At AppMuse, we’re in the business of connecting people with ideas for mobile apps with experienced app developers. In the process, we get lots of questions about app development. Probably the number one question we get is “how much does it cost to develop a mobile app?” If I had a nickel for every time we’ve had that question … well, I wouldn’t quit my day job, but I would probably make the baristas at my local coffee shop at lot happier.
So, what does it cost to develop a mobile app? That’s a lot like asking how much does it cost to buy a car or build a house – it depends on what kind of car you’re buying or house you’re building. That cool-looking Cube costs a lot less than an Italian sports car. A modest house in the Midwest costs a lot less to build than a modest house in Palo Alto. Still, it is possible to give some rough guidelines on app development costs.
Alex Ahlund, former CEO of AppVee and AndroidApps, and later an advisor to Appolicious, wrote a guest blog article about app sales on TechCrunch. According to that article, a survey of 96 mobile app developers showed the average cost to develop an app was $6,453. An article on OS X Daily about iPhone Development Costs reported that the development cost range for “small apps” is $3,000 to $8,000 and that “more complex or recognized brand apps” can cost $50,000 to $150,000. A well-written article on PadGadget.com explored The Cost of Building an iPad App and suggested the development costs (as compared to design and other costs) range from $12,000 to $150,000 or more.
That sounds like a lot. And it is. But if you consider that the average app developer in the US charges around $100 per hour, the time required to code even a “simple” app quickly pushes the cost up. Could you go offshore and get a developer for a much lower hourly rate? Sure. The problem is, like most things in life, you get what you pay for. We get several requests a month from people wanting a US-based developer to “fix” cheap code. We call these “shattered projects.” Others call them “distressed projects.” Whatever you call them, “saving” money on the front end could end up costing you more in the end.
The only sure way to find out what it will cost to get your app idea developed is to get some quotes from experienced app developers. They can discuss the details of your idea with you and give you a pretty good idea of what it will cost. Getting three quotes is helpful as it will give you an idea if a quote is too high (or too low, which can be just as bad). Whatever you do, Don’t Pay to Train an App Developer. For help on finding a developer, see our post on Finding a Developer for Your App Idea or fill out our quote request form.