What Is The Cost Of Developing an App? Busting Common Myths

What Is The Cost Of Developing an App? Busting Common Myths

07 Feb 2023


Akash Shakya

With over 6 billion smartphone users across the globe, it’s only natural for most businesses to jump on the bandwagon and create their own app, whether we’re talking about educational apps, mobile games, social media, or eCommerce apps. Moreover, mobile app revenue is estimated to almost double, from $318 billion in 2020 to around $613 billion in 2025, so launching an app now might bring you a significant rate of return.

In October 2022 alone, about 97 thousand mobile apps were released on the Google Play Store and 36.6 thousand mobile apps were released through the Apple App Store. That proves the importance of smartphones and mobile applications in our daily lives, and the power technology has over us.

But how much does it actually cost to develop an app, what does the process involve, and how can you make sure you’re on the right track?

In this article, we’ll uncover the cost of developing a mobile app and the most common myths about the cost of developing an app, so that you can better evaluate your project and make well-informed decisions. Keep reading to find out the answer to your most burning app development questions!

How much does it cost to develop an app?

It’s no secret that a lot of money can go into creating an app. On the other hand, it’s a common myth that you can build a professional app with a few hundred bucks.

In reality, the cost is often based on several factors, such as how intricate and feature-rich your app needs to be, and which platform it will run on — not to mention team size and experience. After all, creating a successful app isn’t just about great ideas — it takes considerable development investment too.

For example, the average mobile app cost in Australia is around 25,000 USD (32,000 AUD). And this number goes up from there the more complex your project is going to be, which can make it tricky.

Most apps fit into one of the following three categories:

  • Simple app development — generally the Minimum Viable Product (MVP), with a basic User Interface (UI) design and a hybrid type or native, built for just one platform.
  • Medium app development — custom-made UI elements, more advanced features (e.g., API integrations), and can be either hybrid or native, built for just one platform.
  • Complex app development — complex features and technologies involved (e.g., chatbots), high-quality UI elements, and native cross-platform.

Comparing types of apps: text + representative icon

Size Of App Development Projects
Size Of App Development Projects

Designing a simple app can take anywhere from several weeks to a few months with 8-hour work days and a dedicated team. To calculate the cost of developing an app, you’ll need the number of hours invested into the project and then multiply that by an hourly rate, which can greatly vary depending on their experience or region.

The truth is, there’s no magic number when it comes to app development costs, however, having an understanding of the estimated level of effort and hourly rates can help establish realistic expectations.

What Factors Influence Mobile App Development Costs?

There are so many factors that come into play when it comes to the cost of developing an app in 2023, the most notable ones being the following:

1. Complexity of Design

Crafting a stunning design for an app takes a lot more effort. Special features like custom animations or intricate User Interface (UI) designs lead to an increase in costs.

Creating a great user experience (UX) calls for a lot of planning, testing, and optimisation, and these come with a price (quite literally). Make sure you settle on these particularities from the beginning and understand exactly what you’re being charged for.

2. Type of Mobile App

Apps from different platforms, such as iOS and Android apps, require specific coding in order to run smoothly. What does that mean? For instance, it’s a huge difference whether it’s a native app or a hybrid app. Native mobile apps are specially crafted for an operating system, most often iOS or Android. If you’re looking for broader compatibility, then a hybrid app might be more suitable for your project, as it has one unified codebase that’ll work on any operating system.

Android Vs. iOS Vs. Web Apps

Hybrid Web Native Comparison
Hybrid Web Native Comparison

To be more specific, native apps are usually built in Objective C and Swift for iOS and in Java and Kotlin for Android. On the other hand, hybrid apps use web technologies such as Javascript, HTML, and CSS to emulate software behaviour on every platform. This enables them to work on different platforms without custom coding for each operating system.

How does this affect the cost of the app? Well, it’s simple: hybrid apps offer a great solution for businesses looking to cut down development time and maintenance costs. However, the performance of your hybrid app will ultimately depend on how quickly the user’s browser can run it. The native (iOS app or Android) app development cost may be higher, but you may find that native apps perform much better in comparison.

Moreover, not all native or hybrid apps are created equal. In fact, the industry or app category also plays a significant role when it comes to the costs of app development. From appointment booking to dating apps or eCommerce mobile applications, the time required to finish the project varies substantially, and so does the final price tag.

