Senior full stack developer and CTO at Ideamotive.
In 2020, app stores saw a record 218 billion downloads in 2020. Consumer spent $143 billion. At the same time, consumers also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone, the report found.
This market is constantly growing, but not all applications are successful, justifying the money spent on them.
In order to differentiate your app from a large number of competitors, it is important to make it technically high-quality and one that really helps solve the problems of your clients.
To create a quality app, you need to have a good development team. However, it is extremely difficult for a person outside the world of programming for mobile devices to evaluate the work of a contractor.
After all, you need to understand how much time and money is needed to complete the order. Also, it will not be superfluous to figure out what is the average cost of developing a mobile application in different regions, what it depends on, and how it is formed.
We will try to answer all these questions in the article below.
Mobile technology is evolving rapidly on a daily basis, and new trends continue to appear in applications to improve the usability, performance, and reliability of the application.
Security is a matter of course and is absolutely expected by users. That is why a lot of attention has been paid to this aspect lately, and for a good reason. The fact is that for Android, the problem of hacking is very relevant, and there are still several cases registered.
Whether you like it or not, companies pay close attention to this aspect. Otherwise, it can lead to a significant loss of business.
Online transactions are a compelling example. As they are increasingly used in mobile applications, Android develops powerful security solutions that completely protect users' personal data.
The latest solutions allow you to create separate business environments for applications to protect any important data. The number of enterprises migrating to this OS is expected to grow.
Despite the well-known fact that Android apps take longer to build, the general trend is still to reduce the time to create. The reason for this is the simple, clean design and interface of the application. "UX comes first" is a trend that has become the main focus of developers. And this trend is known primarily for its simplicity and minimalism.
Most companies are already running their business on the Internet. Since most people spend most of their time on the phone, corporations must quickly adapt to this. Businesses decide to build custom commercial applications to stay connected with their customers, not to mention they also improve the customer experience within the company. A positive and easy user experience always means loyalty, right?
Multiple polls confirm that worldwide smartphone payments will reach nearly $421B by 2026. And that will be over 50% of all online transactions. These numbers speak for themselves. Just implement this feature and make your customers pay with a few clicks.
Smartwatches, smart bracelets, fitness trackers. More and more ordinary people are changing their regular watches for some kind of smart accessories. Companies integrate them to improve business productivity.
The best part is that Google provides a number of recommendations for Android Wear software, and many manufacturers are gratefully implementing it for their gadgets. It only means that most Android users will sooner or later get some kind of smart wearable device. And you want to be armed for that.
Having vast experience in this field (over six years), we can show you example estimations of various apps:
Now let's see where these numbers come from.
They are assumed to be built for only one platform. They have a few screens, data, and actions that users can take. Such products do not need to create an API, backend, and admin panel. But they can have, for example, the ability to view and send images, login and authorization through popular social networks. Such applications can use off-the-shelf map services and work with GPS.
By "base application," we mean MVP application:
Such applications are usually created by startups looking for their market niche.
These can include creating an API, admin panel, and simple backend. They may contain, for instance, chats, payment functions, etc. The cost here is influenced not only by the complexity of the component but also by their number.
By "application of medium complexity," we mean an application:
They include processing AV files, real-time synchronization, a large number of custom animations, integration with a significant number of third-party services, backend development, work with VR / AR platforms, and the presence of several types of users. On top of that, there is a lot of content and screens. The project is not only technically difficult but, in principle, large.
By "very complex application," we mean an application:
This rough average cost of Android app development can serve as a starting point for understanding how much it actually costs to develop a mobile app.
Estimating the volume at each stage, that is, calculating how much it costs to develop a mobile application, is a difficult task. In order to do this, you need to have a clear idea of the end result and be tech-savvy to evaluate the labor costs for each function. Thus, as a rule, the most experienced specialists are involved in this process.
The assessment takes place in two stages:
There are also cases when, in the dev process, with an increase in the depth of understanding, a rethinking of the original task happens, which can affect the closing cost. That is, nuances arise that could not have been foreseen before, and decisions are made to remove something from the primary list as unnecessary or add something to it. Especially when unique applications are created that have no analogs.
It's good if the company has already built apps with similar functionality. In this case, the answer to the question "how much does it cost to develop an Android mobile application?" will be more accurate than if the developers had no experience in such applications.
Also, developers may already have developments that can be transferred to a new project.
Expenses are divided into direct, indirect, and others.
Direct costs, that is, labor costs, include the capabilities of the application and its functionality, individual design, the platforms on which the product will run, plus the server-side and administration capabilities.
The more complex the application, the more expensive it is. Custom scripts, the number of screens and application states, buttons, fields, the amount of business logic, and the server infrastructure require many hours of development and subsequent testing. These are the most expensive components.
