How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Mobile App?

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.

Mobile app development is an exact science and any business app developer knows that! Mobile app developers for iPhone as well as Android, charge depending on the complexity of the project.

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Mark M. Stetler is CEO of AppMuse and its related businesses: iPhoneAppQuotes.com, iPadApplicationQuotes.com, AndroidAppDevelopmentQuotes.com, and BlackberryAppDevelopmentQuotes.com. AppMuse is the Internet's leading provider of free app development quotes from experienced, pre-screened app developers for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry smart phones.

16 Comments to “How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Mobile App?”

  1. [...] post on how much it costs to develop a mobile app has had more traffic than any other article we’ve posted.  We noted there a blog post by Alex [...]

  2. Would Your Tenants Use a Mobile App? - Self-Storage Talk says:

    [...] (and maintenance) today. Are these figures in the ballpark? $100/hour for a mobile app developer? http://appmuse.com/appmusing/how-muc…-a-mobile-app/ __________________ John Carlisle Community Manager, Self-Storage Talk Associate Editor, [...]

  3. troy says:

    Hi

    How do I protect my app idea?

    Cheers

  4. Dina says:

    How much, roughly, would an iPhone app cost that involved E-commerce tracking software? Such as, an app that a consumer would go on and track their shipment…

    • Mark Stetler says:

      Dina – development costs vary depending on complexity of the app. Although it may seem that some apps would be relatively inexpensive to develop, that is not always the case. For example, a tracking app such as you mention would require connection to one or more databases with the shipping information. Whether the databases exist or have to be created, how the connections are made, and other variables factor into the cost. If you’re interested in pursuing the project, we can get you three free (no obligation) quotes that will give you an idea of the cost to develop your app. Just fill out our quote request form and we’ll contact you.

      Mark Stetler

    • Michaël says:

      Once social features are added or having a Backend, expect an increase of 4k – 8k (maybe more depending on the complexity of features). I’m talking about a workshop development, not a big software firm.

  5. Chris says:

    Thank you – this was informative. In addition to the information that you have provided I would love to get a better sense of the total cost – it seems like the article focused costing on just application development (developer). Were other cost included such as project management, requirements analysis, testing and graphics design work?

    • AppMuse says:

      Chris – the article was focused on just development costs and not on the other costs in bringing an app to market.

  6. [...] Stetler, M. (2011, January 11). How much does it cost to develop a mobile app?. Retrieved fromhttp://appmuse.com/appmusing/how-much-does-it-cost-to-develop-a-mobile-app/ [...]

  7. [...] from $3,000 to $8,000. (More complex or recognized brand apps can cost from $50,000 to $150,000). [4] Beyond that, you’ll need to pay for regular hosting, and make sure the app is compatible [...]

  8. [...] by virtually every cell phone manufactured since 2006. And all for a tiny fraction of the high cost to develop a mobile [...]

  9. [...] problem with these and other similar estimates (like these  and these) is that they are generally talking to an audience interested in developing consumer [...]

  10. Lucy Rosewood says:

    I think in 2012, with the fierce amount of competition that is about, you can get mobile apps developed for very little, but I guess you get what you pay for sometimes, otherwise you can get yourself a bargain!

    • Georges says:

      Yep, I hired a developer overseas to develop my app which initially asked for 3500$, then two weeks later, I got an ‘ok’ app, even though I gave him the designs, and no way now I can get him to do important changes.

      So now I’m without an app and short 3500$.

      The best is to hire someone in your city, someone you can go and sit face to face, and talk with them about your expectations of the app.

      • Adam says:

        Another thing to keep in mind is OEM model porting and app management/upgrade costs. Just because an app is written for Android for example does not mean it will work the same on every phone. So ask the developer for that. You will generally pay the same initial development cost for each OS.
        Regarding app complexity, generally the more the app uses the phone’s hardware and local services the more complex and expensive porting and management will be.

  11. Bravo’s Silicon Valley Reality Show Is Now Filming | Once Upon An Albatross… says:

    [...] team a half-million dollars to develop a fitness app in an overcrowded niche? Developing an app can cost up to $150,000 USD, depending on how complex and feature rich the app is. If you’re going to develop a new app, [...]

  12. [...] team a half-million dollars to develop a fitness app in an overcrowded niche? Developing an app can cost up to $150,000 USD, depending on how complex and feature rich the app is. If you’re going to develop a new app, [...]

  13. mobile application development says:

    hello,
    the cost of mobile application developer vary according to the project need

  14. [...] How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Mobile App? [...]

  15. [...] AppMuse – How much does it cost to develop a mobile app? [...]

  16. […] According to a very good article from AppMuse: […]

  17. […] inexpensive to the consumer (since it's usually free or only a few dollars), but did you know these apps can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 to develop? Consider an app like Marriott's, which includes […]

  18. […] of a business’ advertising budget. A study of mobile developers by AppMuse found that the average cost of application development is $6,453. The management of the application can be piped through the same stream as the website. […]

    • Robert Gurley says:

      The biggest variable in app-development costs is probably the amount of flexibility the developer is willing to show with regards to payment. Licensing might work on a monthly basis, a percentage of revenue, or an upfront charge for development work and source code.

  19. Jorge says:

    Hi,

    This article provides very useful information and good details on how to calculate the costs of developing an app.
    I have a question:
    What kind of experience have you had on app development for international markets. I´m currently in the process of finding an app developer for a business idea that would be implemented in a country of Latin America (Honduras). Based on your expertise what would you recommend if I want to develop an app for the Latino market outside the US?
    Thanks.

  20. vlad says:

    You won’t need to choose whether your app should be native or HTML5 as there’re lots of cloud-based services which allow making a single app that’s distributed to all major platforms such as iOS, Android and HTML5.

  21. martin roche says:

    how much cost is reasonable to develop a mobile app for a single
    practioner and one location which can also integrate to the web site or use the mobile app to make appointments or ask questions?

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