iOS Development

Understanding App Development Costs

The global app industry will generate almost $700 billion in revenue in 2021. In 2022, the global app industry could generate over 808 billion in revenue.
Austin Betzer
Posted on
July 2, 2021
Minute Read

Opportunities in life, especially in the business world, occur via ambition and creation, not by mere chance.

That is prudent advice to consider if you want to know how to create an app and make money.

The global app industry will generate almost $700 billion in revenue in 2021. In 2022, the global app industry could generate over 808 billion in revenue. And by 2023, the global app industry is projected to become worth $935 billion.

Apps are getting progressively more popular every day with consumers. And if you want in on a piece of the action, you should start developing your app as soon as possible.

However, nothing is free, especially when it comes to the realization of business dreams.

So, how much does it cost to create an app?

Coming to such an answer is not a cut-and-dry process.

Depending on the app's complexity, marketability, functionality, and the time required for the development process, it can cost somewhere between tens of thousands of dollars up to a million dollars to develop an app.

In other words, you may not get a complete understanding of the cost of building an app until after the post-prototype development process is over.

Steve Jobs first conceptualized the app's utility in a tech conference speech he gave in Aspen, Colorado, in 1983. Jobs prophesied that app software would be downloaded over the internet like a digital record store.

Apps appeared in prototype form via the world's first PDAs in 1993.

And the modern app as we know them first appeared in July 2008 when the Apple Store first launched. So, as the app's functionality evolved from telephony to mobile gaming experiences, and then finally to digital era utility, the cost to develop them during each evolutionary phase increased relative to end function.

Developing an app can take years of research of development time.

It takes time to find the right app development team with the right skills, experiences, and creative drive to make a conceptualized app into a real one.

There are almost 9 million apps currently in use, and counting, throughout the world. So how will your app's functionalities differentiate itself from the 9 million others currently in existence?

The only way to better understand such a question and then answer it is to conduct a lot of research when developing your app. You may want to consult a basic app development calculator online.

So, let's break down a basic understanding of app development costs.

Do you need help developing an app? Contact Strides today.

Related: 9 of 10 Mobile Apps Fail: AVOID THESE PITFALLS!

Cost to Build an App

Let's look at some basic ballpark estimates of the cost to build mobile app software.

Generally speaking, you will pay anywhere between $40,000 to $250,000 to develop an app depending on its functionalities. So, for example, the most basic apps might cost $20,000 or $40 per hour to create.

For a basic average app, you may need over $90,000 to develop it.

An app of medium functionality that competes well globally could cost $160,000.

However, if your app is designed to compete and operate on a global level marketplace, you could require over $250,000 to $1 million to develop it.

Still, learning how to create an application is never a basic process. So, let's break those numbers down a little more.

Building Your App (In the United States)

The costs to create your app, relative to the country the app it is developed in, are not equal. Your app development costs will vary depending on the operational platform, like Android or iOS, and the time required to include various features.

Additionally, your app development costs will vary depending on whether you have the work done in the United States or outsource it to an international development team.

To make your app in the United States, you will probably pay developers about $150 per hour.

To make an app with fundamental functionalities will take anywhere between 500 work hours to 800 work hours to fully develop. And that could be a development period ranging between 3 months to 6 months.

An app featuring medium levels of functionality and complexity could take anywhere between 800 hours and 1,200 hours to develop fully. That is the equivalent of 5 months to 9 months of development time.

If you are building a complex app with many sophisticated functionalities, it will take much longer to complete; usually in the ballpark of around eight months to a year.

Now let's examine how much it costs to make an app in other parts of the world via outsourcing.

How to Make Your Own App Via Outsourcing

You can calculate your overall app development costs based on the country or region of the world you have it developed in.

Here is a breakdown of hourly rates that international developers could charge you to build a mobile app relative to the United States.  

The per-hour cost to create an app presented in this list represents estimates to build apps on both the Android and iOS platform, except in South America and India.

  • Australia - $92
  • Eastern European countries - $40
  • Indonesia - $35
  • North America - $175
  • United Kingdom - $71

An app developer may charge you $25 per hour for an app designed to operate on the iOS platform in India, and $26 per hour on the Android platform.

And in South America, an app developer may charge you $43 per hour for an app on iOS and $37 per hour for an app on Android.

Always remember that there are generalized cost estimates. Your costs will vary when you start developing your app in earnest.

Let's examine how much it costs to build your app based on the functionalities and interface options built into it and the time and labor required to do so.

Cost to Develop an App Based on Functionality

A tablet featuring a menu of apps next to an Apple computer and glass of water on a desk.

The cost of developing and creating apps could fluctuate during the trial-and-error stage of developing app functionalities. In addition, it takes time to assemble a development team to coordinate logistics and perfect UX design capabilities.

That takes time and money.