Each screen must be thought of:
Behind this is a lot of work of different company specialists - from the project manager to the tester.
For example, in an online store application, data should be displayed dynamically - so that the user can see only those products that they can buy now and those prices that are currently relevant. To do this, you need to synchronize the application data with the server, configure and test the API, which is quite expensive.
User interaction begins with launching the application. The user registers, goes through the authorization procedure, creates and edits a personal profile, sets up notifications, and then makes a purchase. Each of these elements can be implemented in different ways.
The user authorization procedure can be either simple or complex. It is easier and cheaper today to use fast authorization by phone number. But it happens that this cannot be done. It is necessary to add such functions as generating a complex password, authorization using social networks, two-step SMS authentication. All this will increase the cost of developing the authorization module and the application as a whole.
If your application needs to have multiple user roles, such as buyer and seller, then you need to think about custom scenarios for everyone. This makes development more expensive.
Previously, the phone was able to make calls, send messages and transmit data via Bluetooth. It was equipped with a simple accelerometer and a simple camera. Today, using a smartphone, you can pay for purchases, verify your identity, measure your heart rate, and so on.
APIs are used to create applications with access to these features of mobile devices. For such an interface to work correctly with every smartphone, it must be configured correctly and must be tested. This increases the overall development time and affects the final cost.
Integration with payment systems depends on the number of payment methods: by card, using a wallet, via Apple Pay, or as in our case Google Pay. Each additional payment processing method requires additional implementation and testing time.
If the application needs to use user location data or navigation, this can be done in a standard way or using advanced indoor navigation technologies like iBeacon and GeoFencing. The second option is quite time-consuming: the development of each of these functions increases the cost of the application.
It happens that an application must use data from other services, for example, GoogleMaps, PayPal, Facebook. It is usually easy to add one or two popular services to an application. But if there are many such services, the developer will need many hours.
Another situation is when you need to make friends with an application with a specific service, for example, the customer's own CRM system. In this case, integration can become laborious since no one has solved such a problem before, and it is impossible to use a standard solution.
Typically, designers and mobile developers use Apple and Google guidelines. A guideline is a kind of set of rules that determines how interface elements should look and work so that they can be conveniently used on different smartphones. But sometimes, the customer wants the application to look different from what everyone is used to.
To create a unique user interface design, you need to do some serious business intelligence and involve professionals in the field of UI and UX design. The immersion of analysts and project managers in analyzing the business processes of the future application also incurs additional costs.
A separate cost item is animations. The more complex and unusual the transition from one element in the interface to another, the more expensive it is to develop.
Mobile app development for iOS and Android is very different. These platforms use different programming languages and development tools, so programmers with different skills and experience are needed.
It is believed that it is easier for a programmer to learn how to work with Android, so the cost of Android developers is lower than that of iOS specialists. On average, an IOS developer rate is 15-20% higher than an Android developer rate. In addition, the cost is also influenced by the shortage of good IOS developers, which is currently observed in the mobile development market.
The process for testing an application on each platform is also different. There are many more different smartphones on Android than on iOS. Because of this, testing and debugging take more hours, which increases development costs.
At the same time, each dev company, in its own way, forms the cost of developing an application for different platforms.
The server part or backend is a system for exchanging information between the application and the customer's database. For example, the backend ensures data synchronization between inventory balances in the online store and in the customer's warehouse, participates in making payments and processing bookings.
To develop a backend, programmers need to write code in accordance with the API requirements. Accordingly, the more complex data exchange tasks and API requirements are, the more expensive it is to perform work with the server-side of the application.
The administration panel is needed to manage content in the application. For example, to moderate customer reviews, publish articles on the company's blog, change the status of orders. To make an admin panel, you need more than one studio employee, but several - you need to do design, development, and layout. This significantly affects the final cost of the project.
In addition to direct costs for the work of company specialists, there are others on which the cost of the application depends. The highest indirect costs are office rent and the company's tax burden.
A service that rents a spacious office in the center of New York is ready to make the application more expensive than a team with a distributed development team. The cost of the application, which is announced to the customer, already includes the cost of renting premises, paying for utilities, coffee, and cookies for the whole team.
For instance, here at Ideamotive, we have a distributed development team: employees are located in different cities and countries. This avoids additional office costs. Therefore, we offer prices lower than other studios, and at the same time, we are not inferior to them in terms of competence and quality of the final product.
If a company operates officially and does not evade taxes, it must be paid to the state from each proceeds. If employees are officially registered, the company pays VAT and deductions to funds for them. All costs are taken into account when forming the cost of the application.
