Post updated March 25, 2015.
How much does it cost to develop an app?
Table of Contents
Types of Apps
App Development Process
Free iPhone App Quote
In the past four years, the app market has exploded. Mobile app usage grew by 76% in 2014, and the average US consumers downloads on average 8.8 iOS and Android apps a month.
With the introduction to Apple Pay, Apple now has access to 90% of US credit cards. INSANE! The app craze has spread to Android, Blackberry, and every other mobile market under the sun.
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 Rovio, the makers of Angry Birds worth over a billion dollars off a simple game. Let me repeat that, a BILLION DOLLARS.
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 years 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? It’s 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
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.
NOTE: You should download our free app checklist by clicking here – it will help you understand everything you need to get an app built for pennies on the dollar.
Speaking in broad strokes, the basic buckets of app types you can create are:
- Basic table functionality – think about this as a hierarchy: opening screen has big topics and you click one and you now have a set of new lists to click on.
The email in the iPhone is a good example of this. Definitely the easiest to build and design and a good option for businesses who want a “simple” app that displays basic information.
It’s very possible to make table based apps work with a good iphone app designer.
- Database driven custom functionality – Yes, I know that this is not a very specific bucket, but it is the best way I can describe creatively parsing out content.
Imagine you have a whole load of content that you want to utilize. An example would be having hundreds of dog breeds that you want to organize and display differently.
This can be done beyond the basic table format to make the app really work. Development on this gets more complex and starts to get into whether or not you want the data housed “native” (built into the app) or “dynamic” (built into an online web services).
We’ll talk about that later.
- Games – These have the largest range of complexity, starting with something as simple as a PONG type functionality (imagine Atari) all the way up to a 3D physics engine that does high speed air racing.
Scoring points, incorporating the user experience through the physical movement of the device, and hooking into Game Center are all possible. Want to learn more about games?
Checkout our Games Tips & Strategies article.
- Enhancement or Modification of the device firmware or hardware – This means that you take certain functions of the phone, such as the alarm, camera, or flash, and make it better.
One of my favorite examples of this is the Camera+ app that adds filters to any pictures you take on your phone, plus stores the photos on a lightbox.
- Fully dynamic apps – Similar to the database driven apps, these apps are the kind that rely purely on external information – Twitter, Weather Channel, Flipboard.
- Custom utilities – These are apps that are geared towards allowing the user to input content in a specific way. Examples are Pages, Adobe Ideas, and Numbers.
- Everything else – I’m sure there are some apps out there that are completely unique, but I would say the list above covers 95% of what’s in the store today.
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.
Download this free checklist to get a crystal clear look at making an app, even if you don’t know anything about coding.
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 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. If you need more help fine-tuning your idea, talking to people in our private community will help.
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.
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.
We talk about the design that goes into a winning app in our 21 Step App Checklist & Ebook (download here).
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.
If you’re interested in learning more about the process of making an apps (especially if you have no coding experience), including drafting the idea, development, design, launch, and marketing, checkout our free Mobile App Checklist.
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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, iPhone5, iPhone 6, iPad or all of the above.
Here’s a break out of typical development costs for different example projects.
- Simple, table based app – $1,000-4,000 – you provide all the content, clear direction, and example apps of what you want it to do. If you know your way around Photoshop, you can probably supply the graphics which will cap this project at $1,500. The additional costs are when you want to GPS locators, Social media integration or bells and whistles like that.
- Database App (native) – $8,000-$50,000 – Again, you provide every piece of content, image, writing, sound, etc. The cost is going to come from creating the logic within the app and architecting all the usability and/or game play. The content will usually be dropped in and then parsed accordingly. These projects tend to be front heavy since the data is what’s driving the entire game and the framework is so important.
- Games – $10,000-$250,000 – The hardest to ballpark. As a benchmark – I’ve heard Angry Birds cost anywhere from $125K-$180K to develop (although they were pioneers). Talking to some developers who are into the hardcore game source code (render, sound, maths, physics, etc), many of the racing games will that use the gyroscope will be $125,000 without even blinking – and that’s just for the code.
