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 240×320), 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
Posted in Uncategorized
16 comments on “How much does it cost to develop a mobile app on iPhone, Android and other platforms?
  1. ethan campbell says:

    is the price 15-25.000 euro OR 15-25 thousand euro ?

  2. Deepak says:

    I still don’t get it. Is the price 15-25.000 euro OR 15-25 thousand euro? Are those decimal points meant to be commas? Also, please provide a breakup. I can’t believe a simple app would cost so much especially since Xcode and Interface Builder construct most of the app for you, leaving you to only input the core functionality. Where did you get these numbers from?

  3. Hi, sorry for late reply.

    In Europe we use periods as a thousand marker and commas as decimal marks, hence I understand it’s a bit misleading to you.

    The costs are accurate and based on the hundreds of apps we develop every year. It’s true iOS provides a great SDK for developing good looking apps at a low cost, but only as long as you stay withing the boundaries of the SDK. For more advanced development you need a totally different skill set, hence the increase in cost.

    Kind regards,
    Jimmy Nordbeck
    Marketing Director, Golden Gekko

    • Alejandra says:

      I love my droid I have the thunderbolt and love it I had an iphone and I just hated it. iphones are nice for what they do but I think the androids have more potential they would have more potential if all the apps worked with every android but im kinda rambling OH and I love swype it changed my life

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  10. Good read.mobile applications based on IOS and Android are in great demand. Businesses are finding ways to reach their audience via a mobile application.
    Of course it is very important to have an efficient mobile application which calls for due care and proper testing before launching.

  11. Magnus says:

    Great article by ivisionmobile. Please note however that some of the 400.000+ apps on the Apple appstore are built using tools such as Tino Mobile, Mobile Rhodie, etc that does not require any development skills and allows one person to publish several apps per day. Therefore the average cost is probably slightly lower. Having said this there are also apps that costs a lot more. Top games may have budgets of 1m+ USD and companies such as Facebook, Google, eBay, etc invest millions into their apps.

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