App Development 101: The cost of building an app

Jun 26, 2010
Tech

One of the most asked questions when it comes to app development is how much it costs. While it might seem like an easy question to answer, it is quite difficult to put a single price on it. An app can greatly range in production cost based on a multitude of factors. In the next […]

One of the most asked questions when it comes to app development is how much it costs. While it might seem like an easy question to answer, it is quite difficult to put a single price on it. An app can greatly range in production cost based on a multitude of factors. In the next edition of our App Development 101 series, Spencer Forrest of Appiction explains how to determine the cost of developing an app.

 

Like building a house, the cost of developing an app can vary greatly depending on what amenities you want to include. It’s hard to put a simple price tag on the development of an app without first understanding what functions the app will offer.  The time needed to develop features as well as the ongoing cost for hosting and maintenance varies with every app. A bare bones app with minimal functionality could run as low as $1,000 but with the addition of features such as GPS, accelerometers, social networking and more, the price can climb upwards of $100,000. It’s important to sit with your developer and decide what your goals are for the app and what the most important features are to accomplish those goals.  Then price those features out and decide which ones are “need” to have features and which ones are “nice” to have features.  Although there are many factors that can contribute to an app’s price, below is a list of some of the most common factors that can affect price:

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• A quick turnaround time – Whether it’s a garden or an app, the faster it has to be done, the more it will cost you.

• Connecting to a server – If people will be connecting with one another through your app or large amounts of information need to be stored or backed up outside of the phone, your app is going to need a server. This means you will not only need to take into account the cost of the server setup, but also the ongoing price for hosting.

• If there are unique sounds, music, graphics or video that accompanies your app – An artist may have to be hired to create original art for an app.  In the case of sounds and music, either these elements will have to be recorded or licensed from a third party.

• Researched data – If you are planning an app that will require content which includes a long list of current businesses or movie and TV times then this information will likely be licensed from a third party. Your developer can usually help you do this, but you will have to pay ongoing licensing fees.

• Breaking Apple design – Although unique design can immerse an app user in a fuller experience and enhance the appeal of an app, resisting Apple’s design paradigms can take longer and consequently cost more.

• A web back-end – Some apps may require a back-end that is real-time to allow for moderation and the addition of new information and feeds on-demand.

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Rachel Youens

Rachel Youens is the Marketing Director for Austin, Texas-based smartphone app development house, Appiction. Rachel has worked in tech and media for a number of years with companies including FOX and Current TV, and in her spare time uses apps to chronicle her wardrobe, meals, books, movies and city wildlife.

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