And the varied number of complexities that could be built in the app, and the development time it takes to fine-tune such features ultimately, could add to overall development costs.

Here is a checklist of various app functionalities, features, the time it could take to perfect such functionalities, and the estimated cost for completion.

The cost estimates for the following features are just ballpark estimations based on the previously established $40 per hour app development cost guideline.

Search Features

Developing an app with basic search features, and perhaps with search suggestion options, could take anywhere between 14 hours to 20 hours to complete. Thus, developing search features in an app could cost anywhere between $500 to $750.

File Uploading

A feature like file uploading allows the app to upload videos, photos, and other kinds of data to its installed device. The file upload feature in an app also allows for efficient photo viewing and video playback options.

To develop an app feature like this can take up to 30+ hours and can cost anywhere between $800 to $1,200.

Profile Completion Feature

The profile completion feature in an app sets the region of operational preference. It also adds data like photos and personal information that helps a user complete a user profile for the app.

It could take anywhere between a whole day to 30 hours to develop an essential profile completion feature on an app. The cost to pay for this development feature can cost anywhere between $900 to $1,200.

App Login Features

Developing an app with login features that allows you to log in from multiple social media accounts or a personal email can take anywhere between 30 hours to 48 hours.

App login features must include logout and forgotten password options as well. The development costs for such login app features could cost $1,100 to $1,700 to finalize.

Profile Editing Features

The profile editing feature in an app allows users to change passwords, change their email addresses, edit their profile data, or remove or add personal financial data like credit card information.

It could take anywhere between 48 hours to 65 hours to fully develop profile editing functionalities in an app, and the development costs could run anywhere between $1,900 and $2,500.

App Admin Panel and Payment Management Features

With the essential app admin panel feature, users can see and be apprised of their payments or request a refund for a previously approved payment.

It may take an app development worker or team a day or two to finalize this feature, and the development costs can run anywhere between $1,000 to $1,800.

Push Notification Features

Push notifications are spontaneous and autonomous messages of informative or marketing value that pop up on smart devices and computers.

Various websites and apps can enable push notifications to autonomously pop up on computer devices without the user's input.

However, push notification permission notices are becoming more common to include user input. As you are developing your app, enabling push notification permission notices instead of making them autonomous could endear your app to your user more.

It can take a development team 24 hours to 34 hours to fully develop push notification functions on your app, and that can cost you anywhere between $1,000 to $1,300.

User Admin Panel and User Management Features

The primary user management features in an app allow users to edit user data, see a complete list of users associated with the app, create user accounts, and delete or block users.

Your app development team could need 70 hours to 100 hours to perfect these features in your app, and it could cost you anywhere between $2,700 to $3,700.

Basic Messaging Features

The most basic and popular apps, including those featuring the most complicated app features, typically include essential messaging options.

Basic messaging features can include:

  • Storing conversation details
  • Sending or receiving data and files from other users
  • Enabling offline or online status.
  • Typing status.

It could take your development team 170 hours to 190 hours to fully develop the basic messaging features in your app. And the development costs for basic messaging features in your app won't come cheap.

It could cost you anywhere between $6,500 to $7,000 to finalize these app feature developments.

One of the most lucrative and popular features added to apps during the development process is in-app purchases and support features.

In-App Digital Purchases

The best way to recoup development costs after creating apps could be to add in-app purchasing features. Even though most free apps are very cheap, users who continue using the app will pay big money for in-app purchases.

By one estimate, global app users spend over $380 billion on in-app purchases annually.

Accordingly, app users are now accustomed to paying for in-app purchases with Google Wallet, PayPal, bank accounts, and credit card information.

If you develop your app to allow users to buy in-app purchases, your app will need robust cybersecurity protections installed.

Additionally, you will have to make sure that all in-app purchases and payment processing work without problems or glitches every time.

In-app payment functionality is a serious part of app development. However, you don't want to rush this aspect of the app development process or do it incorrectly.

Additionally, you will need the help of experienced developers and coders who know what they are doing. And the longer it takes to perfect this part of the process, the more money it will cost you.

It could take your team weeks or months to finalize this part of the app development process. As a result, you could pay anywhere between thousands to tens of thousands of dollars when completing the in-app payment and processing functionalities in your app.

It Takes Time to Calculate the Costs of Developing an App

An app development team looking over plans on a table.

The hard truth is that it will take you time to find out how much money it will cost to develop an app.

You and your development team are bound to encounter many trial-and-error twists and turns during the app development process.

The final price to develop your app prototype may cost a lot more than your pre-prototype estimates during the conceptualization stage.

If you need guidance calculating the developing costs of your app project, then contact Strides today.

Related: What does the app build process look like from beginning to end?

Austin Betzer
My only passion is helping others solve meaningful real-world problems. I will continue to do just that!

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