Everyone seems to want to build a Mobile App based on a great idea or to extend their business reach and the first question usually asked concerning iPhone App development cost is “How much does it cost to build an iPhone app?” A better question might be “How much Does it Cost to build MY IDEA into an iPhone App?…Your requirements are unique and therefore your costs will be as well.
Another way to frame this would be “Based on what I need to spend, what is my timeline and potential for profit?” In other words, how quickly can your costs be recovered and turned into a profit.
iPhone Mobile Apps … Elements of Cost
- Hourly rates; Vary from around $40 up to $120. Theoretically, the higher hourly rates get you more qualified development talent and therefore use fewer hours and create better results (but not always).
- Project costs; Simple mobile apps can start at around $3000, but with the lower price tag comes less functionality and a greater potential for low quality of work. Larger, more complicated and more configurable iPhone apps can easily cost $25,000 or $30,000 (or more) depending on the specifics.
- Developers Location; Cost of living does play into the amount a developer will charge for their services. The seemingly small difference of location may end up costing you an additional $20 – $30 an hour (for the same level of skills).
- Going Offshore; Everyone knows offshore development rates are cheaper than U.S. hourly rates, but there is also a higher rate of client dissatisfaction. Communication, working hours and cultural differences can be challenges which are difficult (or impossible) to overcome.
- Do it yourself: There are several free (or cheap) tools to automate the process of building an iPhone app. This is not a route for someone looking for high quality and the results usually reflect a “Do it Yourself” project).
- Availability of developers; Talented iPhone app developers will tend to gravitate toward larger, more profitable, and/or longer term mobile app projects. Smaller software development projects tend to be more difficult (because of limited budget and shorter timeline). Many times these smaller projects end up with app developers who are: less qualified, attempting to learn on the job, or are using shortcuts to get work complete.
- Development time; Anywhere from a couple of weeks for something simple, all the way up to several months depending on complexity (and developer availability).
- Getting quotes/reviewing portfolios; The only sure way to find out “What it costs to build an iPhone App?” is to get a few quotes. Be aware that you are not shopping for the same product at a different store. What one app developer produces will be totally different than another developer. Comparing portfolios of potential vendors is one method to determine the quality of a particular App Development Company. Ask to review examples of their work that have specifically been produced within your budget.
The revenue generated by some iPhone Mobile Apps is impressive. But not all Apps actually recover the initial cost of the required software development. Like writing a book, it’s not about finding a publisher, it is about attracting the people who might want to read your book.
iPhone App Development Cost Questions and Concepts.
- Is your concept new? Or is it at least better than what is currently available? Do you have a solid existing customer base?
- How will you market your app? Initial development costs are only part of the picture, now you need to attract users (and create positive word of mouth to help your app go “viral”). If that is to happen you need a solid marketing strategy.
- How will you monetize your app? Once you have your user base, how will you make a profit? Selling the App, Advertising, In App Purchases, Mobile Commerce, or something totally different.
- The App Store keeps 30% of your revenues. That is Apple’s fee, plus you need to account for processing costs and taxes (if applicable).
I suggest you determine the amount of money that you can invest in your app and then discuss your project and objectives with a well qualified developer. You will see that the cost question evolves into determining what features are realistic to build within your given budget.
I’d be happy to discuss your mobile app development project and marketing strategy with you. I can also refer you to a qualified developer that can work around your budget and time frame. Feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Here’s a video update I put together on iPhone App development Costs in April 2014:
Start Video Transcription
Hi this is Brett Miller from Custom Software by Preston and as you can see today, I wear what I would like to refer to as my money shirt.
See how it looks like a hundred dollar bill isn’t it? So based on that, I would jump into the topic of iPhone Development costs. I know that’s a big curiosity for a lot of the potential clients we talk to so I’m happy to share my expertise in the hopes of educating and giving you a feel of what you’re looking at as you consider embarking on your mobile application development initiative.
So I would say generally, there’s a bell curve associated with and what I mean by that is most of the prices fall within a relatively tight range because you know in general, people will visualize their app and they’ll come into some type of list of requirements that generally fall within a tight range. On a larger range, look at it and consider all the projects we’ve done and I’ll the projects I’ve heard over the years.
Generally, I would say the lower end is $4,000 and the upper hand is probably $50,000 now, that’s the full bowl as I see it. The tighter range, most of the apps that I hear about , that we work on, generally fall between I would say approximately $16,000 to $24,000 and these you know, they have a good amount of functionality and they do some kind of great stuff and I’m gonna break down those costs to you so you can understand how we determine pricing and what are the different factors that make that up.
It is really interesting in our market, there are so many development shops that price things different than you. You gotta understand, it’s not a commodity which you get from one offered development studio will be totally different from what you get from another and their pricing can be totally different as well.
So you know, you take the same application and one company will work quarter to then thousand while another will get sixty thousand, and that has to do with their location, their skill set, their mark up, what their portfolio represents, you know how much demand they have, you know if they have a tremendous demand, if they finish high up in the search engine rankings they can ask for more because they have a lot more of opportunities.
So just be aware, sometimes it’s not even about your product but the demand that this company particularly has a fortune having at that particular moment.
