How Much Will my Mobile App Cost to Create?
What will my mobile app cost me or my company?
This must be one of the toughest questions in the hottest IT market right now; mobile application development. I field this question every single working day and many weekends as well. As you can imagine there are a multitude of factors that have to be considered when looking at developing an iPhone, iPad, or Android application.
Have a Project Scope
The most important factor in answering this question is simply thinking the project scope out thoroughly. I’ve seen individual entrepreneurs and large companies rush into a mobile project without properly scoping out every important angle in the proposed project.
But What if I don’t have a Project Scope?
Generally there are two approaches to this scenario:
- I have no idea what this will cost, so let’s build a scope of work and find out what vendors will charge.
- I have a set budget of XYZ, here is my scope of work, can this project be accomplished within my budget?
If you have no idea of a budget to begin with, don’t panic. Start with generating a solid scope of work and send it out to several vendors (at least three) to see what kind of budgetary feedback they give you. But be careful to cover yourself with a Non-Disclosure Agreement and make sure that you are comparing like vendors. (See our page on who owns my idea)
Know the Vendors You’re Talking To
Many vendors use freelance or outsourced talent, make sure you ask them if the project management, design and programming resources are in house or not. You should also ask if you will be able to communicate directly with everyone on the team via phone or email. While you may save money going with firms that use freelancers or outsource projects overseas, you have to look at the opportunity cost and how much longer your project will take in development.
Getting in a Range of Bids
You will likely receive a wide range of bids, typically the range can vary (from high to low) by tens of thousands of dollars. Again don’t panic, there will be reasons for this, not all of them will be logical, but some factors include overhead, market served, technical scope of project and design requirements.
Two Main Types of Mobile Apps
Generally speaking there are two main types of mobile applications, static and dynamic. A static app is normally just informational, with the entire app residing on the mobile device. There is no automatic updating of fresh content unless the developer submits an update. A dynamic app contains information that can be continuously updated via RSS or web services feeds via Wi-Fi or cellular phone service.
So what does all this mean for my budget?
Simple, static apps typically fall in a price range of $8,000.00 – $20,000.00 (per platform) depending on the amount of information that has to be displayed in the app. Dynamic apps generally average from $12,000.00 – $30,000.00 (per platform) depending on the complexity, though as you add in more features and functionality, the cost will typically increase as well.
We have worked on many dynamic apps that have to be deployed on multiple platforms (iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Mobile Web) in which case the cost can easily go above six figures.
How can I Keep the Budget Down?
Many companies can shave the budget cost down by leveraging in house talent to lend a hand in the project. We encourage our clients to leverage such talent in areas of wire-frames, design and writing web services scripts.
Be Careful when going with the Lowest Bid Out There
You can get lower quotes by going with small outfits or freelancers who are hungry to prove themselves. Just make sure to check references and keep in mind that most freelancers have other jobs so you are not the most important client that they have. Also, companies that outsource work overseas have to bridge a cultural and time gap in development, which can lead to longer project timelines and higher frustration for your project managers.
At the end of the day any good outfit will give you a proposal that is presented a’la carte, meaning you can pick and choose what features you want in for your final project specifications. As always feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.
Be on the lookout for my next post on Features you can Incorporate to a Mobile App and how Complex they are to do.
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