How much does an app cost?

Anywhere from $5,000 — $250,000 depending on the functionality

I get asked by friends “I have an app idea, how much does it cost to make an app?”

The short answer is “it depends” but that answer doesn’t help anyone, so lets get specific.

Building an app is hard. Let’s get that out of the way. Knowing how much it will cost to build an app is hard too.

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‘Simple apps’ are hard too.

I have collected a lot of different articles and view points and tried to synthesis them all to give you some concrete numbers to answer how much an app should cost. These are just estimates and your particular app might fall wildly outside of these estimates.

TLDR:

  • Developers are expensive. They know how to do something that is hard to do, and so they can charge a lot.
  • The costs of apps are largely based on features, complexity, and platform.
  • Apps with back-end servers will always cost more.
  • Simple apps for one platform will start around $25,000.
  • More complex apps cost six figures but can push up over $1,000,000.
  • Costs will also vary based on who builds it (e.g., offshore versus high-end agency).
  • Don’t forget to budget for updates, marketing, your own salary, and other costs.
  • Good, Cheap, or Fast. Pick 2. Sometimes pick 1.

There are a few ways to build an app. The cost of each varies widely.

  1. Build it yourself. Free but takes a long time
  2. Hire a freelancer to build it for you. Cheaper but can have serious issues.
  3. Hire an app development company. More expensive.

Let’s quickly cover each of these.

DIY (Learn to Program) 💵⏰

$200, but lots of time.

Outside the scope of this article. I will be writing an article about learning to program later, follow me on Medium if you are interested in that.

But you really can buy a Udemy course for $99, and have a simple app that you could submit to the App Store (might will get rejected) at the end. Buy your Apple Dev membership for $99, and you could be in the App Store for $200 dollars and a lot of hours.

Freelance 💵💵😡

$5,000–$20,000 and higher

Hiring a freelance developer can cost anywhere from 40 and hour to 100 and hour. More if they are super good, famous, or busy. You can look up Upwork for hourly rates and you will find them in that range.

$100 an hour is very reasonable for a developer. 100 x 40 hours = $4,000 for a week of work. An app is probably going to take a month. So $16,000 for a month of work.

If you are not their only client, that time can stretch to a few months.

You can get foreign team to build you an app for $5,000 — $10,000 but $10,000 is the minimum to work with a good team. Working with a foreign team means there will be communication issues, code issues, quality issues etc. but it can be done.

App Dev Shop 💵💵💵🤑

Professionals but expensive.

Professionals are expensive for a reason. They test things, they communicate well, they are high quality. You can still get a bad dev shop and a bad experience but there are lots of great shops out there.

There are different levels of apps. This article breaks them down nicely, also in the references section. Taking what they had and adding to it:

Simple apps $25,000-$35,000

  1. basic functionality
  2. elementary integrated API(s)
  3. plain UI/UX
  4. item list(s)
  5. simple search.

Medium apps $45,000-$55,000

  1. Custom UI/UX elements
  2. tablets support
  3. payment services integration’
  4. social media integration
  5. map search

High complexity apps $55,000-$100,000

  1. audio/video processing
  2. real-time synchronization
  3. custom animations
  4. integrations with third-party services
  5. complex backend with several types of databases
  6. offline data cache, etc.

Innovative apps (something you have never seen before) $50,000-$150,000 and up

  1. High tech components
  2. integrate with hardware
  3. custom elements
  4. heavy server needs

Startup level $140,000-$210,000

The estimated costs are $35,000 per month for a team of four, which I would consider a very standard team size for building an app. The timeline to build a v1.0 app is usually anywhere between 4–6 months. So taking that monthly spend and multiplying it times that timeline, we have our first answer: a v1.0 app should cost anywhere between $140,000 to $210,000.

Have any questions? Think I missed something? Comment below.

More resources:

Written by

Code, design, cook. Make stuff. Cookies. @BYU grad.

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