

7. Social Network Apps

A social network app must include features such as chat and media sharing. Most of the successful social networking apps out there started as an MVP or with a basic version with core features. As a result, the app development cost and time for these apps are spread across their existence.

For example, Instagram started as an MVP with photo-sharing as its basic feature. The app later on included messaging, social media integration and more, as the app gained popularity.

Generally, social networking app development cost can be estimated as $50,000 and upwards with an average timeline of three months and more.

App Development Cost of Famous Apps

1. Whatsapp

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 11A chat group in Whatsapp.

Key Features:

  • Audio / Video Calls
  • Audio Conferencing
  • Media Sharing
  • Cross-Platform

Average Development Time – 4.6 months
Average Development Cost – $64,333

2. Instagram

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 129gag’s page on Instagram.

Key Features:

  • Geo-location for photos
  • In-built chat
  • Social Media Integration (Facebook)
  • Filters
  • Tablet Support

Average Development Time – 4.5 months
Average Development Cost – $70,397

3. Uber

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 13Searching for rides on the Uber app.

Key Features (For drivers and commuters):

  • In-built chat
  • Tablet support
  • Real-time traffic updates
  • Payment integration
  • Map integration
  • Geo-tagging

Average Development Time – 5.6 months
Average Development Cost – $91,218

4. Tinder

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 14Tinder’s message section in a smartphone. Image Credit: techcrunch.com

Key Features:

  • Multi-lingual
  • Behaviour analysis
  • Social media integration
  • Voice chat
  • Free/paid membership

Average Development Time – 3.7 months
Average Development Cost – $44,830

5. QuizUp

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 15QuizUp’s mobile app interface.

Key Features:

  • Score system for answers or votes
  • Statistics
  • Social media integration
  • In-built chat
  • Location-based search
  • Localization (questions based on country of login)

Average Development Time – 4.6 months
Average Development Cost –  $66,200

6. Periscope

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 16Periscope app’s feed.

Key Features:

  • In-built chat
  • Geo-tagging
  • Social media integration (publish videos to YouTube)
  • Live video stream

Average Development Time – 4.1 months
Average Development Cost – $59,737

Cost By App Features

The answer to the question “How much does it cost to develop a mobile app?” primarily depends on the features and functionalities you plan for your app – everything starting from buttons to screen transitions. 

Also, some features might be relatively less complex to implement but will take more time. This will raise the app development cost, especially if you are outsourcing the app development.

Here’s a list of mobile app development costs and timeframe estimated for developing specific features of an app.

Do note that the costs are estimated by keeping the developer’s cost at $50/hour – which is the average app development cost worldwide.

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 17The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 18Cost of app development (US$) by specific features.

Cost By Team Members

Here’s a list of average hourly rates of development team members in the USA, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia.

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 19Hourly rates of development team members worldwide.

1. Business Analyst

A Business Analyst plays a vital role in the planning phase of an app. Their responsibilities include:

  • Gathering app requirements
  • Identifying business problems
  • Competitor analysis
  • Defining project requirements

2. UI/UX Designer

An app’s success heavily depends on UI/UX designers. They breathe life to every app by designing the look and feel of it. Their responsibilities include:

  • Wireframe creation
  • App designing
  • Analysing similar apps
  • Analysing user preferences

3. App Engineer

Depending on the complexity and the platforms you are planning to release the app, you will need wide-expertise of app engineers to implement your app’s concept into a functioning one. Their responsibilities include:

  • Understanding client requirements
  • Implementing the app’s concept into high-quality codes
  • Adding functionality and updating the app

4. QA Engineer

Once the application is developed, it is the responsibility of QA Engineers to test the app’s stability through several testing strategies. Their responsibilities include:

  • Test the app’s functionality using methods like regression or smoke testing.
  • Check whether the UI and app components align with client requirements
  • Notify App Engineers of bugs in the app.

5. Project Manager

The Project Managers oversee the work of the entire development team and ensure the app is delivered on time. Their responsibilities include:

  • Ensure the app is delivered on time with all the functionalities discussed
  • Instruct changes to developers, if requested by the client
  • Optimise mobile app development cost

Cost By App’s Platform

Is there any significant price difference between iOS and Android development? The answer is no. The costs for developing apps in these platforms are almost similar. But if you plan to develop native apps on both the platforms, then the app development cost will inevitably increase.

Generally, most apps are natively developed for both iOS and Android as it would keep the performance and UX intact – which might not be the case for cross-platform apps. 

The cost of developing cross-platform apps might be slightly higher as compared to a single platform. This is because the developers need to consider the different UI/UX experience and testing methodologies on iOS and Android. However, the cross-platform app development cost is relatively lower than developing for both platforms natively.

Also, when considering maintenance and app updating costs, cross-platform apps are economical as the team will work on only a single code base, unlike native apps.

Cost By App Development Stages

Depending on your app’s complexity, the team structure varies. As a result, the prices will vary too. Here’s a list of app development cost breakdown for its different stages.

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 20App development cost with respect to its development stages.

How To Prioritize MVP Features For Your App For Cost-Cutting

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a product that has just the basic, yet essential features, capable of satisfying early users – who can help in validating the product idea and contribute feedback for future development.

If the concept of your app is relatively new, then developing it as an MVP will help in cost reduction as well as investing time in essential features. As you will be progressing with feedback from the users and reflecting it into the development process, the app will have a strong user base.

Let’s look at how you can prioritise the MVP features for your app:

1. Identify Your App’s Vision

  • Identify the purpose of your app and how it can make a user’s life easier.
  • Look at targeted user profiles for information such as age and location, and develop the app features which aligns with their interests.
  • What are your long-term goals? For example, if it’s an e-commerce app, you might want high conversions; if it’s a video streaming app, you might want a large number of subscribers.

2. Prioritise the MVP Features

Once you have a clear understanding of your app’s vision, answer the following:

  • What are your users’ needs?
  • What values do your app offer?
  • What are the features that don’t add much value to your app?

With these answers, use the MoSCoW method to sort the features based on priority. MoSCoW stands for Must have, Should have, Could have, Won’t have.

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 21The four categories of MoSCoW method. Image Credit: productplan.com

3. Plan Based on MVP Features

Once you have sorted the features based on MoSCoW, discuss with your development team about the crucial features that need to be implemented first. As the development progresses, you can tweak the list based on user feedback and KPIs.

App Marketing

Although not part of development, app marketing is crucial for your app’s success. To reach a wider audience and bring in the expected ROI, an effective app marketing strategy must be planned, right from the development phase.

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 22Push notification from Udemy app.

Here’s how much the crucial components of app marketing costs:

The Cost of Developing a Mobile App in 2020 23Cost for app marketing depending on the strategies.

To grow your user base, you can use app install platforms such as Facebook Ads or Google App Campaigns to reach your potential users.

App Maintenance Costs

Generally speaking, an app’s maintenance cost will comprise 10% to 20% of the entire development cost. Even if you aren’t planning for newer versions with more features, maintenance is a must as it keeps the user experience intact.

App maintenance process will include:

  • Performance and stability improvements
  • Bug fixes
  • Tweaking or developing features
  • Code optimization
  • Updating app for latest OS versions.

Wrapping It Up

As you can see, app development costs depend on numerous foreseeable factors. You can stick to the least number of features and develop an app for $1,000. But if you can spend $10,000 as an initial investment, you can create a high-quality app with reliable features.

The best thing to do – list down your requirements and contact an app development company that has their fair share of experience in the domain. A well-developed app will be able to return the investment you made. Always go for quality rather than quantity.

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