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How Much Does It Cost To Develop An iPhone App?

Gavin Morrice

Written by Gavin Morrice on May 19th, 2013 13:13

We regularly receive emails and calls asking for quotes to build an iPhone or iPad app. The tricky part about providing preliminary quotes is that, without a lot more discussion, it's not easy to provide an accurate estimate. Building an app, or website is a lot like building a house. 

You can't answer a question like "how much will it cost to build a house?" until you know a lot more details about the house. How many bedrooms will it have? How many bathrooms? What kind of materials should it be built from? Who is the architect? Would you like a gas fireplace? Will the interior be mostly bespoke fittings or store bought? etc. 

Similarly, the number and types of features offered by your app, as well as how it looks and feels can make a huge difference in the cost and time required to develop it. 

We're happy to provide ballpark estimates based on the information prospective clients provide us. Although they're not exact, these estimates can give our customers a good idea of how much money they'll need to raise or set aside in order to develop their idea. 

If you're interested in developing an app, and would like to know more about how much it might cost, here are a few things to consider.

Hiring The Right Developer 

Hourly rates for software developers can vary quite a bit. From £200/day for a freelance developer, up to £800/day for a well-established development company with a large portfolio. Price is not always a reliable indicator of quality though. 

Cheaper developers are often inexperience. Although their quoted price might be lower than the competition, they may take longer to complete the job and be more likely to produce poor work that needs to be fixed or redone at a later date. Conversely, the most expensive companies may have very experienced, skilled developers but they're also likely to have overheads like inner-city office space, sales staff, a refigerator full of beer in their staff lounge. 

All of these overheads add to the cost of your app, without adding to the quality of service you receive. For the best value for money, look for developers with a proven track record and low overheads to develop your app.

What Kind Of App Are You Developing? 

Apps can be broken into four major groups, depending on the amount of work involved in developing them. 

Very simple apps

A simple app with only 3 or 4 screens and serves one basic function can range from £1,000, to £7,000. Simple apps don't store any data about your user or about the previous uses of the app. Some examples include: Simple Pomodoro Timer, Paleo Feed, App Starter

Database/API Apps

If your app requires information to be stored on the user's device or on a remote server then the infrastructure will be a bit more complex. If you want to allow users to save lists, register and sign in, or synch their data between multiple devices then you can expect to pay between £5,000 and £30,000. Some examples include: Elevatr, Day OneHeadspace.

Multi-featured/Enterprise Apps

The app is the core of your business. Users can access their information using your app on any device or web-browser. The app may offer several key features. The app's interface design is completely bespoke to offer an immersive experience. These apps can cost £30,000 and upwards. Some exampes include: Facebook, Evernote, BBC iPlayer

Games

The range in complexity of game apps is huge. From simple Pong to Iron Man. Games can range in price from £7,000 to £200,000.

Example Costs For Common Features

  • £300 to £1,000 - Social Media Integration - This would include allowing users to Tweet and post to Facebook from within the app, or sign in to your app using their Facebook account.
  • £1,000 to £3,000 - In App Purchases - Apple lets you charge users for additional downloads and services from within the app using In App Purchases.
  • £800 - Game Center - If you're developing a game and would like to register it with Apple's Game Center.

How Long Will It Take To Develop? 

Again, this question requires a lot more info to answer because of all of the variables. Simple apps can take as little as one week to complete. Large, and complex enterprise projects can take several months to a year. If speed to market is an important factor, you might want to consider looking for a larger development company who can assign more than one programmer at a time to work on your app. 

Additional Costs To Consider 

Aside from designing and buliding the app, there are other costs you should consider too. For example 

  • Testing- The price can vary depending on the size and complexity of the app. Testing is mostly an investment of time. The importance of testing cannot be understated though. If your app is buggy or difficult to use, it could cost a lot to put right and leave you with a bad reputation that's difficult to shake. 
  • $99 - iTunes Developer account. This is requried to launch an app in the App Store. 
  • £100/month - Servers and back-end support. If your app relies on a web server to store your user's data then you should expect to pay around £100/month for server support and maintenance. 
  • +25% - Native iPad Support. If your app should offer navtive support for iPad, as well as iPhone then this will require further design and development costs. 
  • £1,000 to £3,000 - Marketing.

Building a great app is pointless if nobody will ever find out about it. Marketing is an essential step when launching an app and you should keep it in mind when planning your budget. Developing an app can be a daunting process. There are lots of decisions to be made and each one can have a dramatic impact on the overall cost of the finished app and it's chances of success. Look for a developer who has experience in delivering great apps and get to know them. Make sure you're comfortable working with them and they're a good fit for your project. If you have an idea for an app, check out our free App Starter guide for advice on where to start.


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