Tuesday, 7 September 2010

How much does it cost to develop a mobile app on iPhone, Android and other platforms?

The most frequently asked question we hear about mobile app development is: "How much does it cost to develop a mobile app?"

The easiest way to answer will be with a counterquestion such as "How much does it cost to develop a website?" But this clearly is not very helpful. Although it is a difficult question to respond to we will make an attempt to give our clients and partners the answer they are entitled to.

The budgets quoted here are based on the costs of outsourced development. Our experience and feedback from clients is that this is almost always cheaper than in-house development when taking into account total costs of internal resources including specification, wireframes, design, planning, development, several delivery iterations and quality assurance.

1. Developing an app for iPhone only

iPhone is the easiest platform to develop for to start with. The UI is well defined, the development tools are great for creating apps with basic content and web feeds and the more advanced functionalities are well documented. More advanced iPhone apps with back-end integration, non-standard animations and apps with a lot of media handling require completely different development skills and therefore developers with many years of programming experience.

Budget for:
  • Simple apps: 10-20.000 euro
  • Average cost of branded apps: 30.000 euro
  • Advanced apps 60.000+ euro
The costs of iPad apps are currently slightly higher as they require even more finishing work on the UI.

2. Developing an app for Android only

Developing good looking Android apps is considerably more difficult than iPhone apps. The main reason is that the SDK provides less default UI components which means that you can basically make the apps look however you want (more about this in a separate blog). In addition to this, Android is more designed for developers with several years of experience in programming Java, whereas iPhone requires very little to start with. For more advanced apps and games the complexity is the same or you might actually consider Android to be purer. Furthermore there are differences in the development language. Android has more fragmentation as there are currently 10 handset manufacturers with over 80 devices that use Android in comparison to only one for iPhone. There are also 4 different screen resolutions (starting at 240x320), more input mechanisms (e.g. Qwerty keyboards) and multiple OS versions that need to be supported. Therefore the QA period is usually about 1-2 weeks longer for Android and more resource intensive.

Budget for:
  • Simple apps: 15-25.000 euro
  • Average cost of branded apps: 40.000 euro
  • Advanced apps 60.000+ euro

3. Developing for Blackberry only

The complexity and cost of developing for Blackberry are similar to Android. Some of the challenges to face are the many OS versions currently running, the range of screen resolutions and the requirement to cover both touch screen and Qwerty keyboards.

Budget for:
  • Simple apps: 15-25.000 euro
  • Average cost of branded apps: 40.000 euro
  • Advanced apps 60.000+ euro

4. Cross platform development for iPhone and Android

With normal coding standards there is very little synergy between Android and iPhone development and few developers that can develop for both in a proficient manner. This means that most of the time the costs are the same for the second platform as for the first platform, excluding functional specification. Even the user flows and designs are different since Android uses the menu key and back button differently and supports multitasking on all devices.

There are various different ways to reduce the cost of cross platform development (see our blog next week on this subject). During the last couple of years Golden Gekko has taken on this challenge and tried all methods. We have finally developed our own framework for more efficient development of native apps for each platform. This currently reduces the average cost by more than 30% for the second platform but the goal is to fall below 50% in the long term and at the same time vastly reduce ongoing maintenance costs. In some cases we were already able to do so by compromising on user experience and functionality.

Budget for:
  • Simple apps: 20-37.000 euro
  • Average apps: 58.000 euro
  • Advanced apps: 100.000+ euro

5. Other platforms

  • WebOS (Palm) and other Web Runtime platforms (JIL, Opera, OVI, etc) – Budgets are similar to iPhone development to cover one platform and comparable to Android to launch web based apps on multiple platforms
  • Windows Mobile – Budgets are similar to iPhone to support one OS version (e.g. 6.5) as Microsoft provides great development tools and closer to Android for multiple OS versions
  • Symbian – The 2nd most complex platform for development due to lack of skilled developers, slightly out of date SDK and complexity of e.g. memory management . This means that the budgets are currently 30% higher than e.g. Android
  • Java ME – Budgets are similar to Android with the platforms used by Golden Gekko but with higher QA cost depending on the number of target devices for each market
  • Meego/Qt – Too early to tell but we believe budgets will be similar to Android
  • Samsung Bada – The most complex platform to develop for due to lack of maturity of the SDK. We currently recommend using Java ME on Samsung Bada phones
Update version:


arshad said...

Hi its really very nice blog,very useful information..Mobiles

adeel said...

android is very effective mobile company i like to use its mobile and it works nicely on every platform ... no compare is with it ....

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developing mobile apps said...

I like this summary. I would like to come again your blog. Thanks.

prajosh said...


really a great stuff.

btw can u tell how much is the average cost for creating a mobile version of a website not an application


Mobile Application Development said...

It has now enabled businesses to get apps develop that are innovative, interesting and strike a chord with its customers.

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Julia Henkel said...

Hi Prajosh!

please read the following blog on how much it costs to develop a mobile site:

If you have a concrete inquiry please contact Golden Gekko and we can prepare you a non- binding offer: sales@goldengekko.com

Brett Miller said...

I would strongly advice to focus on either the Android or iPhone platform (don't worry about the others).

You should also have a very solid relationship with the developer who will be working on your project.

If you don't know anyone, I would be happy to introduce you to some talented developers.


Anonymous said...

Hi. Is it 30 Euro or 30 thousand Euro?

mlee3680 said...

Nice post. Here’s a tool to use to build your mobile apps in minutes without coding. Just point-and-click http://www.caspio.com/online-database/features/mobile.aspx

rize wordpress said...

Our Android Apps Development comes to you cost effectively with assurance for quality and performance

mobile app development faqs said...

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