Even if you try to keep it hyper simple, games get complicated quickly. Hooking into game center, having top scores, and integrating with an online community can be tricky. The benefit of a game is that they download in much greater number.
As a marketer, there is nothing more viral than a fun game, which is something to keep in mind for your ROI. Ask yourself: how much do I need to spend to make a “fun” game? That’s only something you can answer. Checkout the post How To Develop an App Like Angry Birds for more info.
- Additional Includes – See below – here’s a quick list of additional functions you may want to add into your current app:
- In-App Purchasing – $1,000-$3,000 – this allows for users to buy new content or full versions of the apps. The cost spread comes from the amount of in-app purchasing, the complexity, and whether or not you build it all into the first app or if you are doing it from a server.
- Web Services – $1,000-$5,000 – This is taking the content to a remote access point so that you can update your app with an XML files instead of raw code changes. The degree to what you need varies but I would recommend having this conversation with your developer before getting too deep – it can save you HUGE headaches down the road.
- Game Center – $1,000 – Apple’s done a good job at making this integration easy with the SDK. As long as you keep the numbers clean, you should be able to integrate easily.
- Share Capabilities – $500-$1,500 – This is mostly for social media (twitter, facebook) and emailing, but there can be other integrations. WordPress websites, for example, may be one. Lots of options and most of these platforms have robust APIs to make it work well.
- SDKs and like Chartboost – $50-$200 – SDKs are an extremely important part of tracking our apps and making money off them. Generally you can get any SDK integrated for relatively cheap, but the more specific you are with your SDKs, the more expensive. SDKs that you may want to include are: Google Analytics, Chartboost, Applovin, Xplode, AdMob, and Tapjoy.
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:
- iPhone only (usually the base line is not done for the retina display, as seen in the iPhone 4 as they require higher resolution files) – $500-10,000 – This will get you a base level design that you can send over to the developer who will be able to add these images into the code.
HELPFUL TIP: ask the developer what they want the files named and do that for them before sending. It will save you both lots of time and headaches.
- iPhone 6 Plus Compatible – Add 25% to above cost – these images will be sized at 2208 x 1242px height (more than twice that of the 640×1136 iPhone 5)
- iPad – Add 50% to above cost – this is assuming that the layout is very similar and user flow is also similar. In many cases you will have to create alternate functionality to accommodate for the iPad size and speed, which requires new designs.
HELPFUL TIP: Most iPads contain retina images. These images can be large, be cautious of your codes file size when implementing.
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.
The full story of developers and designers can be found in my free ebook.
Total 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 cost of an app 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.
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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.
Learn more about how to develop games and other apps in the post How To Make A Game App – The Easiest DIY Tutorial Ever.
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One More Thing – Make Apps With Templates (No Coding Required)
When I first started I had two goals – learn about this cool new mobile market and make money in the process. The problem was that I didn’t have a huge amount of money to spend AND I couldn’t afford to take a risk like that.
So I figured out that if you buy app source code at a fraction of the cost, you get 80% of the work done for you for about 10% of the cost of developing it yourself. It changed everything.
This process of “flipping” source code allowed me to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in a matter of months.
It’s a new way to think about the app business and how to make money.
Read this post and you’ll see what I’m talking about:
Click here to read about how to re-skin apps »
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How do i go about finding a app designer for a game or concept.
I am looking to develop an app about environment trivia which can work with facebook and twitter. I need some guidance.
Since this is my first venture my budget is limited any help is highly appreciated.
Jay – glad you reached out. There are going to be two parts to this that you need to address – functionality and budget. Something I have had success with is to find 3 or 4 apps that you can reference in terms of what you want. Being able to go to a developer and say “I want this” and then showing them on a functioning app is worth 10 hours of email/phone call descriptions. Create a suite of apps then prepare a one-sheeter of what you like and walk through the user experience, then call a developer. This will save you lots of time and money in the long run, and will make the developer much more willing to help because it is straight forward and the deliverables are defined.
