How Much Does It Cost To Develop an App?



In the past several years, the mobile and web app market has exploded. In less than 9 months the Apple store reported over a billion downloads, and then doubled that number in half the time. The app craze has spread to Windows and every other mobile market available and will only grow in the coming years.

For the first time in history, thanks to the rise of the internet there exists the opportunity for one person, with enough vision to create products that can compete with billion dollar companies.

Many people ask me “How Much Does It Cost To Develop an App”? Well, we should start by having a good understanding of what you are getting into.

What is an app? How do you any them easily? How do you profit from an app? These questions can be answered in my eBook App Master.

An application (App) is software that is designed to do one thing well and it can run on your mobile device, your computer, your phone or any other electronic device.

The underlying factor in any successful mobile app or web application rests on the foundation of a idea. The reality is that the idea determines the ultimate potential of the execution. Do not be fooled, however. Ideas without solid execution have no value.


There are many different kinds of apps you can develop. This goes beyond the categories that many of the app marketplaces group the apps into – food, lifestyle, sports, etc. Most apps fall into one of these categories:

  • Static functionality $1,000-$4,000 – Normally, these apps are one that just displays information that never changes. Informational, eBook applications and things of this nature. These are the easiest to build and design and a good option for businesses or entrepreneurs who want a “simple” app that displays basic information. These types of apps HAVE to be engaging with a beautiful UI/UX design and a solid framework. These apps are also the lowest cost to build. There are additional costs if you want to GPS integration, Social media integration or extras like that.
  • Data driven $8,000-$75,000 – This is a very wide ranging category of app development. The database can reside on the device itself (native) or connect with a remote database (built into online web service) or simply connect database from sources such as outside sources (weather Apps) and present them to the user. An example would be having hundreds of horse breeds that you want to organize and display differently and you want the information searchable and dynamically displayed on the device. Development can get very complex depending on the dataset.
  • Game $10,000-$250,000 – These have the largest range of complexity, starting with something as simple as a simple Atari type functionality all the way up to a 3D physics engine that does flight simulation. Scoring points, different scenarios, game theories, statistics and tons of mathematics and incorporating the user experience through the physical movement of the device, and hooking into Game Center are all possible. The cost is going to come from creating the logic and math within the app and creating the usability and/or game play. These projects tend to be design heavy.
  • Custom Utility - These are apps that are geared towards allowing the user to input content in a special way. This can includedtaking native functions of the phone, such as the camera, alarm, or flash, and make it better for a specific purpose. Instagram is a great example; it connects to the native camera and applies filters to the photos.
  • Additional Options- There are also others things that would cause additional costs:
    • In-App Purchasing – $1,000-$3,000 – allows users to upgrade or buy extra items without leaving the screen, very popular in games such as “Farmville”.
    • Web Services – $1,000-$5,000 – adding external data sources residing on a server.
    • Game Center – $1,000 – Keeping track of scoring in games on Apple’s or Google’s servers.
    • Share Capabilities – $500-$1,500 – Allows users to post content to their respective social media accounts.


Total App Costs

The above numbers depend on a variety of factors: As the market increases in competition, you’ll see the cost come down, but just be wary of the 18 year old who can build you Tinder for $1,000 or the Indian outsourcer who can do it in a week for $500. Be careful hiring someone hourly with little or no oversight on the development process.

There are stories of people sending massive amounts of money overseas to never hear from the developers again. There are stories of people hiring programmers hourly and after spending $30,000 find out that, with no true oversight, nothing was truly done, but under US law they are required to pay the programmer for the time reported. Hiring a company in the U.S. is the least risky, in the long run it is less expensive, and you can ask for a guarantee clause in the agreement that the project MUST be delivered to be paid completely.

You can definitely find all-inclusive firms that will do everything for you for about $1,000, just be wary of the quality and how much control you will have over the process. Just like anything in web marketing, low costs means they have to make it up in volume and the client feels that the hardest. They normally spit out template type websites and give you little or no control over the design or look and feel, and your project will surely fail.

Download my eBook, like this page on Facebook, retweet this article, or link to me from your site. Please note that I get about 20 emails a day from people asking for advices on apps, so if I don’t get back to you immediately, please accept my apologies.

How to Create, Develop and market your app without writing a single line of code.

  • Develop an app from idea to marketplace
  • Marketing Best practices
  • Pros and Cons of Outsourcing
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