How Much Does it Cost to Make and Maintain an App?

With a general trend toward greater mobile-centric data consumption, entrepreneurs seek to create apps to meet the growing demand. Those attempting to develop an app have many factors to consider, including startup and development costs.

App development can range from inexpensive to very expensive (upwards of a quarter of a million dollars), depending on complexity. Many factors contribute to the associated costs. Launching an app involves developing, designing, startup, and maintenance costs that often exceed an initial budget.

No two apps will cost the same amount. Generally speaking, the more complex the app, the more it will cost. Functionality and features are the primary measures of an app’s complexity.

Simple apps serve a single function, do not store data, and are comprised of three or four screens. An example of a simple app is a calculator or a timer. Simple apps are quick to make and relatively cheap.

Database or API apps store data on the user’s device or a remote server. They provide features like content, user registration, sign-in, and data sync between multiple devices.

Multi-Featured or Enterprise apps have several features and a user interface that is custom made to meet your consumer’s needs. The time and cost associated with this type of app project depend on its scope.

Gaming apps can vary in complexity, functionality, and by extension- cost. Games require a high-quality user experience, storyboards, and mechanics that keep the user entertained, all of which add to their creation and maintenance costs.

The cost to build mobile apps depends on the number of intended platforms, design requirements, and the project’s overall complexity.

You can build your app as a native or a hybrid/cross-platform app. Native apps use a coding language that is specific to a particular platform. For example, iOS uses Swift and Android uses Java. Native apps tend to be faster and more reliable and can naturally integrate functionality with existing phone features like the camera or address book. Hybrid/cross-platform apps are more expensive to build because they require multi-device/platform functionality.

Hybrid or cross-platform apps can function on multiple platforms, meaning they can operate on Android and iOS. Because these apps can run on multiple platforms, they can be tricky to build as each software will have its own development rules. Hybrid and cross-platform apps utilize a combination of web and native technologies but do not have access to phone features.

Requirements for app development involve considerations of visual design, user experience (UX), branding, and copywriting used in the app. The functions of the app are essential, but so is the user experience. The app should evoke emotion and be easy to use and understand. UX design can range from $50/hour on the low end to $250/hour for a senior UX designer. The icon, logo, and copy costs can run anywhere between $500 to $2000 each.

Adding additional features to the app can also influence its cost. Integrating payments or in-app purchases, email login, user profiles, and other features are extra considerations, both conceptually and financially.

Once a company has developed an app idea, it has multiple ways to bring it to life. It can:

  1. Outsource abroad – The language of computing is international, and as a result, you can always find developer teams in other countries. Offshore teams perform their tasks remotely from places like India and Russia. Although cheap, offshore teams are typically a high risk when it comes to achieving quality work. Offshore teams are generally not fully staffed and lack proper structure, product managers, designers, or developers. Their portfolios may appear shallow because most successful multi-million dollar apps do not use this method.
  1. Freelancers – Similar to foreign outsourcing, but also carries the potential to recruit top talent. The range of quality is extensive. Freelancers are usually closer to home and abound in great numbers. Freelancers are often professionals, friends, or students. You can face potential issues regarding the quality of work and the speed at which it is completed, but it is more than possible to achieve great results through a freelancer.


  1. Work with an established app development company – Working with an app development company may be pricier, but it is a safer bet. Hiring an app design company like Crafted or a comparable alternative can help you ensure that your investment yields an incredible app that best represents your brand.

App development companies have full, well-structured teams, along with experience in building and launching successful apps. A good app development company will be able to innovate and provide a portfolio of great apps. They will demonstrate a proven track record with examples of their past projects, reviews, or awards. You may also have the chance to talk with former clients or meet their teams to see if they are a good fit for your plans.

A significant factor to consider when seeking to create an app is maintenance. Maintenance includes services like updates, improvements, and bug fixes. It may seem like a nuisance, but you need to plan to maintain your app; remaining stagnant is not an option for an app and not how the technology works. Bear in mind that releasing an app without glitches is not feasible. Once an app is released, it will need continued support for bug fixes and the adoption of user feedback.

The industry norm for software maintenance is roughly 15-20 percent of original development costs, which means that you have to factor in an extra 15-20 percent on top of your development cost whenever seeking to make an app.

In the app-creation world, most people spend more on app development with continued development, meaning that the total cost for developing and maintaining the app can easily exceed initial budgets.

Apps are a vital digital marketing tool that SMEs need. They provide a cost-efficient direct communication and sales channel between the company and the user. It is an investment that will yield returns for your business and marketing goals.

TBN Editor

Time Business News Editor Team