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What factors determine the cost of developing a mobile app in 2021?

When you are on the hunt to buy something, there is one question that will keep playing in the loop in the back of your mind. “How much does it cost?”

For most individuals and businesses, this is the first piece of information that they need before proceeding to study the product or service in detail. In fact, there are several interesting relationships between price and customer behaviors. One among them is the deemed relationship between high price and high quality and vice-versa. A high price sets higher expectations from the product or service. 

However, in modern times, customers have begun displaying the opposite trait as well. They expect maximum value and quality for the lowest price possible. Especially in the digital space where experiences matter more than tangible products, a high price does not sit well with customers. Hence, the need to give your product or service just the right price tag. 

When it comes to answering this often-asked question – “How much does it cost to build an app?”, there is no single answer. Each mobile app development company could have a different pricing strategy that can make its pricing entirely different from its competitors. Also, depending on the platform chosen for app development, the price could be high or low as well.

That said, the cost of developing a mobile app is dependent on several variable factors. Let’s discuss these factors in detail so that the next time you ask yourself this basic question, you are at least able to come to a ballpark figure. 

The factors that influence the cost of developing a mobile app

There are several factors that will determine the cost of developing a mobile app. These factors have their own costs and hence are capable of influencing the overall app development cost. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Choice of the platform

There are three major platforms in the world today that are opted for mobile app development — Android, iOS, and Windows. Cross-platform app development also draws much attention and interest from all over the world. 

The choice of mobile OS plays a major role in determining the cost of building the app. iOS apps tend to be the priciest of most due to two reasons. First, the majority of the US has Apple users. As a result, most of the mobile apps get released in the iOS version. Further, Apple has strong app security and quality standards which further inflates the cost of app development. 

Android may not necessarily be expensive, but sure can cost a bit for apps heavy on features. Apart from the US and UK, the rest of the world predominantly chooses Android. Android phones are comparatively lighter on budget compared to iPhones. Also, they offer a milieu of features that Apple does not offer, although the user experience is a matter of debate. 

Windows, being a minority mobile OS, does not garner much attention. The population of app developers who build dedicated Windows mobile apps is minuscule compared to iOS and Android. 

However, cross-platform app development is a real benefit for all those who want to build multiple apps on multiple platforms at the cost of one. Cross-platform app development offers what is known as code reuse which makes it easier to reuse the same code to create apps for multiple platforms like iOS, Android, and Windows.

Category of the app to be built

Another decisive factor that determines whether an app would be costly or affordable to build is its type or category. Mobile apps for enterprise usage, like CRM, phone system, helpdesk software, etc. might be pricey to develop compared to productivity apps. This is because they need additional integrations and APIs that take a lot of work to work together as one. 

Similarly, gaming apps that integrate Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality will cost a bit more than ordinary mobile apps. The costs include the algorithm development, hardware integration, and also testing efforts that come at a cost. 

App feature requirements

A good mobile app is like a Swiss army knife. It can do multiple things without any fuss. Phrased differently, is feature-rich. Users are keener to one app that does a lot of things effortlessly than downloading many apps that do only one thing at a time. The clutter of too many apps can be a turn-off and also make the system resources work harder. 

In present times, there are certain features that users expect in a mobile app by default. Additional features add to the cost of developing the app. For example, features like SSO sign-in, file or image uploading, integrated search, push notifications, video playback, admin-user management, etc. are all default features in most mobile apps.

Additional features that will enable the user to do much more with the app will make the app development process complicated. It will also consume additional manhours, the cost of which will have to be transferred to the app development costs.

Location of the development team

App development costs are not the same across the world. The costs vary significantly based on the location of the development team. It is common for the app development company to have the US or UK-based office. However, its operational and development team could be located anywhere else in the world to make the app development cost-effective.

For example, a US-based mobile app developer could be charging anywhere from $50 to $150, while developers in India could be charging as low as $25 onwards. This could translate into huge cost-savings when it comes to developing mobile apps that have several intricate features. 

Bringing it all together

The cost of developing a mobile app cannot be arrived at like the price tag of a retail product. It needs to be customized in a bespoke manner according to the requirements of the business. The choice of platform, category of the app, feature expectations, developer location, all play a vital role in developing and completing the app. 

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