I hope this helps. The more work you can do up front and be able to go to a developer with clear end goals will drop your cost considerably. The reason apps can cost so much is because people walk in the door and say, “I’ve got the BEST idea for an app!” Yikes.
Can you contact me at my e-mail address so I can get an estimate for getting an app made for students to access our lecture notes through the app?
I have an idea for an app that would, really just integrate Google maps and a user built database with pin points on the maps. Basic 5 star rating function. hyper link to either online email forum for Suggesting new Pin points or Bugs.
I’m brand new to this and only have basic idea of how this stuff would work.
I need an idea of Cost, time of development, and best idea of Pricing. Obviously for Confidentiality issues, I can’t say specifics, but would love some guidance, and you seem to have the best knowledge I’ve found on this topic on the web.
Thanks in advance,
Thanks for reaching out. The good news is that with today’s market momentum, a lot of the functionality is becoming main stream and can be built into a lot of apps. The hurdle is going to be integrating a database which will most likely require server space. Not a huge deal, but it will be a cost, probably done so monthly and based on the size of your data set.
Let’s do this. I’ll email you today and put you in touch with a developer I work with who can answer all your questions in detail. Him and I can both sign an NDA if you would like to make sure your idea stays in your pocket. This will allow you have open communication and answers to any questions you would like.
Loved the article. I am currently finishing up a website that will target college students allowing them too see what’s going on around their campus. The business idea would also make for a great app, which I would soon like to hire a developer for to get the ball rolling. The app would be linked to the website (containing the same content) but much more mobile friendly of course. I was wondering if it is less expensive to develop an app if it is just another model of the website (similar to how ESPN’s App contains the same content as ESPN.com). Please shoot me an e-mail back when you get a chance. Thanks!
Sounds like a killer idea. My developer and I once developed an app called “Where the Party At?” that measured where the parties on campus were, along with the guy/girl ratio. Sadly, that project got sidelined by more realistic endeavors. I digress.
You have a few options with your current model. With Xcode’s new functionality and mobile CSS for websites, you can do some pretty easy integrations of a website’s content, much the same way an iframe works on the web. You would essentially be displaying the website on the app through a lens (called “WebView” in the iPhone SDK). The cons are that it can look a little clunky since it is not as seamless and building in functionality directly to the app, but it can keep your costs WAY lower.
The other option is going to be to use the database your website is pulling from and write some new SQL (or whatever) pulls for the app itself. Therein lies some new functionality architecture which a developer can help with – you would essentially be re-creating the user experience from the website but doing it in a way that follows app best practices and overall flow. This gives a much more customized and professional look, but can be a larger project.
My advice is to look at the overall business model of your current project and be honest about where your revenue is coming from. Is this a website driven model that can use some extra fire power? Or is this is a fully dynamic and interactive online tool? The first would lend itself to a killer website that has an app to supplement. The second would be to have a custom app built to rise the overall tide of the company, as opposed to just giving a traffic injection to the website.
Hope that helps. Thanks for reading!
I am looking for an app developer that is willing to partner with me for a cut (i.e…% of the business, cut of profits) after hearing the idea. I have started to try to learn to do some coding but it will take me a year to code something someone else can code in a month. I have many app ideas but one that is foremost. I am looking for someone that I can build a relationship with. I know I sound like everyone else but I think the app can make a lot of money. I already own the domain and have a graphic artist making the icon. I have the app planed out but am willing to take advice. If you know anyone that is interested pleas send me an e-mail.
SSgt Anthony Robertson
“I know I sound like everyone else” :), please if you somebody to recommend to SSgt Anthony Robertson, please do the same for me.
Thanks a lot!
For both SSgt Richardson and AD (and anyone else in the same position), here’s where I can help. Honestly, I could put you in touch with a dozen developers if you would like, but that’s probably not going to get you anywhere except wasting a lot of time. Here’s why:
Developers are smart people. They work hard and they have a very unique skill set, one that is becoming more and more attractive to the markets. For the past 10 years, developers have been getting asked to build X, Y, and Z for non-developers in the form of websites, apps, and databases. In exchange, the developers are promised a cut of future success. Herein lies the fundamental problem: there is no future without success….and most non-developers don’t know how to CREATE that future without an app or developer. But it’s possible.
