2. Cost of Developing an App

The Cost of Developing an App

  • Apps built by the largest app companies, the “big boys”, likely cost anywhere between $500,000 to $1,000,000.
  • Apps built by agencies like savvy apps cost anywhere between $150,000 to $450,000.
  • Apps built by smaller shops, possibly with only 2-3 people, likely cost anywhere between $50,000 to $100,000

1. Mobile App Development Cost

The cost to develop an app depends on two things: a) what devices you’re developing for and b) the project type you want to build.

Before calling an app developer or a development team, first ask yourself what you’re developing your app for – iPhone, iPhone 4, iPhone 6, iPad, or fall all of this device? This will help you be clear about what you want and save a lot of time, energy, and money down the road.

Second, the cost of developing an app also depends on the project type you’re building.

There are three app project types:

TYPE 1: Simple apps (table-based).

The cost of developing a simple (table-based) app is anywhere between $1000 and $4,000,  approximately.

You’ll have to provide the content, instructions, and examples of apps to your developer or developing a team. However, if you know Photoshop, you can create your own graphics and submit them to your developer or development team, which will help bring the cost down to $1,500.

The cost may further rise if you want to include additional features – social media integration, GPS locators, among others – into your new app.

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

TYPE 2. Database-Driven Apps (Native apps)

The cost to build a database-driven app could range between $8,000 and $50,000. Again, you’ll have to provide everything – content, image, audio. The cost will further rise from creating logic for the app and architecting the gameplay and the usability.

These apps are also known to be front heavy as the content has to be inserted in the database and then parsed accordingly – and because the data is what is driving the whole game, the framework has to be really strong.

Image Credit: Telerik Developer Network

TYPE 3. Game Apps.

The cost of game apps is very difficult to predict, but the standard cost ranges between  $10,000 to $250,000. Did you know: Angry Birds cost $125k to $180k to develop?

According to some hardcore game developers, many racing games that use gyroscope will cost you at least $125,000. And that’s only for the code.

Even if your gaming app is hyper simple, it can quickly get complex. Incorporating top score features, placing your app into game center, and integrating with an online community can be quite expensive.

But the biggest advantage of developing a game app: they get more downloads than any other apps discussed here.

For marketers, nothing can be super viral than promoting an app game that is super fun to play.

So instead of worrying about “it’s so expensive building a game app,” think about “how much do I need to invest to make a FUN game app now?”

This will help you get the most out of your investment.

Image Credit: Free Angry Birds Game

Some Essential Features/Functionalities you can add Into Your Existing App:

Feature 1. In-App Purchasing

This feature allows users to buy full versions of your apps.

The cost – $1,000 to $3,000 – is spread into in-app purchasing, the complexity, and whether you’d like to build everyone into the first app or if you want to run it from a server.

Image Credit: Mobi Blocks

Feature 2. Web Services

The cost of having a web service feature into your app is somewhere between $1,000 to $5,000.

Rather than making changes to the code every time you make an update, the web services feature allows you to update content automatically using XML files.

Before using web services into your new app, talk with your developer or development team to save yourself a lot of headaches in the future.

Image Credit: Side Player

Feature 3. Game Center

This feature will cost you $1,000; it can be easily integrated with the SDK, thanks to Apple.

Image Credit: Pocket Gamer

Feature 4. Sharing Capabilities

This feature – basic integration of social media (Facebook, Twitter) and emailing, as well as another type of integrations, such as WordPress website – will cost you additional $500 to $1,500.

Image Credit: Business 2 Community

Feature 5. SDKs & ChartBoost

The SDKs are vital tools that keep track of your app and help you generate more ROIs. It will cost you $50 to $200 to include this feature into your newly created app.

You can easily integrate any SDK for a relatively cheap price, but as you become more specific to your needs, it can get pretty expensive.

You can include these important SDKs into your app: Google Analytics, Applovin, Chartboost, AdMob, and Tapjoy.

Image Credit: How to Make Mobile Games

2. Mobile App Design Costs

The app design plays a huge role on your overall ROIs and enhancing user engagement and experience. App designs convert a casual viewer to download your apps and make them feel more engaged. Therefore, investing in a good mobile app design is a sure-fire way to increase your profits.

Hiring a web designer to design a mobile app is your best option here; talk to a mobile designer who has a knowledge of the space restrictions (smaller screen size of mobile) and user flow.

Just like app development, an app design comes in packages (comes with all required icons and screens); you’ll purchase a set of “.PSD” and “.png” files that fulfill all your design needs.

And when you open this graphic package, you’ll be shocked when you find so many different design pieces included there – an icon alone requires around 4 different sizes for a universal app (that works on both iPhone and iPad).

Image Credit: Telecom Talk

Here’s the breakdown of your app design costs:

1. IPhone

Expect the cost to be somewhere between $500- $10,000.At this price, you can easily get a base level design for your app. But remember, this simple design will not be done for retina display (as found on iPhone 4), as they require high-resolution files.

Send this design to your developer who will then add all the images in the code.

Tip: Rename the files in the package before sending them to your developer; it’ll help save both of your time and a lot of headaches.

2. IPhone 6+ Compatible

Add 25% extra to the above cost to make your app compatible with iPhone 6+. All the images will be resized at 2208 x 1242px, which is more than 2 times the 640x 1136px sizes for iPhone 5.

3. IPad

For iPad, add an extra 50 % to the above cost; we assume the layout and user flow is very similar. In most cases, you’ll also have to consider creating alternate functionality to accommodate for the iPad size and speed, which, of course, requires new designs.


  • IPads often contain retina images, which are big in size. Keep an eye on the file size of your code when developing.
  • The entire package should also include all the icons. If you need, ask for screenshots from the designers.

We’ll say it again – do not cut corners on design; you’ll have much difficulty recuperating your investments later.

So, the total costs of your app would be…

You’ll pay $99 to Apple as an annual fee to list your app on Apple Store – no hidden fees.

Each time you make an app sale, Apple will then take a 30% cut.

Think about spending your money on three things: app development, app design, and app IT architecture (hosting your app on servers, etc).

So the total cost of an app will vary based on all these variables listed above.

Of course, you can find a company that’ll do everything for you for $1,000 or so, but you’ll have to keep an eye on the quality and how much control you’ll have over the entire process.

Image credit: Quora

For now, forget about how much you’ll pay to develop an app.

Instead, ask yourself what strategies and features will bring you the highest returns on investment.

Even if you let your app sit in the store for a year or two, taking some time for app marketing and tracking progress on a regular basis will help you recover your investment easily.

Take a look at this app, for example, it costs only $2,500, drives about 3k new visitors to a website every month, with average time on site more than 400% than website visitors.

The numbers given above are highly variable – they may either go up or go down depending on many things – but remember, as the competition will go up, the cost of developing an app will come down.

For now, avoid falling for a story of a high school teenager who says he/she can build an app like Angry Bird for just $1,000. Also, be careful of companies demanding $250k to develop a simple database driven app; you don’t want to feel that you just paid a quarter million dollars for an app.

And lastly, remember, if you’re going to spend that amount of money, better be prepared to get something incredible.

What do you think? How much will it cost to develop and app? Please comment below.

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