What Should It Cost to Develop an App?
Came across an interesting article about the costs of developing an iPhone app. The author did a decent job of breaking down the options available when you need an app for your business – online tools, off shoring, and hiring a local developer.
Bottom line is the old adage continues to be true: you get what you pay for.
iPhone Application Development Average Cost
One of the most common questions in iPhone app development is how much does it cost? It’s a good question. Of course, everybody wants fabulous quality with almost no cost, but we have to be realistic. The bottom line is you get what you pay for. Lets take the example of changing the oil in your car. You have a few options:
1. Get your teenager to do it.
2. Get the guy down the street to do it.
3. Take it to a reputable garage.
If you go with the cheapest option, you might end up having to redo it and a lot of your time will have been wasted. Worst case, your engine will seize for lack of oil. With iPhone and iPad app development, you have the same options.
No Code App Creation Tools
One choice is to use a “no code” tool that creates your app according to preset rules. I’ve looked into these from time-to-time and found that they were hard to use and weren’t flexible in functionality and look-and-feel. If your app isn’t an important part of your strategy or if you don’t mind not having complete control, this might be fine; however, if you want a more serious app, developing with the tools Apple provides is best and the way most people do it.
Here are the criteria for hiring development resources (agency or individual):
1. Have they developed iPhone apps before and can they prove it?
2. Do you trust them?
3. Do they have a track record for quality and on-time delivery?
Bonus: Do the programmers have a degree in computer science?
Offshoring is a good option, but unless you already know someone that you trust and meets the above criteria, you are not going to know who is good and who is not. It’s very important to have clear expectations, detailed design documents, and excellent communications while keeping in mind that the standards for workmanship are not as high in other parts of the world. The savings can be substantial, but this may be offset by the amount of time you spend making up for communication and cultural differences. I find that projects are more likely to be delivered late and that we spend a lot of time reporting and tracking bugs.
Hiring offshore is a lot like dating. There is a lot of searching and you can have a lot of first dates, but it takes time to find a trusted resource that will do the job. If you have a high volume of work over a long period of time, finding and retaining an offshore team can be worthwhile.
I once hired a programmer in Moscow who purported to have all the skills I needed with many examples of work and clients. I started by giving him a chunk of the project. He blew by the deadline and when I pressed him for his output, he admitted that he didn’t have the skills. In the end, he didn’t charge me but it was a waste of my time and the failure pushed all the timelines back. Although local may seem more expensive, when you consider the cost of your time and the quality of the work, local can be more cost effective.
Western developers can cost anywhere from $75 to $250 per hour, depending on their experience and brand name. Mobile developers have been in short supply for some time now. Going with an app development company pushes the upper end of that scale, but it’s a one stop shop that handles the project from end-to end.
Sample Project Costs
Here are some price ranges for iPhone application development projects:
Simple Apps: $4,000 – $10,000 – Tech Crunch did a survey of 124 developers whose development cost averaged $6,453. They said if they counted all the personal time invested by the owner, this figure would be five to ten times.
Moderate Complexity Apps: $50,000 – $150,000 – The official Barack Obama app reportedly took 22 days to develop, ten people (not all full time) with rates varying from $100 – $150 per hour. Figure $50,000 – $150,000.
Complex Apps: $150,000 plus – If your app calls for a lot of bells and whistles or new technology that hasn’t been done before, it could cost a lot. In this way, it can cost as much as any other type of application (desktop, enterprise, or supply chain).
Don’t forget upfront research, legal issues (your app needs a name that doesn’t violate another’s trademark), and marketing and advertising costs for the app (to name a few). The bottom line is you get what you pay for.