Below you’ll find the breakdown by app type, estimate cost and time of completion to help you determine how much you’re most likely to pay for your mobile application:

Average Cost Range For Mobile App Development
Average Cost Range For Mobile App Development

To better understand these numbers and what they mean, below we’ll dive into examples of popular apps, how long it takes to build such an application, and the approximate cost of such projects:

1. Dating App Example – Tinder

The popular dating app, Tinder, is known for being simple but effective in what it aims to do, creating a seamless and engaging user experience.

App Development Cost For Tinder In 2023
App Development Cost For Tinder In 2023

Building a similar app requires features such as a login page and user authentication, user authentication, user profiles, in-app messaging, GPS localization, push notifications, and in-app payment gateways for memberships – that’s part of how Tinder monetizes the app. That being said, while dating apps like Tinder appear to be easy to develop, app development costs may run as high as AUD $350,000.

2. eCommerce App Example – Ikea

Now, this is when things get a bit more complicated. Developed with the help of Augmented Reality (AR), Ikea is an eCommerce app that enables customers to view life-like images of their furniture and home decorations.

The use of AR in this case rises the bar and adds to the final price tag. Besides stunning 3D visualization of the products, apps like Ikea also allow for social media sharing, 360-degree views of the products, real-time dashboards and analytics, and CRM integrations. This brings us to over 1,200 hours of work and development costs starting from AUD $80,000.

3. Booking and Rental App Example – Airbnb

Although building a complex app like Airbnb takes about the same time to develop as the Ikea app, the development cost can vary greatly. Features like the search field, filters for more precise searches, an in-app chat option, calendar reminders, a review and ratings system, and property listing may cost you over AUD $140,000.

Mobile App And Web App Development Cost For Airbnb In 2023
Mobile App And Web App Development Cost For Airbnb In 2023

Thankfully, there are ways to make the app development process much smoother and more cost-effective, saving you precious resources in the end — and we’ll discuss them later on!

4. Social Media App Example – TikTok

Last but surely not least, we’ll talk about the social media app that took us by storm in 2020 with 980 million first-time installs — that’s right, it’s TikTok.

No doubt, TikTok is an impressive app that brings a lot of features to its user’s fingertips. Some of these features include media file sharing (e.g., videos and images), in-app messaging, multi-language support, user profiles, push notifications, and much more!

In terms of app development costs, this roughly translates to over 160,000 AUD and over 2,400 hours of hard work. 

We worked with Intro dating to incorporate videos into Dating. Please contact us if you would like an awesome mobile app similar to Intro dating.

3. Technologies and Tools Used

Furthermore, when considering design complexity or technology requirements such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), or — you’ve guessed it, Artificial intelligence (AI), you’ll notice the price tag changing rather drastically from thousands up to tens of thousands or more.

Put simply, the number of technologies and tools used, as well as the number of features have an impact on the final cost of app development. This doesn’t mean, however, you should hold back from creating a fun, engaging app just because the price tag comes off as expensive.

4. Security and Other Maintenance Costs

Mobile apps can also get more expensive with the frequent security updates crucial for both the company and the user. Mobile apps require constant maintenance thanks to the rapid evolution of technology. We could go as far as to say that it’s an ongoing process that never actually ends.

You should take into account additional expenses when creating your budget and timeline. To be on the safe side, allocate about 50% of the initial cost of your project for the security and maintenance of your app.

5. Testing and Quality Assurance

Before launching your app, make sure you take your sweet time testing it! Invest in confirming all technical features work flawlessly and that user feedback is positive. 

Don’t let quality assurance costs scare you. In fact, it doesn’t have to break the bank. It can actually save you money by identifying potential issues before launch and avoiding complications after the launch. 

It’s safe to say that taking extra time for pre-launch usability tests will provide users with an exceptional experience while helping avoid costly problems down the line!

6. Your Understanding and Planning Abilities

Every project is different.  So, do your research, understand what goes into the process of creating an app, and weigh the pros and cons of each decision. Undoubtedly, mobile app development is not cheap but having a good understanding of influencing factors makes you better equipped to build the app of your dreams without stressing over the expenses.

Educate yourself and get a better understanding of what building an app from scratch involves by checking out our educational articles on app development or watching our comprehensive video tutorials on mobile app development.

What Are The Costs Of App Maintenance?

