Figuring the costs of custom mobile business app development
How much are custom mobile business apps going to cost you? Here are some estimates, analyses and offers we’ve found that should help set some reasonable expectations.
General app development costs
This post is primarily about apps for for mobilizing business processes, but if you are interested in the more general topic of app development costs here are some pointers:
Business app development costs
Update: A November 2014 Kinvey report based on a survey of CIOs and Mobile Leaders found that mobile application development is “costly, slow and frustrating.” According to this survey:
56 percent of mobile leaders surveyed say it takes from 7 months to more than one year to build one app. 18 percent say they spend from $500,000 to over $1,000,000 per app, with an average of $270,000 per app.
Source: Kinvey Survey
A survey of IT professionals conducted in 2013 by AnyPresence, a backend-as-a-service company, asked about the initial cost of developing a typical mobile application. Over half reported spending more than three months and over $50,000 developing a typical app. Very nearly a quarter reported spending over $100,000.
App development company Propelics specializes in iPad apps and posted a very informative blog post in December 2011 with a breakdown of iPad app development costs. This is recommended reading on the difference between consumer and enterprise apps. In a nutshell, Propelics describes three levels of complexity in enterprise apps corresponding to three price ranges:
- Simple Enterprise iPad App Development Cost: $50,000 (+/- 20%)
- Medium Enterprise iPad App Development Cost: $100,000 (+/- 20%)
- Complex Enterprise iPad App Development Cost: $150,000 (and up)
Features that bump an app into the $100,000 range include a branded and highly tuned user experience, and integration that leverages your existing enterprise capabilities. For real-time integration, mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) infrastructure, you enter the $150,000+ category.
In a late 2012 webinar Propelics reiterated these figures in the context of mobile budget planning for 2013.
An October 2012 post provided some very detailed estimates by the CTO of 5App and his conclusion:
It’s safe to assume that using traditional development techniques to create a cross-platform enterprise app won’t come in under £100K.
He lays out a grid splitting out costs for design, development and testing on one, two or three platforms for four app categories. Here are some example estimates (converted from GBP to USD for comparison to other estimates here):
- An app that extracts data from a database and displays it in a simple list can be expected to take 4-8 weeks to create at a cost of $26,000 on a single platform.
- An app with more complex server-side integration and offline data caching will probably take 8-12 weeks and cost $71,000 to develop for two platforms.
- A full-scale enterprise automation app with integration to business processes will take anything from 3-6 months and may cost over $150,000 to develop on three platforms.
- Assorted Quotes
- An October 2012 analysis of why enterprise apps fail begins with this rather revealing anecdote:
- The head of digital for a major UK interactive agency shut the door and slid the iPad across the table with a pained smile. Her team had developed an app for a major financial services firm. $140,000 and six months later they were about to start again. The client was, unsurprisingly, unhappy.
- Kevin Benedict:
- Companies are under tremendous pressure to develop and deploy mobile apps for their business systems, yet the traditional approach to mobile app development typically costs $250K+ and takes 6+ months for a single app.
- Based upon complexity, the initial costs to develop a native enterprise application for one mobile device platform can range from $50,000 to $250,000. Those costs grow exponentially if you need that app to support multiple mobile device platforms.