In the rapidly evolving tech landscape of 2024, understanding the cost of developing an app is crucial for businesses and entrepreneurs. With the mobile app market continuously expanding, the demand for innovative apps is at an all-time high.
The cost of app development in 2024 is influenced by a myriad of factors, including the choice of platform, app complexity, design requirements, and developer rates. While the average app development cost can provide a baseline, each project's specific needs and goals will ultimately determine the final budget.
This article provides insight into the app development cost, focusing on various platforms and design aspects.
1. Overview of app development costs in 2024
The cost to develop an app in 2024 varies widely, primarily depending on the app's complexity, the chosen platform, developer Location and Expertise, and many more factors.
Overall, the cost breakdown by complexity will be:
- Simple Apps: With basic functionalities like a calculator or a timer, the development cost ranges from $20,000 to $40,000.
- Moderate Apps: Including apps with real-time chat, medium-level data processing, the cost ranges from $50,000 to $100,000.
- Complex Apps: Apps with advanced features like AI, complex backend, or custom animations can cost between $100,000 and $250,000 or more.
Some other factors contribute to the overall app development cost:
- Platform Choice: Choosing between iOS, Android, or cross-platform affects the cost. Cross-platform development can sometimes reduce costs by 30-40% compared to developing separate native apps. If you opt to convert (wrap) a web application/website into a native format (e.g., via Natively), then the expenses will be structured as a monthly subscription fee ranging about $30/month with a free option and trial.
- Design Complexity: The cost of designing an app can vary significantly. A basic design might cost as little as $5,000, while more sophisticated designs can exceed $20,000.
- Developer Location and Expertise: The geographic location and expertise level of the development team significantly impact the cost. Developers in North America and Western Europe typically charge higher rates compared to those in Eastern Europe or Asia.
The cost of app development has seen a steady increase over the years. In 2021, the average cost to make an app was approximately 20% lower than in 2024. This increase is attributed to several factors, including the rising demand for mobile apps, the complexity of new technologies, and the growing expectations for high-quality user experiences.
The cost to hire an app developer plays a substantial role in the total expense. In 2024, the average hourly rate for a skilled app developer ranges from $50 to $150, depending on their expertise and location. For a project taking 500 hours, this translates to a cost ranging from $25,000 to $75,000 just for development. This cost is a critical component of how much app development costs overall.
Below, we present solutions (factors) that are crucial in determining the cost of mobile application development.
2. Native, hybrid, and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
The differences between native, hybrid, and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) primarily lie in their development approach, performance, and user experience. The cost to create each type of app can vary significantly based on these factors.
- Definition: Native apps are developed specifically for one platform, either iOS or Android, using platform-specific programming languages like Swift for iOS or Kotlin/Java for Android.
- Performance: They offer the best performance and user experience as they are optimized for their respective platforms.
- Features: Native apps can fully access and utilize the device's hardware and software, such as the camera, microphone, GPS, etc.
- Development Cost: Generally, native app development is more expensive due to the need for separate codebases for each platform. The cost can range from $50,000 to $250,000 or more, depending on the app's complexity.
Native apps converted
- Definition: Converting a web app or website into a native mobile app involves creating a mobile application that encapsulates the web application or website, allowing it to function similarly to a native app on mobile devices. This process is also known as "wrapping."
Natively wraps (converts) your website/web app to the native mobile app by adding it to the WebView (an embeddable browser that a native application can use to display web content while a web app provides additional functionality and interactivity).
- Features: You can easily access mobile native features (such as push notifications, QR/bar code scanner, toast, banners, geolocation, camera, etc.) with our SDK & Plugins and continue updating your website without re-submitting it to AppStore/GooglePlay.
- How It Works: the framework allows web content to be wrapped within a native application shell, enabling the web app to access some native features of the device.
- User Experience: The resulting app provides a user experience closer to that of a native app compared to a standard mobile website or web app. This includes improved performance, offline capabilities, and access to device-specific functionalities like push notifications, camera, and GPS.
