The Real Costs of Building a Mobile App for iOS and Android
Find out which type of app might be right for your business and learn about what goes into development.
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In a world that has grown increasingly dependent on mobile technology, you should consider having a customized mobile application for your business. In 2014, 60 percent of online traffic came from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. By 2016, that figure had reached 65 percent.
The increasing popularity of the smartphone has led to a high demand for mobile apps. The mobile app industry generated approximately $44.8 billion in 2016. By 2020, market analysts predict that the global mobile app market could hit $100 billion.
If you are planning to have a mobile app designed for your business, you should first consider development costs. Mobile app development is a multi-stage process. Each stage requires specialization, plus multiple tests to ensure quality and functionality. But if you could build a mobile app that successfully addresses the needs and wants of your market, your business could enjoy a windfall of profits.
Why does your business need a mobile app?
If your business has a mobile-responsive website, you are already ahead of 91 percent of everyone else. But if you add a mobile app, you could exponentially increase your lead over your closest competitors.
Here are a few advantages of having a mobile app for your business:
1. Improves accessibility
Today's mobile market spends approximately 200 minutes in apps. A mobile app makes it easier for them to access your business without needing to switch devices.
2. Enhances customer engagement
Convenience and ease of use are important qualities for ensuring customer experience. Mobile apps allow your customers to connect and engage with you in real time, which helps foster trust and stronger relationships.
3. Improves brand recognition
Having your brand situated on the interface of a smartphone or tablet will heighten brand recognition, considering how much time people spend on their mobile devices. Plus, it has been estimated that there will be 268 billion app downloads in 2017, and 68 percent of consumers report actually using the apps they download.
4. Improves value proposition
You can use a mobile app to give your customers discounts, usable information and support.
5. Presents another avenue for sales
The convenience and accessibility of a mobile app will encourage your customers to carry out transactions with your business rather than patronize a competitor who only has a website.
People spend 89 percent of their time using mobile apps rather than mobile websites. According to Arthur Iinuma of ISBX, "Mobile apps tend to get a more qualified and engaged audience, and therefore sales conversion rates are higher in comparison to an ecommerce website."
Types of business apps to consider
Businesses develop apps that cater to the needs of their market. Depending on your type of business, there are different apps you can consider:
1. Basic functionality: improves usability of mobile devices
2. Database-driven functionality: allows you to organize files and programs
3. Games: involve some of the most complicated processes in mobile app development
4. Enhancement or modification: designed to improve specific functions of your mobile device
5. Fully dynamic: data driven but dependent on external information
6. Custom utilities: allow you to format content in a specific way
It is very important that you have an idea of the type of app you want developed. It will help the process move faster and lower the risks of making mistakes or redesigns.
The process of developing an app
There are four stages involved in the development of an app:
1. Developing the idea: Once you've identified the type of app you need for your business, it is time to shift your focus to developing the concept behind the idea.
2. Functionality layout: This stage slowly brings your idea into a more tangible concept. Your software developer or architect will present wireframes to show how the app will function. You can give your inputs on how to make the app more usable to your market.
3. Design: This stage includes both the backend and frontend development phases. It involves management of users, server side logic, customization of user experience, data integration, caching of data, synchronization of data, UI design and development and various schedules for testing.
4. Going live: Once everything has been certified ready by your software development team, you can prepare to go live. For users of iOS, you should have the built-in Xcode installed so your app can be featured in the App Store.
Estimated costs of building a mobile app
Once you've determined the type of app you want to build and identified your target markets, it's time to choose your platform. There are two main platforms to choose from: Android or iOS.
What are the differences in building an app for Android vs. iOS?
iOS apps are cheaper and can be built quicker.
Android apps take two to three times longer to build than iOS apps.
iOS users, who own iPhones and iPads, tend to spend money more freely. This is why developers launch iOS-only apps before creating for Android. It gives them an idea of whether the app will be successful.
Your choice of platform may depend on the market you are targeting. While iOS is more popular in the U.S., Android has slowly gained ground and in fact leads in Asia, Africa and South America.
The next step is to assemble a mobile app development team, which will consist of the following:
Project manager: Oversees the entire development of the mobile app
UI/UX designer: Tasked with the app's habitus and the impressions of the user
Coder: Oversees the app's hidden structure
QA Engineer: Oversees all testing protocols
The cost of this team depends on the complexity of the app. Simple apps take approximately 10 weeks to build, with design accounting for up to 90 hours and backend development up to 800 hours.
Complex apps take around 28 weeks to build. Design would need approximately 370 hours and backend development up to 2,200 hours.
For Android apps, cost ranges as follows:
Elementary apps: $25,000 to $35,000
Standard apps: $45,000 to $55,000
Complex apps: $55,000 to $100,000
High-tech apps: $75,000 to $150,000
Estimated costs for iOS apps (for Apple devices) are as follows:
Simple, table-based apps: $1,000 to $4,000
Database apps: $8,000 to $50,000
Games: $10,000 to $250,000
The following are some other costs to consider for building your app:
In-app purchase capability: $1,000 to $3,000; allows users to buy new content or full versions of the app
Web services: $1,000 to $5,000; take the content to a remote access point so you can update your app with XML files instead of changes to the raw code
Game center: $1,000; Apple's way of integrating your app with the SDK
Share capabilities: $500 to $1,500; allow content sharing via social media and email
SDKs: $50 to $200; SDKs help you track your app and find ways to monetize. Examples include Google Analytics, Chartboost and Tapjoy.
A mobile app is a great way to help your business gain more traction and better brand recognition. But it could entail quite an investment. While the timing of the release is important, you should not rush through the development stages. The cost of building the mobile app will hardly matter in the long run if it takes off and gains a large market of users.