As someone who has had countless Sales guys telling me they’ve got a $50K contract right on the goal line and just need me to put together a 3 page marketing deck for them, I understand both sides of the coin. Developers think you are full of it, and you need a developer to even get into the game. Here’s how you appeal to developers and get the type of relationship you are talking about above.
Go out and prove that this app will be successful. If you think that a “good idea” is going to make you more than $5K just because it’s in the store you are out of your mind. The only way apps explode is through aggressive marketing and partnerships. I put a free app out on the market just to see how it would perform as a supplement to a website and it does about 10-15 downloads a day. Most developers know this too – and most non-developers don’t. It’s VERY hard to make money with just a great idea, but it’s NOT hard to make lots of money if you have a great strategy. If you can architect that strategy with hard action plans and inked partnerships, any developer would jump at that sort of joint venture. For ideas, check out my latest blog post on “How to Make Money With Apps”
How do you prove that an app will be successful? Market research, out reach, networking, etc. Go out into the market as if you have it and pitch it to people. Hire a designer to get you a mockup that you can introduce via conversation. Take all the responsibility for the success into your own hands. THEN go to a the developer and show them WHY it’s going to be successful. You’ll have a much better chance at doing so.
So – my advice to you both is – if your app is going to be so awesome, prove it.
just read your article and you said to shoot a question if we had one, I do. I have an idea for an app for parents I think would be great. I’ve read a little about the process but because I only have the idea and no skills to program the app…how do I present it to a developer? Is there a way to just become partners with one I give the idea they create in exchange for 50% split of profits? This is of course if they feel the idea would earn a profit. I need to find out if the idea would even work I’m not sure if the technology exists. If it does I need to get it developed without a ton of out of pocket expense. Any suggestions/ advice would be greatly appreciated
Thank you for your response.
You are asking all the right questions. It can be overwhelming to think about getting from an idea all the way to a finished product and breaking it down as you have above is exactly the way to approach it.
I would recommend starting with your last point – finding out if the idea would even work and if the technology exists. If you’ve seen it before, or something similar, then chances are it does. It’s more a question of how much it costs and how long it will take. For example, some developers will write 3D graphics apps in Unity, while others write in Flash based technologies – both get the job done but are pulling from various types of coding platforms. My point is that I can almost guarantee that the technology is there, unless of course you are talking about an app that will filter tap water or walk your dog for you. I digress.
Many developers will be willing to sit down with you for a “free quote” type consultation and give you a straight answer on what you can expect for your project. This will determine basic functionality, timeline, and cost. This is actually very helpful because it forces you, the client with the idea, to think through every part of the project. Often the best ideas tend to be the simplest to explain, but the hardest to program. If a developer is unwilling to give you this free quote time, that’s probably a red flag off the bat. Shop around online and you’ll see some firms that will readily give you online consultations or speak on the phone.
Something you can do in the meantime is start researching the app store for similar apps. You’ll probably run across a few that have similar functionality and themes, which you can relay to the developer. This will also give you a gauge to the popularity. If you need help with the research, you can always hire someone to do that research for you (try http://www.elance.com), but doing it yourself may be a good exercise anyway so that you know what it is you want.
There is no silver bullet with approaching a developer about a business idea, but the more you can prove to them, then better. Show them apps that are doing well, with websites that support those apps, marketing strategies, social media, etc. If you can show a path to success, your chances of getting a partner increase.
Also remember that If you can’t convince someone else that it’s a winning idea, it might not be 🙁
Best of luck,
Could you please direct me toward some revenue models for APPS/?
I see free, 99 cents, 4.99, etc. with prices of many being adjusted over time. How are development costs folded into the equation? I hear about development costs ranging from $30,000.00 to hundreds of thousands, yet the price at the APP store is minimal. How many of these are actually making money?
