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App development cost in 2021 3 App development cost in 2021
Review: 4 - App development cost in 2021

These days business and technology go hand in hand. The growth of interest for smartphones is a great opportunity to bring your product or the service closer to your customers. Mobile apps are just necessary for almost any kind of business. So if you considered setting it up, perhaps you already wondered, “How much does it cost to make an app?”

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Illustration by Lily for Fireart Studio

The price of making an app in 2021

Recent research reports that the cost would be somewhere between $5,000 and $500,000. And it can be even more if your app offers more complex functionality. The complexity, team location, design, features, and time limits are just some aspects that will affect the final cost.

We created this post to help you find out what exactly makes this difference and calculate the price of your application in 2021.

App Development Cost Standards

Here are some relevant sources that studied and calculated the possible spendings and timeline. The official surveys and statistics supply the following data:

  • Statista reports that in 2017, the median cost of creating an app ranged from $85 to $150 per hour in the US and Canada. Meanwhile, in South America, the average price was between $50 and $60 per hour.
  • Clutch agency survey in 2016 showed that the cost to build a mobile app was about $170,000.
  • Enterprise Mobility Exchange reported that in 2016 the most usual cost varied from $250,000 to $500,000, according to almost 30% of respondents.
  • Magic Quadrant survey by Gartner MADP concluded that in 2017 the low-priced development varied between $25,000 and $100,000, while the highest price reached $100,000.
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Illustration by Dzmitry Kazak for Fireart Studio

The Price of Mobile App Development in 2021

Due to global economic changes and general technological progress, the figures on the price tags are likely to keep increasing.

Here you will find the core aspects of the app development process, focusing on how they may change the price. 

We will divide apps into a few most usual types. Also, we will list the aspects that are important if you would like to calculate the more exact total.

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Illustration by Anastasia Golub for Fireart Studio

What factors impact the price of a mobile app?

These are the key components you need to take into account when estimating your app’s price.

  • Features and Functionality
  • Platform Adaptation
  • Backend System and App Organization
  • Who Is Developing Your App
  • Outsourcing or In-house Development
  • Maintaining Costs

Features and functionality

The initial factor we will reckon with is the functionality of your app which depends on the aim of your product and its target audience. 

As Paul Fruia, VP engineer from Softeq agency, said in his interview for Clutch, “The biggest cost driver is the features. The complexity of the app, how many buttons, how many fields, how many screens, the amount of logic required, that’s 60 percent to 80 percent or more of the cost of the app.

Some features, such as user login and registration, search, push notifications, file uploading, and regular messaging, are essentials for almost any type of app. Users will need these functions for navigation and performing straightforward tasks.

The latest research shows that the price of these features is estimated at the average range between $1,500 and $6,500, relying on their specifics. Thereby, prices of push notifications vary from $500 to $2000, whereas the basic messaging price range is $2,500 – $7,500.

Features such as payment system integration, calls, geolocations, and audio or video streamings are more advanced. It’s more time-consuming to provide, and accordingly, your application development cost will increase. The price for integrations and connectivity with other devices may be somewhere between $7000 and $16000. For example, the average price of the payment system is $4,500. The calling system, which may cost approximately $12,000, is the priciest.

Finally, if you want to build an innovative app with the use of advanced technologies, you should be ready for significant growth in the cost of making an app. These are Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR), machine learning with chatbots, or GPS navigation. Due to the complications, custom app development cost starts at $150,000 and may go up. 

These numbers state a clear distinction between different types of applications and the requirements for their features. Summing up, what do we have at this stage?

  • Common app: $1,500 – $6,500
  • More complex app: $7,000 – $16,000
  • Advanced app: $150,000+
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Illustration by Lily for Fireart Studio

Platforms

The platforms where your app should work is another important decision, and the prices will also depend on this choice. There are a few approaches to this question, and both of them have their fors and againsts.

If you opt for a native app, you will have another choice. Should you prefer iOS or Android? Each of them is widely used and either of them may be beneficial. Make your choice relying on your app’s target users. iOS development is time-consuming and the applications have a large audience. But its main drawback is the strict guidelines you should follow to appear on the App Store. Meanwhile, Android normally decreases mobile app development cost.

A cross-platform app is adapted to both Android and iOS systems. It is easier to develop and will cut costs, but its capability and speed may be much lower. It`s not recommended to use a hybrid approach if you want any device’s hardware to be accessible. It also brings the clients better usability. In addition, the latest surveys show that in general, the native approach is more preferable. It could be expensive and will take more time to create, though.

Among other influencing factors, adapting to tablets and older versions of platforms will make app development cost more than 50% costlier.

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Illustration by Lily for Fireart Studio

Backend infrastructure and app organization

Backend development is necessary for app features, providing the connection between app infrastructure and database. It helps collect more information about users’ needs, analyze their activity, and give more complex statistics. This kind of service used to be one of the most expensive since storing and processing data requires permanent investments. However, at present, backend development is included in many popular features. These are geolocation, Google Maps integration, data encryption, and streaming of video and audio files.

It’s still quite costly, depending on what kind of data you need to process and how specific it is. But using the cloud, platform, and infrastructure services, you may not make your app’s functional relevant to your business needs.

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Illustration by Yuliia Dobrokhod for Fireart Studio

Location and Structure of a Development Team

Another important factor that impacts mobile app cost is the geographical factor. Many American-based businesses are looking for cheaper prices that off-shore companies can offer. In-house development normally costs a lot more. Let’s try to figure out why geography matters and the average cost to make an app in the most popular areas for development.

