Why Are Apps So Damn Expensive to Develop?

Why Are Apps So Damn Expensive to Develop?

The most in-complex question that can be asked, but the answer to this foreseeable popular question isn’t so simple. Whether your app is built by the largest app company or built by more personal agencies like us, apps are going to cost you a pretty penny. There are several important factors to consider when calculating the cost of your app.

First to consider is the scope of the app and how much work it will take to make it a reality. Will it be on Android and iOS platforms? Will there be a mobile web version as well as native? How many individual screen layouts are necessary to fulfill the app’s core functions? Will outside APIs be integrated? These are just a few of the essential questions and concepts to consider when budgeting time and cost for an app.

Apps can cost anywhere between $10,000 to $1,000,000. That’s quite the gap — we know. And your probably wondering where the heck your app falls in that canyon. Let’s say you make an app for $30,000; what type of team are you going to get? Is your graphic artist going to be up to par with that amount? There are several disciplines to acknowledge. You want the best for your app (your creation) and with that comes more dollar signs.

You can buy a car for $10,000 — it’s possible, but is it a good car? It may get you from point A to point B, but how much money are you going to eventually have to put into that car to fix the bugs and crashes to keep it running smoothly. You’re not going to be able to afford all the bells and whistles, or to put in valuable materials. The same can be said for building an app. If you get it done cheaply then inevitably later on down the road your going to face problems — money related problems. Your money is going towards someone who has to design the car, engineer it, manufacture it, and sell the car.

To be frank, those who limit themselves to $30,000 on their app never launch; they break. They need to be repaired constantly because their code is built on sand, there is no real foundation. Often times, people don’t give apps enough credit because they are small. Why would you want to spend anything more than $30,000 on something so small, simple and easy to use? Smartphones are small, but the cost to make one isn’t so modest. It’s like building a house — you can build a $5,000 house, but would you want to live in a $5,000 house? You can build the same house for more and the difference is the quality. We decided to build a quality structure and we don’t charge anything less than quality.

In selecting the right people to deliver your brilliant app idea into the world, it is important to consider the cost/benefit of your development team. You wouldn’t just let any mechanic off the street fix your car, and the same goes for building an app. Sometimes it’s best to pay professionals to do a professional job. In the case of bringing a great app to life, we strongly recommend seasoned experts.

Another important factor in any app’s development is the timeframe. If an app is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. And doing it right often takes time. While a larger team can help develop an app quicker, this faster (and more expensive) approach is not always an advantage. There are a lot of steps in developing a quality app and each one needs close planning, review, and testing.

The costs of apps are largely based on features, complexity, and platform. And not to mention, budgeting for updates, marketing, your own salary, and other costs.  The cost to bring an app to market go beyond the initial UX, design, development, or project management dollars. There will be at a minimum budget required for ongoing updates and potentially, some server costs. Some of the largest app-focused firms won’t even give you the time of day if your budget is below $500,000. Our own rates for app development range from 50k to 150k per platform. In our experience, we have never seen a successful app made for less than $50,000.

Finding a development team to make a quality app quickly and cheaply is a red flag. You get what you pay for. Entering today’s ever more saturated app market with less than 50k invested in production is equivalent to betting it all on a bad hand of poker. Invest wisely in your future business. Build your app on a solid foundation.

Robert Patrick

[email protected]

Founder & Chief Architect Robert ("The One") started writing software at 12 years old, and founded PhD in the 1990′s at the age of 18. His philosophy is that working hard/playing hard, honesty and pursuing your true passion will lead to success and happiness.

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