Since both Apple and Google announced their intent to clean up their marketplaces, is estimated that over 3,000 semi-active apps will be removed from the App Store alone. This shows how imperative it is to keep apps updated at all times.

Besides, rolling out new versions every once in a while enables you to keep up with security best practices and create a better overall user experience. 

By taking the time and effort to update your app, you’re showing users you care about them and their experience with your app and you might even reduce the number of uninstalls which ultimately leads to fluctuating or decreasing ROI (Return On Investment).

So how much does app maintenance cost? Although it depends on a variety of factors, most of them being discussed in this section, app support and maintenance services can take from 20% to even 50% of the initial cost of your project per year.

Some Of Ongoing Cost For Mobile App Development
Some Of Ongoing Cost For Mobile App Development

What Are The Risks Of Developing A Mobile App?

Nothing great comes with no risk — and that’s particularly true in mobile app development. Mobile app development can be costly, and failing to properly assess the risks associated with building and running an app may bring down your business.

The most concerning app development and maintenance risks are IT security threats (e.g., malware and ransomware), the rejection or removal from the App Store or Google Play marketplaces, and decreased ROI due to poor user engagement and high uninstall rates. All of this adds up to the “final” price of any mobile app.

If you are running a medium or large-scale business, it is essential to invest in enterprise-level development to ensure that you make the most out of your app. Not only will it create an app that can handle multiple users and support complex processes over time, but also allow customisation to perfectly match your business needs and keep up with your ever-changing industry.

At EB Pearls, we provide data-driven insights on the cost of developing apps so you can make informed decisions tailored to your individual needs. This brings us to our next point.

How To Choose The Right App Development Team?

To make sure your app turns out successful, finding a reliable app development partner is a must. When assessing an app development company, consider their portfolio, their responsiveness, and dependability when it comes to customer support. Take a moment to do some research and compare prospective partners to find the one that meets all of your needs.

Consider the tools and programming languages they use in the app development process, as some might specialise in particular platforms. This is why some web development agencies may be a better fit for your overall vision of a great mobile app than others.

How To Reduce The Cost Of Developing Your App Without Compromising Quality?

Reducing Mobile App Development Cost Without Compromising Quality
Reducing Mobile App Development Cost Without Compromising Quality

You can significantly cut down the cost of building your app by:

  • Having a comprehensive understanding of the scope of your project

Know exactly what needs to be done and how your development team can accomplish that to reduce app development costs and focus on essential components needed for seamless app performance and user experience. By planning in advance and avoiding unnecessary features, you’ll be able to launch a successful app in time even on a tight budget!

  • Investing the necessary resources in your project planning stage

Leveraging the right technologies is a surefire way to keep costs as low as possible while preserving quality. When the nature and scope of your project permit, don’t shy away from open-source solutions as they’re often great free-of-charge alternatives. Or perhaps you could benefit from cloud-based technology that eliminates expensive infrastructure setup costs but also increases efficiency through remote and proactive collaborations.

  • Working with an experienced development team

Contrary to common belief, working with experienced designers and developers will help you cut down costs instead of adding to the expenses. Why is that? From our perspective, having a lot of hands-on experience means we’re not going to make the same mistakes again.

Human error can happen, but dealing with it most efficiently is key to reducing the number of hours put into the project and increasing the overall performance. Steer clear of agencies telling you that their process is entirely flawless — inconsistencies and bugs will always occur in the mobile app development process, as every application is unique.

However, if a development company has a great research and development team, they’re not going to spend too much precious time testing tools and technologies during the project, saving you hours of work in the end.

With almost two decades of experience, we already have what it takes to build successful apps, and we have a variety of tools and libraries in our possession that enables us to quickly and easily build digital products and ensure the highest quality possible at a reasonable price. We have continuously improved our resource management abilities, which allows us to plan efficiently and deliver results right from the start.

Tips: You can get some cost relief by utilising some of the resources, AWS Free tier and Applying for Government Grants such as NSW MVP Grant, NSW Venture Grant, R & D Tax incentive and others.

What Are Common Myths About the Cost of Developing an App?

There are several misconceptions about the cost associated with building and running a mobile application. Below we’ll take a look at three of the most common app development myths and what you can do instead.

1. Relying on App Templates Helps Cut Down Costs

Building an app from the ground up is not simple, and it’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all kind of job. With the rise of no-code app builders and Artificial Intelligence that can write the code for you instead, it’s tempting to cut corners and create a mobile application superficially.