- Development Process: app creation process is fully automated and does not require developers' involvement. The web app's responsive design is crucial here, as it needs to adapt seamlessly to different screen sizes and orientations.
- Cost Factors: the service operates on a subscription model, the cost of which ranges from 0 to $49 / month or $384 annually depending on the number of platforms and functions.
- Performance: While they can't match the performance of native apps, recent advancements have significantly improved their speed and efficiency.
- Features: Hybrid apps have access to some of the device's native features, but this integration is not as seamless as in native apps.
- Development Cost: The cost to develop a hybrid app is generally lower than a native app since the same codebase can be used for multiple platforms. The cost can range from $30,000 to $150,000.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
- Definition: PWAs are essentially websites that use modern web technologies to allow for offline work, push notifications, and device hardware access, offering a native app-like experience on the web.
- Performance: They are less powerful than native apps but are an excellent choice for projects with limited budgets or the need for easy scalability.
- Features: PWAs can access some device features, but their capabilities are limited compared to native apps.
- Development Cost: PWAs are usually the most cost-effective option, with development costs ranging from $20,000 to $50,000.
3. Development cost for different app categories
The app development cost varies significantly across categories, such as e-commerce, social media, and gaming. While e-commerce and social media apps require substantial investment in backend infrastructure and user experience design, gaming apps demand high-end graphics and sound design.
E-commerce Apps Development Cost
- App Development Cost: Developing an e-commerce app can range from $40,000 to $150,000. This cost is influenced by factors like the complexity of the shopping cart, payment integration, and user interface design.
- iOS vs. Android: The iOS app development cost may be slightly higher due to Apple's stringent design guidelines. However, Android app development cost is comparable, especially if targeting emerging markets.
- Designing Cost: The cost of designing an e-commerce app, which includes a user-friendly interface and an engaging user experience, can account for 15-20% of the total development cost.
Social Media Apps
- Development Cost: Social media app development can cost between $50,000 and $250,000. This is due to the need for real-time data processing, robust backend infrastructure, and advanced features like live streaming.
- Hiring Developers: The cost to hire an app developer for a social media app can be higher, given the complexity of the technology stack involved. Hourly rates can range from $50 to $150.
- Mobile App Development Cost: Overall, the mobile app development cost for social media apps remains high due to ongoing maintenance and the need for regular updates to keep up with market trends.
- Average Development Cost: Gaming apps can be the most expensive, with costs ranging from $60,000 to over $300,000. This is due to the need for high-quality graphics, sound effects, and often complex game mechanics.
- Platform-Specific Costs: iOS app development costs for games can be higher due to the need for optimizing performance on different Apple devices. Android games might require more testing across various devices, impacting the overall cost.
- Design and Development: The cost of designing a gaming app is significant, often requiring specialized skills in graphic design and animation.
Health and Fitness Apps
- Development Cost: Ranges from $30,000 to $120,000. Key features influencing cost include activity tracking, diet planning, integration with wearables, and personalized coaching.
- Example: MyFitnessPal, a popular fitness tracking app, likely required significant investment in data integration and user interface design.
- iOS vs. Android Cost: The cost is comparable for both platforms, though iOS may require additional investment in HealthKit integration.
- Development Cost: Educational apps can cost between $20,000 and $100,000. Costs escalate with the inclusion of features like interactive content, video streaming, and in-app purchases for course enrollment.
- Example: Duolingo, a language learning app, incorporates gamification and interactive lessons, which add to development costs
- Designing Cost: A significant portion of the budget goes into creating an engaging and user-friendly interface, especially for younger users.
On-Demand Service Apps
- Development Cost: These apps range from $50,000 to $200,000. Key cost drivers include real-time tracking, payment integration, and a robust backend for handling service requests.
- Example: Uber, the ride-hailing service app, involves complex features like geolocation, fare calculation, and driver-passenger communication.
- Hiring Developers: Developers with expertise in real-time data processing and location-based services can increase the cost.
