At the onset of 2018, Apple’s App Store had about 2.2 million mobile applications and the Google Play Store listed around 2.8 million apps available for download. If industry observers are to be believed, these figures are slated to double over the next two years, along with a reduction in mobile app development cost due to rising competition.
Every day, news stories appear about an app-based business receiving million dollar funding or how a mobile app is helping to make the world a better place to live by empowering society. With the demand for enterprise mobile applications remaining high, the mobile app economy is headed for a meteoric rise in the coming years.
In the quest for higher revenues and growth, many more businesses have started realising the potential of mobile applications. However, a pertinent question foremost in the mind of a potential client seeking to get his mobile application built is how much would mobile app development cost, especially with 2019 soon approaching and new technologies rapidly disrupting mobile application development methodologies.
Featuring amongst the most preferred countries for Outsourced Product Development (OPD) owing to low app development cost and unmatched quality assurance, India today attracts the majority of the outsourced mobile app development business.
If compared globally, mobile app development cost in India by far remains the most economical. In fact, as per a rough estimate while getting an iOS mobile app developed in the US costs approximately $100 - $150/hour, the cost of getting the same app developed in India is roughly around $20-$40/hour. Android app cost estimation in India also works out reasonably low at about $25-$35/hour, while the cost of getting that same app developed escalates to around $120 - $170/hour in the United States. These are, however, generalised figures for a good quality senior developer. The exact rates vary from developer to developer and are also influenced by the precise requirements of the project and various other factors that we will discuss here.
Let’s have a deeper dive into the various factors that greatly influence mobile app development cost:
Mobile App Development Cost is based on Scale, Functionality, Complexity, and Platform
The most important factor that influences mobile app development cost is the scale of the mobile application along with the functionality that it offers to users.
A large-scale, cross-platform mobile application; targeted at a wider audience, transcending geographical boundaries, costs more since it requires more time and effort to build. One such example is cab service provider, Uber’s mobile application which is downloaded and used across various countries.
Such large-scale mobile applications with dynamic functionalities, often requiring data integration from third-party sources like Google Maps, can only be built by large teams of highly-skilled and experienced developers which naturally come at a steep price. On the other hand, while less complex native mobile applications can be built much more economically by engaging a freelancer or a small team of 2-3 developers, hiring an offshore team escalates the mobile app development cost many times.
Third party data integrations increase the app development cost to a huge extent. In fact, as the number of integrations required or the number of systems the app needs to interact with increase, so will the development cost of the mobile application.
Another thing to be remembered while considering mobile app development cost estimation in India is that large applications, designed for enterprise clients, require high-security features such as single sign-on, encryption, and multi-level administrative rights. Incorporating such features requires a completely different platform architecture, which results in cost escalation.
Mobile apps that require a back-end server or integrating APIs are much costlier to build in comparison to standalone apps. An incredible statistic about the popular Instagram app – they spent a whopping $500K of venture funding in building a new front-end and back-end.
Now let’s touch upon another important factor that directly influences mobile app development cost, the platform. Geographical considerations play a major role in deciding on whether the app will be built cross-platform, for Android or for iOS. While iOS has a bigger market share in developed countries located across North America and Europe along with Australia, Android has a strong market base in the developing continents of Asia and Africa. Although the app development cost is almost the same for both Android and iOS, cost variations can occur due to factors like hourly rates, time spent and adaptation.
Another overlapping cost factor is what OS versions the app supports. Keeping a more frugal approach, ideally, an Android or iOS app should support the last two OS versions as achieving compatibility with the older OS versions leads to increase in app development cost.
In fact, this is a major problem with Android which has a high level of device fragmentation due to multiple OEMs producing a large variety of devices. Many Android users still continue to run older OS versions and it becomes a headache for developers when it comes to fixing bugs and dealing with security issues. However, this problem is non-existent in iOS as Apple is the sole OEM and produces only a handful of models.
App Development Cost Varies According to Approach
One of the prominent determiners of mobile app development cost is the approach adopted for development. The four basic approaches to mobile application development are native applications (iOS, Android), hybrid apps (Cordova, Sencha, Xamarin, Ionic), React Native and progressive web apps.
Before we delve deeper into the subject and discuss in detail how these four mobile application development approaches differ from each other, it is important to understand how choosing a particular approach directly affects the mobile app development cost.
The formula for calculating the cost of developing a mobile application through different approaches is provided in the below infographic:
If we assume that the value of x=$10000, according to the above formula, the cost of building a mobile application through various approaches will be:
Total cost of developing a Native App = $20,000
Total cost of developing a Hybrid App= $14,000 to $16,000
Total cost of developing a React Native App = $12,000 to $15,000
Total cost of developing a Progressive Web App = $12,000
Kellton Speak: We at Kellton Tech Solutions Ltd. advise our clients to choose the right mobile app development approach, according to their business needs while keeping the mobile app development cost in mind.
The rule of thumb is that if the requirement is of an external customer-facing mobile application which can deliver an enriching user experience (UX), then native app is the best option. Native apps are the most common type of apps and provide the best performance. They are downloaded on devices from app stores.
However, the cost of ownership is highest in native, as developing such apps requires resources like time and money. Moreover, since native apps are built for a single platform, a separate app has to be developed for each app store and optimised for different screen resolutions.
But irrespective of the app development cost, if your application requires latest and advanced functionalities like AR/VR, sending push notifications, the ability to work offline, accessing device features, etc., it can only be achieved through native approach.
A hybrid mobile application is a crossover between a web app and a native app. It can be installed on a device, like a native app but functions like a web app and is rendered through a browser. Although it has elements of a native app, its boundaries of functionality don’t extend beyond what HTML5 can offer.
Although a hybrid app is cheaper to develop in comparison to a native app, it too has its flipside. The app development cost of hybrid is more than a standard web application because it requires a native wrapper which has to be additionally built. Hybrid apps are also low on performance when compared to native applications. Besides, too much customization would mean moving away from the hybrid approach, so why not go for native instead?
While web app is the cheapest option, it won’t work if you are developing an app for iWatch, as the app would require accessing device features which web apps aren’t capable of doing. Web apps don’t need to be downloaded from app stores, like native apps and are instead rendered through browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.
A few years back, Facebook introduced React Native, a framework that can help build cross-platform mobile apps. Since React Native offers ready-to-apply components, application development is made faster. React Native allows sharing codebase between platforms, which saves both time and money. The apps built using React Native are real and give a native app feel. However, a major drawback with using React Native is that despite the availability of custom modules, native coding in iOS or Android is still required for accessing device features like camera and push notifications thereby adding complexities and increasing costs.
In reality, making an accurate assessment of mobile app development cost is an abstract notion based on hypothesis, especially when the exact requirements of an app development project are not clearly laid out. However, an approximate calculation can be derived by going through the information provided in this blog. I hope it helps the readers!