Procurement 20 December 2016

How much does it cost to make a small business mobile app?

mobile app
Most app categories posted year-on-year growth in 2016

What is the approximate cost of developing a mobile app for your small business? Here, software engineer Sohel Ather runs through some considerations owners need to make to figure it out.

In the last couple of years, the mobile app market has exploded. Mobile app usage grew by 58 per cent between 2015 and 2016, with US consumers downloading 8.8 apps a month on average on iOS and Android devices.

Except for games, every single app category posted year-on-year growth in 2016 with personalisation, news and productivity leading the way in app growth.

Today, most businesses and brands, irrespective of sector and size, are opting for a mobile app, as it can be a game-changing marketing tool for them to drive traffic and revenue.

However, developing a regular mobile app is not an easy task as there are lots of things small businesses need to think about. When business owners consider having an app for their business, often the first thing that comes to mind is how much it will cost to create.

To estimate the exact amount of developing a mobile app, it is important to have complete information about the app from the outset, like the platform you choose and the specific features and functionalities you want your business’s app to have. Think about who you are targeting with your app.

If you have a wonderful mobile app idea in mind, and you’re ready to move on to the development stage, you also might be curious to know how much it costs to develop just any kind of basic mobile app.

Factors affecting the cost of app development

Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS 

Once you have decided that you want an application for your business, now you must decide which platform – Android or iOS – to opt for. You can choose any of the platforms to build your app and reach your targeted audience.

Depending on which platform you choose, the price of its development will vary. When it comes to mobile app, for most businesses the options are either Android or iOS.

Generally, iOS apps are quicker to develop, whereas Android apps require two to three times longer to develop than the same app in iOS.

Apple tends to have a more engaged user-base, which is why various companies choose to launch iOS-only apps initially, then expand apps to the Android platform.

Over the last few years, Android has gained huge popularity in the app market, and some developers feel there is not a significant difference between the two platforms.

In addition, Android has wider market penetration and reach when considered from a marketing perspective, yet it’s the target audience of your app which should shape your decision on your chosen platform. If your target audience is from South America, Asia, or Africa, for example, Android is the best choice to go with, as it has wider penetration.

Although both platforms are increasingly accessible, the costs of both Android and iOS platforms are higher than they used to be. Android apps usually take a bit longer to develop on average, which in turn can translate to higher costs.

Features and functionalities

Another important factor that affects the cost of developing your mobile app are the features and functionalities that you wanted to include. For every app, there are numerous features that you could choose to develop, and each feature could be built at least a hundred different ways.

The excellent way to start defining what you need to develop in your app is to list out the features to priority. It will be best to develop a priority list of features for what needs to be built now and which features could be done in the future can help when it comes to budget and timeframe for your app.

However, priorities may change as you develop your app. It is helpful to organise what is essential to your app’s success. Once you make a priority list of features, you can easily decide what to include and what to leave out.

You can also choose some of major features rather than develop all the features that you have in mind. This will allow you to release your app earlier, and potentially save on development costs.

Types of Apps

After deciding on your app’s platform and features list, it’s time to dive into developing the app. Deciding on the type of app you are aiming to build and its technical specifications will be the single biggest factor in its cost.

Day-by-day, apps are becoming more and more dynamic, and there is practically no limit to what can be developed. Below are various different type of app and their approximate cost.

Simple & Table-based apps

This type of apps is mainly designed to show a relatively simple collection of information. It mainly presents information to users, who can in turn select from available options and be redirected to additional materials on any given topic. Usually, this type of app costs between £1,000, to £7,000.

Database-based apps 

Database-based apps are more complex and are mainly designed to enable users to search, sort and display data from very large data sets. To retrieve information, this type of app connects to a website or any other online web service. The price of such apps start at £5,000 and can be as much as £30,000.

Dynamic apps

Dynamic apps are like database apps, however instead of connecting to an online server for information, these types of apps need to cooperate with other platforms via APIs.

Gaming apps 

The most difficult type of app is the gaming app. A simple type of game can be need the equivalent of a dynamic app in terms of complexity and pricing. But complex, games like 3D environments or advanced physics engines, can be more expensive than any other app type.

How mobile app development companies estimate costs

There are various mobile app development companies that prefer to do a rough estimate of the project before sending a bill. All these firms do is identify the approximate time required to develop an app as per the documentation, description, user stories, specification or anything.

Once the rough estimation is approved by the customer, companies prefer to begin with a detailed estimate of the project where they identify the needs of decided work, begin with wireframes to show customers how their apps appear.

These are some of the factors that affect the cost of developing an app.  If you want to get your own mobile app with your desired features, you should keep these factors in mind.

Sohel Ather works for Space-O technologies Company as a guest blogger, he writes about the latest technologies and mobile applications.

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