Another important component that adds value to your application is team members. Small disclaimer! It's not just mobile app developers who create your product.
A complete list of the professionals you will need to build and customize your application:
It looks a lot like the skeleton of a dream team needed to build an Android app. Depending on the complexity of the desired product, the number of people may vary, but almost all functions are distributed among these specialists.
Now is the time to look for the best app developers who can be trusted with your important task. You can search for your people in different regions of the world, and the hourly rate will, of course, differ:
A high price does not always indicate a high quality of performance. It only indicates that the salaries of programmers in different countries are very different.
It takes about two months of work to create a simple application, that is, 300 hours. It turns out that the minimum cost of an application from Indian developers will cost $ 3000, from Eastern European developers - about $ 7500.
After the choice of the developers of the mobile application is made, you can discuss all the functionality of the application and get a rough estimate of the required number of hours to create it. After that, you simply add up all of your team's hours and multiply them by the hourly rate!
Luckily, business owners can keep their mobile app development costs down by following some industry practices and some tricky hints. In this section, we'll take a closer look at the various techniques that companies use to reduce mobile app development costs.
You need to properly prioritize the features of your application before you start developing them. The fact that you cannot create a complete software solution right now does not mean that you have to give up your dream.
It's smarter to prioritize app features so you can start adding value to your business as soon as possible. It also helps in making an accurate estimate of the software design.
Save useful items for later dev processes and add them to your backlog. By launching your project with a minimum viable product (MVP), you can create a successful product without investing a lot of money in a high-risk project.
The IT world is constantly changing, and it makes no sense to invest in a large system with a full set of functions. Smart business owners are gradually building digital products and keeping a close eye on market trends.
Remember, the costs of building mobile apps go beyond the development and release stages. The full application will still incur costs.
An application you develop today may look very different in the future. For example, if you are releasing an MVP, you can get customer feedback that will inspire you to change some of the features. Your target market may develop in a completely new direction, which will force you to change your product as well.
This is why it is wise to keep short and long-term goals in mind when developing software. It will save you a lot of money in the future.
Software development outsourcing will bring you significant cost savings throughout your project:
Since bugs and errors can accumulate already at the stage of mobile application development, you need to fix them as soon as possible. Otherwise, you risk that they will spread to your entire project. By engaging quality assurance professionals from the outset, you will discover serious problems even before the development phase begins. As a result, you will save on redesign costs, which can get very high in the middle of your project.
Other costs include the cost of testing the application and debugging bugs, publishing the application in app stores, maintaining and developing it. If the client only needs to develop a service, these costs do not affect the final price tag.
But most often, the customer wants to develop and maintain the application - then at the beginning of work, it is necessary to take into account what will have to be paid in the future.
The finished application must be published in Google Play. Sometimes the customer takes it upon themselves, but more often entrusts this work to the dev company. On average, registering as a developer will cost you a $ 25 one-time payment.
In order for your app to gain some downloads, you need to advertise it. The cost of marketing services may vary, so we won't indicate the exact price.
At the maintenance stage, bugs and errors in the application are found. In order for the application to work smoothly and be convenient to use, it is better to fix all the shortcomings. This requires the inclusion of testers and developers.
Testing is expensive and time-consuming. But we do not recommend giving it up.
Technical support for a finished application is just as important as development and takes time. Developers modify the application based on feedback, administer it, release updates, and other specialists fill the application with content. This work takes time, for which the customer pays.
What can be more clear than a real-life example? Here we offer you exemplary estimations based on eight app types.
Please note: The following application development costs are for general understanding. In addition, some types of applications may have similar functionality.
Remember, every project is unique as no one has the same requirements, business context, technology, and people involved.
The final price of the application includes requirements detailing and analytics, engineering, and design, development, testing, and management. This circle is repeated iteration after iteration until the project is considered complete. The release is not the endpoint of the work on the application, but only its beginning. You should be ready for long-term cooperation with the development team.
This article provides only rough guidelines for the prices of application development. Each client task is unique and requires careful study and evaluation.
Do you want to know how much it will cost to develop your mobile app on Android? Reach out to us. We will help you define your business goals, estimate the cost and development time needed and provide you with the right mobile development product team matched with your industry and business needs.
Hire our specialists, and we will help you to more accurately determine what the cost of creating an application would be.
Dawid is a full stack developer experienced in creating Ruby on Rails and React Native apps from naught to implementation. Technological superhero, delivering amazing solutions for our clients and helping them grow.View all author posts
For Startup CEOs, Entrepreneurs and Product OwnersRead now
Robert Krajewski 11 min read
Dawid Karczewski 12 min read
Adam Bałazy 7 min read
Miłosz Kaczorowski 7 min read
Dawid Karczewski 6 min read