Researchers report that the most usual areas where the service may be provided are the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, Ukraine, Indonesia, and India. Let’s take a look at the hourly cost ranges in these areas.

American development teams are expectedly the most expensive. The common price varies between $60 and $130 per hour. Canada (from $90 to $130 per hour), Australia (from $90 to $120), and the UK (from $50 to $75) can also be considered quite expensive. South America is another popular destination, being three times cheaper than North America (from $30 to $60). Eastern Europe and Asia offer the least costly service. App development in Ukraine costs $30–$50 per hour. Indonesian and Indian developers will be satisfied with earning $25–$35 per hour.

Summing up these statistics, small startups and businesses are looking for more affordable offers in South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia. The difference in prices is significant. Still, some additional factors should be taken into consideration. Firstly, time zone differences and language barriers may affect communication. And secondly, it is much harder to control the development and protect commercial information. But the reasonable price and quality can outweigh these disadvantages.

Outsourcing or In-house Development

As we’ve stated before, outsourcing is becoming much more usual. Clients look for local development because they wish to make communication easier. Yet, today even big and experienced agencies work remotely. Developers can always be in touch with managers and clients, using alternative ways of communication.

Even working with off-shore teams can be not so stressful as it may seem at first glance. Professional teams do their best to meet requirements and deadlines. Hence, working with outsourced developers is both time-saving and cost-efficient. 

Also, you will have to choose between working with a mobile app development shop and freelancers. If you search for the cheapest option, that would be an independent contractor. But teamwork of qualified developers usually is more efficient. An agency like Fireart Studio will guide you through all stages of building an app, guaranteeing reliability and professionalism.

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Illustration by Dzmitry Kazak for Fireart Studio

Cost of maintaining an app

Post-release expenses are not less crucial than any other development stage. Your app’s maintenance will also need some investments. It includes bug fixing, updates, adding new features, stability control, supporting the newest OS version, and other services vital to your app after its launch.

Even if you don’t want to develop new features, maintaining it will still be necessary. Thereby, your cooperation with the technical team won’t finish. The average maintenance cost is approximately 15-25% of the overall development cost yearly. So if you`ve spent $12,000 on your app creation, there will be the required annual fee of approximately $2,400.

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Calculating the Price of App Development 

Some websites offer to use the calculating tool on their websites for summarizing the mobile app development cost estimate. So to get an idea of the possible price, you can use this option, filling in information about the specifics of your future application.

Examples of online calculators offered by well-known agencies:

You will normally be asked to inform about:

  • Your app’s goals
  • Is your app online or offline
  • Functions, features, and platforms 
  • The backend’s specifics
  • UI, animation, and digital illustrations

The total remains quite inaccurate due to the risk that more spendings and complications may appear. So the best way to calculate your app’s cost is to have a detailed discussion with your technical partners before starting the production.

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Illustration by Julia Hanke for Fireart Studio

How Much Time to Spend on App Development

Another common thing to ask is how long it may take to build a mobile app. First of all, the specifics of the app have a major impact. Creating a common app with basic functionality might take less than one month. Advanced development may last three months or more.

The size of the shop you chose to work with and its location also matter. Smaller agencies often work faster, as well as independent contractors. But it doesn’t always mean that you will get what you expect. Larger shops will usually provide you with more clear terms. Professional teams are under better control and management, which means they normally meet deadlines. They also inform you about the progress at every phase of development. 

Here are generalized terms based on the application’s complexity.

  • A usual app with key features will take from 1 to 6 months to develop.
  • A more complex app with a medium number of features (payment system, integration of maps, etc.) can be created in 3-9 months.
  • Advanced and on-demand app development could last for 9 months and beyond.
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Illustration by Aslan Almukhambetov for Fireart Studio

Final Calculations

Having examined all the data above, you are probably less confused about the question of how much does it cost to make an app. But for better convenience, let’s collect all important facts and sum up the average price. To lessen the range, let’s take into account only Easern European market. 

  • Type and aim of your app

If your app is basic and doesn`t need any specific features, the price will range between $1,500 and $6,500, taking about 1-6 months to build.

A more complicated app, needing some extra features to be involved, will cost up to $7,000 – $16,000, requiring 3-9 months to develop.

For a large project with advanced functions, the price will be $150,000+ within more than 9 months timeline.

  • Type of the platform, backend development, and organization.

These factors also matter. For instance, the prices for iOS and Android operating systems are fairly equal. Meanwhile, the native-based platform approach costs more than the hybrid one. Creating a backend for collecting data and analytics will also increase app development charges.

  • Development team type and location

Selecting the agency will also have an impact. Outsourced shops based in Eastern Europe and Asia are the most cost-saving options, while big in-house agencies in the USA, Canada, Australia, and Western Europe are far more costly.

  • Maintenance

The price of post-release expenses is about 20% of the average cost to develop an app.

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Illustration by Vladislav Olshevsky for Fireart Studio

Start your journey

We hope that this post helped you to make your plans of creating an app closer to reality. Just remember that the prices and time needed to make it also depend on your awareness, flexibility, and decision-making skills. Weigh the pros and cons, analyze your audience and look for a team that will accompany you on this journey. We at Fireart Studio are always ready to join your ambitious project, supporting it with the help of our qualified designers and developers. Do not hesitate to drop us a line, and we will be there for you!

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