Your question covers many different topics of discussion and I’m going to do my best to touch them as best I can. In terms of directing you to a revenue model for apps, that’s a hard question to answer. Financial forecasting off of the app market is incredibly hard to do, but becomes more feasible with more actionable strategies. What I mean by this is your “app revenue model” is most likely going to be directly correlated to your marketing plan. If you don’t have a marketing plan and still want to do a revenue model off the app, you’re at the mercy of the general population, viral spreading, and other factors that are volatile in nature and can create a data model nightmare.
In terms of pricing, the best market research I’ve seen has show an inverted exponential graph for price jumps. You’ve seen it before – downloads are very high when it’s free, then it jumps down at 99 cents (considerably – to the measure of almost 90% in many cases), then continues to be depressed with increased cost.
BUT – the quality of those downloads is very different. If you look through the app store, you will notice that higher priced apps tend to have more reviews that contain better information and deeper insight. You can extrapolate that the higher the price, the larger the ratio of downloads to reviews. Reviews are a great way to get more downloads, which need to be factored into the overall price structure.
Without question, the best revenue model is to integrate in-app purchases to a free app. Free app download numbers are vastly higher than paid app numbers and can give you much more valuable data to work with. Depending on the architecture of your app, the in-app purchase allows users to purchase full versions or more content – a free app suddenly becomes worth $4 or $5. The conversion on this sort of psychology is much more powerful than having to go back to the app store and buy the full version.
Another strategy when pricing your app is to cycle your pricing. This can be done through your iTunes Connect account as often as you would like. You’ll see how things change and what creates the best ROI for your app. One thing I’ve seen that works is to go from Free to $.99 and then back to Free and watch what happens. An interesting development in the app market is the surge of app review sites and app aggregators which pull in the “latest free” or “latest $.99” apps, so you get a bump in downloads simply because you’re back to the top of those lists.
In terms of creating an ROI on your app, it’s not easy. It could take a year or two, but is going to be DIRECTLY correlated to your marketing. Having a great app is terrific and will spread through natural paths, but you need to have an aggressive marketing strategy to spike downloads. Also remember that apps don’t necessarily need to be the full revenue driver – if you create an app that sends people to another place where they can supply value (email marketing, fb likes, etc), you can generate a series of assets that will help your bottom line on a 5 year scale.
Hope this helps. Please comment back if you have any further questions.
Thank you, Carter, for sharing your thoughtful insights with me.
I am going to spend some time studying them.
5k for an app will not get you much
You’re right. Concurrent with the speed of the app market, the pricing has changed accordingly. I do competitive pricing every few weeks on freelancing websites just to see what the cost change is – my usual technique is to send them an existing app, tell them I will take care of all design and content, and the price has virtually tripled since when I wrote this article originally. $5K was designed to be a cost if you want to go baseline, off-shore templated app. There are plenty of companies around the country these days that provide those types of services, often DIY, and make their money on the monthly hosting of your app. To create a custom app, the cost skyrockets. To create a game, I would say don’t even call a developer unless you have $25K.
Thanks for the comment.
its estimated that the initial investment for angry birds was 100,000 Euros($143,110) ,not including updates. And from a developers standpoint thats not a complicated game
I am still skeptical about the prices that we have to pay to get this app developed. Im afraid if I pay the price to get it developed, like 3K or so, I won’t be able to make it back. What do I do?
This is a great question and it’s very important to address this issue before spending your hard earned money. There are a few ways to make sure you re-coup your costs which I will outline below. The good news is that, on a 700 day timeline, I can almost guarantee you that you will make the money back. But, it’s more than just “set it and forget it.”
• Create a very loose business model that is essentially a revenue/marketing strategy. The best way to tackle this is to create a hierarchical flow that breaks down the end goal ($4,285 – which is what you will have to sell to have $3,000 since Apple takes 30% of all profit) into realistic and tangible actions. An example would be a work path that goes something like: $4,285 -> 4000 downloads -> 1000 downloads from custom website -> 5,000 visits in 2 years -> Build website, optimized for traffic. This then points you saying “I need to build a simple website and do basic SEO on it to account for 25% of what I want to accomplish. The other channels will follow similar modeling and show you what’s working and what’s not.
