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Giacomo Balli
Innovation consultant specializing in mobile strategy
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How much does it cost to develop an app?

In the past two years, the app market has exploded. In under 9 months the Apple store reported over a billion downloads, and then doubled that number in half the time. The app craze has spread to Android, Blackberry, and every other mobile market under the sun but iPhone app development cost still seems hidden.

And for good reason. Having an app for your business or promotion or whatever it may be can be a game changing marketing tool to drive traffic and revenue. On the highest end of the spectrum, you see Angry Birds making $50M off a simple game. Then you also see people who put out basic free apps and still get thousands of downloads for doing nothing. A lot of conversations I've had in the past year don't even talk about apps because the client thinks it's clearly going to be too expensive and they have no idea where to even start.

The good news? iPhone app development cost is not as expensive as you think and it's really not hard to start.



Let's talk about what goes into getting an app developed.

Types of Apps You Can Develop


Types of Apps You Can Develop

There are many different kinds of apps you can develop. This goes beyond the categories that Apple groups the apps into – food, lifestyle, sports, etc, and into the architecture of different types of apps. Speaking in broad strokes, the basic buckets of app types you can create are:

The type of app you want to develop may change based on how much content you have and how much control you want to have over the entire process. It's important to realize that you can get apps done very quickly and cheaply if you know what type of app you want to develop – going into the process without being open to another option could cost you big time.

App Development Process


The app development process can be broken out into four major parts – idea, layout and planning, design, and going live.

1. The Idea


This is the first genesis of where the app will be going and one step after “I want an app.” Looking the app store, there are dozens of different directions you can go – simple information, a game, interactive, etc. You can imagine that the more complicated it is, the more it's going to cost – but also a higher chance at getting a return on investment. Games are complicated, but can go viral easily. Simple apps don't do much, but they are cheap and easy to build. The first step of the process if to find your sweet spot of budget and marketing effort.

2. Functionality Layout


It's not enough to paint the broad strokes for a programmer, because they're not going to deliver what you want. You need to either invest a lot of your own time to go through the details or find someone who can translate Programmer to Civilian and vice versa. This will pay off big time in the end. This step involves going through every single screen and understanding how all parts of the app interact with each other – If I press this button, what happens? You will be amazed how many steps and scenarios there are for even the simplest app. The amount of functionality that needs to be defined and built will also play a part in the cost of your app.

3. Design


Unlike websites where you can often get someone who can design and code at once, apps usually require a team of people to complete. The nice thing about this is that the designer can be graphics, print, web, or whatever – the deliverables to the programmer will be images that he just pops into the appropriate areas. The design comes in typically once the programming and functionality have been defined – the designer gets a full list of what needs to be created. Design can make or break an app, plain and simple, so don't skimp on this. You need a great icon, splash screens, tab icons, and dozens of other assets that need to be tied together.How To Develop an App Like Angry Birds

4. Going Live


Once you have the app built in xCode (the program that apps are built in for Apple), your developer can help you get the app in the store (iTunes for this example). This requires setting up an iTunes Connect account ($99/year) and then filling out all the information necessary for the app – icons, descriptions, pricing, etc. Most of this is pretty intuitive one you get the files loaded, and a lot of it can be done by your technical team. The setup is also a one time thing, so if you decide to develop another app later on, you already have an account you can dump it into.

Once you have the app up in the store, you can monitor all the analytics on the back side of it through iTunes Connect – how many downloads, how much $$ you are making, etc. There are lots of different ways to drive revenue with apps, including advertisements inside the app and being able to purchase additional information through the app (in-app purchases). You can see everything happening. You can also have someone monitor this account the way you would have someone monitor your PPC or SEO campaigns so that you are always maximizing your traffic and revenue.

iPhone App Development Costs


Development for iPhone apps deals with the programming side of the process. With most projects, an app development firm is going to roll up the design into the entire project since it's a bear to try and piecemeal images into an app unless you build the entire thing dynamic and through XML via online databases. One thing to note is that these costs can vary depending on what devices you are developing for. Make sure you ask your developer what you are developing for – basic iPhone, iPhone 4, iPad or all of the above. I'll see what I can do break out typical iPhone app development cost for different example projects.

iPhone App Design Costs


The design of your app is going to make a huge difference in your overall ROI and user experience. The design will help convert viewers to downloads from the screenshots you decide to upload and will help people using your app feel more engaged. Investing in a good design is easily the best way to increase your margins on a 2 year timeline. You can use a web designer, but often your best bet is going to be finding a mobile app designer who understands user flow and the space restrictions.

App designs usually come in packages, much the same way development does – you will buy a “suite” of .png and PSD files that fulfill all your needs. This includes all necessary screens and icons. You will be surprised at how many different pieces there are, the icon alone needs about 4 different sizings for a universal app (iPhone and iPad). Here's a rough breakdown of costs:

The icons should be included in this entire package and you can probably ask for screen shots if you want to have some that are better than doing a simple screen grab of your phone. I'll say it again – don't skimp on design….you'll have a MUCH harder time making your money back.

Total iPhone App Costs


There really aren't any hidden fees except the the $99 Apple will charge you per year and the 30% cut they take for each sale you make. Everything else will be in development, design, and IT architecture (hosting, servers, etc). The total iPhone app development cost can vary based on all the different variables from above.

You can definitely find all-inclusive firms that will do everything for you for $1,000 or so, just be wary of the quality and how much control you will have over the process. Just like anything in web marketing, low costs means they have to make it up in volume and the client feels that the hardest. Think less about the cost and more about what strategy will have the biggest ROI before pulling out your checkbook. Even if you let the app sit in the store for a year, putting some light marketing and analytics attention on it can easily help pay for your investment. I've seen apps that cost $3,000 drive about 2K new users to a website a month, with an average time on site that is 400% higher than web visitors. You can get very creative in how you market these visits.

Please note that the above numbers are highly variable and can range lower or higher depending on lots of factors. As the market increases in competition, you'll see the cost come down, but just be wary of the 19 year old high schooler who can built you Angry Birds for $1,000. Similarly, there are companies paying $250K for one simple database app to be developed, which is like paying someone half a million dollars for a website. Just corporate bloat – if you're going spend that some money, you better be getting something incredible.

 

via BlueCloudSolutions

#app costs, #app development, #iPhone app development cost
Published: Mon, 24 Dec 2012 20:46:18 +0000