Travel and Tourism Apps
- Development Cost: Costs can range from $40,000 to $150,000, depending on features like booking systems, travel recommendations, and user reviews.
- Example: Airbnb, with its booking system, user profiles, and review mechanisms, falls into the higher end of this cost spectrum
- Mobile App Development Cost: Integrating various APIs for hotel bookings, flight reservations, and other travel services can add to the overall cost.
News and Magazine Apps
- Development Cost: Ranges from $20,000 to $80,000. Costs depend on content management systems, subscription models, and social sharing features
- Example: The New York Times app, offering personalized news feeds and subscription options, required significant investment in content management and user experience design.
- Platform-Specific Costs: The cost is generally similar across iOS and Android, but customizations for tablet versions can add to the expense.
4. Factors Influencing App Development Costs
The cost to develop an app is shaped by a multitude of factors, including the complexity of features, design choices, backend infrastructure, developer location, and security requirements.
While basic apps can be developed at a lower cost, adding advanced features, custom designs, and robust security can significantly increase the overall investment.
Feature Set and Functionality
- Basic Features: Apps with fundamental features like user registration, basic navigation, and simple user interfaces typically incur lower development costs. For instance, a basic informational app might cost around $20,000 to $40,000.
- Advanced Features: Incorporating complex functionalities such as real-time communication, advanced data analytics, or custom user interactions can significantly increase the app development cost. For example, an app with integrated AI or complex database interactions might range from $100,000 to $300,000.
Design and User Experience
- Custom Design: Opting for a custom design, which includes unique branding, tailored user experience, and sophisticated interfaces, can elevate the cost of designing an app. This approach might add 15-25% more to the overall budget compared to using standard designs.
- Templates: Utilizing pre-made templates is cost-effective but may limit uniqueness. This option can reduce the design costs by up to 30-40%, making it a viable choice for budget-conscious projects.
Backend Infrastructure and API Integration
- Server and Database: The complexity of the server and database architecture directly impacts the mobile app development cost. For a medium-complexity app, backend development might add $25,000 to $50,000 to the total cost.
- Third-Party Services: Integrating third-party APIs for payment processing, social media, or other services can increase the cost, depending on the complexity of the integration. Each integration might add an additional $2,000 to $5,000.
Region and Developer Rates
- Geographic Location: The cost to hire an app developer varies significantly by region. Developers in North America and Western Europe typically charge $100 to $150 per hour, while those in Eastern Europe or Asia might charge $30 to $50 per hour.
- Cost Variations: Consequently, the total app development cost can vary. For instance, a medium-complexity app might cost $50,000 in Eastern Europe but could be $150,000 in the U.S.
Security and Compliance
- Security Protocols: Implementing robust security measures, especially for apps handling sensitive data, is crucial but adds to the cost. Security features can increase the overall budget by 10-20%.
- Compliance: Adhering to legal and regulatory standards like GDPR for European users or HIPAA for health-related apps in the U.S. also incurs additional costs, both in development and ongoing compliance management.
The app development landscape in 2024 reflects a significant increase in costs compared to previous years, driven by the evolving demands of technology, the increasing complexity of apps, and higher expectations for user experience. This trend underscores the importance of careful planning and budget allocation in app development projects.
Whether it's for e-commerce, social media, gaming, or any other category, the cost of app development must be weighed against the potential return on investment and the value it brings to users. As the mobile app market continues to expand and evolve, understanding these cost dynamics is crucial for businesses and entrepreneurs looking to make a mark in the digital world.
For those looking to enter the app market in 2024, especially with budget and time constraints, using a service like Natively to convert a web application to a native mobile app presents a practical and efficient solution. It not only saves significant development time and costs but also leverages existing web assets to create a mobile presence, offering a strategic advantage in the rapidly evolving digital landscape.
Are you curious about the cost of developing your app? Find out instantly with an online calculator. It provides a ballpark figure for your project using the T&M model (man-hours) and even compares the expenses between traditional coding and a no-code approach.