So let me start to break down some costs here, to help give you a feel, now there’s another topic that’s interesting. Now, what are you looking for? Do you want cost-effective or do you want something that’s really high quality like a Porsche and the way you go about development is different in those scenarios, what aspects of the application you highlight, what focus and the whole general process, you know if you want something high end you have to expect to pay more so you know let me break down the different aspects of where I see the work are being located.
So the first thing we do when we work with the client is we look for them to hand over a full set of requirements and the more documentation, the better, the more specific, the better. This demonstrates that they are a sophisticated client and they’re serious about moving forward potentially with us and you know we have to take a look at what they have and see how much work is going to be required to fully grasp and understand and discuss the various nuances that might exist within that application.
So our first phase of the project is to do the analysis and thoroughly identify and document what we are building here on a technical basis. We might put together used cases, a new story, technical requirements, things like that.So that’s one phase of work as I see it, then the next phase is design.
Now again, this ties with when you’re looking for a Porsche or are you looking for something cost effective and how specific are you in reaching your vision as far as are you going to require the developers to you know create more and more versions and you know very minute modifications to try to reach the state of perfection.
Well each one of those renditions is gonna end up costing additional money so you have to know how specific you are is gonna drive some of the costs related to creating different versions and better UI and design aspects. Generally, we like to lock down it to two versions of modifying UI, beyond that we have started talking about additional costs associated beyond what we might actually quote for a project just because we don’t know how specific a potential client is going to be.
Now, the next subject as we see it is the actual data and where is the data coming from? Is it shared or stand-alone. Now if it’s stand-alone and it’s gonna exist in that particular device, it’s relatively easy to work with but if we have a scenario where we’re pulling the stated dynamically from the internet or there are some type of backend administration panel that we have to develop to allow an administrator to go in modifying dropdown values and use different potential routes through the system.
You can figure in those types of scenarios when there’s an API we have to call or where there’s an administration panel that could end up costing 20, 30, 40 percent more than what you know the stand-alone component stand-alone application might cost, so there’s that aspect then you get her to get into the monetization model.
How are you earning money by building this application, if you’re looking for in app purchases, if you’re looking for subscription based application building those components. You know something like that might cost like a grand in itself just to build those properly depending on what you know they’re getting, when they do you know unlock the in app purchases or when they do upgrade to a different version or whatever it is.
There’s some additional work that might be there. We generally talked about so far, you know, an iOS app is that for iPhone or for iPad so those are different form factors. For iPad, you want to ideally redesign your screen to better utilize the screen space that is available.
So if you’re looking for your application or improperly in both environments, you probably need to prepare for another 40 percent more to make sure it’s optimized for those additional devices and you know there’s also the question of you know legacy devices which are iPhone 4, you know 4G in prior result for us.
I don’t know, one of those do, but anyways, devices prior to iPhone 5, had a different screen resolution and different screen measurement so you know we have to create a custom version for that so that’s another interesting question that needs to be addressed. So you know those are some of the aspects in to get into a few more you know if you’re looking for sharing in Facebook or Twitter and need the social services you know, that in it of itself be between five and fifteen hundred dollars you know depending on specifically how this is working with the capabilities are.
And then just generally, I think you can take a look and consider the number of screens you have to help you know correlate with the price so I would say on a simple application on a lower end to that cost spectrum that I presented. If you have three or four screens and they are not hanging with any data dynamically, you know that’s not going to be on the simple side like four, five, six thousand.
Once you start talking about 10, 15, 20 screens that you know do some complicated stuff and need to be administered and they tied into various services on the internet to pull data dynamically in their shared information then you start pumping the price for sure into the higher ranges that we’ve talked about.
But you know it’s really difficult for me to sit here and say what exactly is your application going to cost given that we’ve never actually spoken and then the only other aspect that I can think off my head that affects price will be you know, how much are you utilizing things like GPS and maps , are you utilizing the camera, phonebook, you know the gyrometer.
Well each one of those things might be $1,000 or $2,000 or more to build the functionality that you need related to that specific capability. So it’s certainly a complicated topic and there are so many aspects that add into it. And also you know, like we talked about, look into that specific development studio and what their capability is, is an availability their desire to get involved in the project at a current time and this is only the start talking about the business, the productivity style apps.
I mean when we start getting into games, you know 3D games and you know games that are very playable and have action. You know all these different aspects you know the pricing, and you know we personally don’t actually build those types of app but those can be a hundred thousand or two hundred thousand, three hundred thousand dollars easily.
I think a lot of people have the tendency to underestimate the costly effort involved in something that complicated so I appreciate you taking the time to listen to my thoughts and how you determine pricing on one of the aspects as the organization that you really push to help clients be as cost effective as possible is around this minimal viable product.
What are the specific features that your users that your users must have in order to do with the specific tasks that are specifically designed for and you wanna be careful about that because you don’t want to remove something that users are going to rethink your application poorly because it’s missing but on the other hand you don’t wanna build something functional that they’re not even going to use.
So you know, that’s just something that we work with our clientele on and try to you know guide them in the most powerful effective decision making possible but I would be happy to speak to you directly and talk about your project and see how we might be able to assist you. I think I could probably give you a better quote if I could actually hear you because so far you have been very quiet throughout this whole discussion but happy to help you.
Feel free to reach out, my name is Brett Miller, Custom Software by Preston and we’d be very interested in hearing more about your project giving the specific quote but good luck on putting together all the requirements and building it if you decide to move forward.
Thank you very much and I look forward to hearing from you.
End Video Transcription