For your app to become successful, you need to put a lot of thought and effort into design, development, and maintenance. Just think of how many hours you’d have to invest into this project, time that you could spend more wisely on other areas of your business.

Starting from a template can be useful in some cases. Still, for more complex applications, you need a team of professionals to carefully plan and build it from scratch to ensure a smooth user experience in the long run.

User testing plays a huge role here. If the software you’re building does not meet the expectations of your target users, that means they’re not going to use your app in the first place.

2. Outsourcing App Development Is Too Expensive

To outsource or not, that is the question. There’s a common misconception that outsourcing software development may lead to failure. However, realistically speaking, it can save you tons of money and other resources when working with the right app development company.

By working with a reliable and experienced development agency, you’ll be able to launch your application quickly and efficiently while saving money on the overall software development expenses that come with hiring an in-house team of designers and developers.

3. There Are a Lot of “Hidden” Expenses When it Comes to Building an App

Data storage and processing, security, or software licences are some of the most common “hidden” costs of mobile application development.

However, with proper planning and understanding of the scope of your project, there actually is no such thing as “hidden” expenses. You’ll find that all of these necessary tasks, tools, or processes require a lot of work, therefore adding to the final price tag of a mobile app.

To prevent these hidden expenses, get as informed as possible on what exactly goes into the app-building process and communicate your needs clearly to the team you’re working with. This way, you won’t come across any surprise costs and you can better stick to your initial budget.

5 Mobile App Development Tips For Budget-Minded Entrepreneurs

1. Learn, Learn, Learn

It is necessary for everyone involved in the development project to know and understand key concepts. As a client, understanding the process and what you can expect will ultimately save you resources like time and money.

2. Communicate Openly at All Times

Communicating consistently and transparently with the development team throughout the entire app development process will ensure for the final product meets your expectations with minimal rework. 

Clear and concise communication will also help cut down expenses, as rework can significantly increase development costs and delay the launch of your app. More specifically,  provide timely feedback, ask questions freely, and check in regularly with the company you’re working with on this project.

3. Prioritize Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Features

When working with a tight budget, having an MVP strategy is key. Start by prioritizing features and removing any unnecessary items that are too time-consuming. Dig deep into the user experience, decide what is fundamental to the user, and avoid getting sidetracked by the small details that don’t add much value to the overall experience. Always know that a minimalist approach can take you far, allowing you to reduce costs while preserving quality.

Prioritise Minimum Viable Product (Mvp) Features
Prioritise Minimum Viable Product (Mvp) Features

4. Reduce Rework with Proper Testing

App development costs can indeed go higher than expected if any significant rework or editing is needed during the process. To prevent this, encourage proper testing early in the design and development stages. By minimizing the need for rework in the later stages of the process, you can drastically cut down on time and costs in the long run.

5. Outsource App Development

The truth is that 37% of small businesses outsource at least one of their business processes. Outsourcing app development is a no-brainer since building an app in-house is often much more expensive. Besides the costs associated with designing, building, and testing the app, you’ll also have to hire additional staff with the technical skills to do the job.

By outsourcing app development, you can substantially reduce costs and get access to expertise from a global pool of talent without having to worry about scaling up your own team. This enables you to focus on other aspects of your business as you launch your mobile application idea into reality!

Determining The Cost Of Developing an App: Bottom Line

Not all app development projects are the same. The complexity of your project, the platform where it runs, security updates, and the app development partner, all impact the final price tag. That being said, we recommend not making your decision based on costs alone but also on how experienced and reliable the company is.

Here at EB Pearls, we understand that sticking to the budget is often a priority when it comes to creating a customised app, so we have the experience and tools to help you keep costs down while still achieving high-quality results.

With us, you can get everything you need in one place — from design and development services to quality assurance and beyond. Our goal is simple: creating value with solutions tailored to your needs, no matter what they might be.

Learn more about our Mobile Services and contact us today if you’re ready to develop your mobile application on time and within budget!

Akash Shakya

Coming from distributed computing background, Akash manages the Sydney operations. He is highly technical yet very business focused and is always driven to create successful business products for our clients.

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“We’re very happy with the results of EB Pearls’ work. Since its launch, the app has had over 7,000 downloads, with around 6,000 users completing the signup process in the first 6 weeks. ”

Giuseppe Saffioti
Giuseppe Saffioti

— Founder at Intro Dating