• Be very aggressive in your marketing. Without question, the best way to get downloads is through partnerships. As an individual, it may be a challenge to team up with companies unless you are benefiting them, so reaching out to other individuals who can leverage their follower base (bloggers, writers, etc) is a great place to start. Offer them incentives with free downloads and target them specifically. Even a few who agree with be a complete game changer for you.
• Be realistic about how much time you are willing to put in. If $3K is a stretch for you, having a marketing budget might be out of the question, meaning you are going to have to do a lot of the leg work yourself. A lot of this work is going to be front-heavy, meaning you’ll have to invest a lot of hours up front to get the momentum going. You’ll definitely get downloads just from being in the store, but that makes you a passive actor in the process and does nothing to ensure the ROI.
• Test different dollar amounts. Change your app from Free to Paid and move from $0.99 to $4.99. See what works best for you and your ROI goals.
• Get as many reviews as you can. You can do this with friends and family, along with inviting people to get the app for free if they do a review. You could also hire firms to do this for you, but that can be a little dicey.
• Invest in the marketing copy on your app page. Create conversion driving text and calls to action so that when people see your app in the store, they are more inclined to download.
In summary – without knowing anything about your app, I am almost certain you could make your money back in a few years. It just requires some marketing plans. Check out my other blog post on How to Make Money with Apps for some more ideas.
Hope this helps!
Thank you! I will work on it. And please if you see a good developer who makes iPhone apps, please contact me.
I’d appreciate it if you were to email me. I have some questions regarding the cost of app development.
Travis – email coming your way.
I enjoyed the article and comments. Found it to be insightful. Good information for everyone out there on both the App development and App Investment sides. As an Android developer, we get a lot of negative response to the cost of building a game. Folks want “the next Angry Birds but with more levels” for under $1000 or a “percentage of profit”. I believe one thing that has occurred, with the main streaming of Apps, is that software development is not hidden behind the curtain to the general public. Initially with websites and now Apps, people from all different sectors are coming face to face with software development costs for there business or idea. I do enjoy the Angry Birds comparisons still. Another fun fact on the dev cost of Angry Birds is that it was made in a country where the average workers salaries are roughly 60% of their US counterparts. Bottom line, it’s fun to play! … dang pigs.
I stumbled upon this article, and have some questions for you. I have an idea for an app and have even tested it out with a rough version of it as a mobile website, and the feedback was amazing. If you could take the time, please email me, I would love to talk about what I have. Thanks!
Mike – awesome to hear from you. I’m sending you an email now.
Very informative blog, thanks! I currently have a game in development with a team in Texas and I do belive it has the potential to be “The next Angry Birds”. My question is do big companies (soft drinks, clothing, etc) sponser games before release to help cover some of the development costs? I just think getting the game attached to a well-known company would be epic marketing equaling huge profit. Thanks in advance for your input.
Thanks for the note. I wonder if the team you are developing with is one that I have relationships with. It would be fun to catch up via email after this. RE: sponsors covering costs: the answer is very rarely will they shell out money while it’s in the development phase. Larger companies are still about two years behind the 8 ball on understanding what’s an investment vs what’ a sunk cost. I actually pitched the New Jersey Devils on getting into the app market 3 years ago and they said they wouldn’t even think about defraying the cost of one billboard spend to pay for the app. Now they are barely starting to get serious about spending more than $40K.
Here’s what you can do, though. Check out AppBackr – http://www.appbackr.com – for some ideas. This is exactly what you are looking for, but done through crowdsourcing instead of corporate alliance. In my opinion, stay away from corporate money as much as you can for paying for the development and use them as a marketing partner. Their value is their user base and credibility. AppBackr should allow you to get money up front in exchange for selling futures on your apps. If your app is going to be this popular, the NPV (net present value) of money is higher now than it is in the future.
Another option is less about covering development costs and focusing on how to maximize your revenue model for the biggest impact possible. There are SO many different ways to promote and make money off your app that 95% of people don’t know about. It requires time and some money, but the overall impact will easily pay for itself many times over. I offer these publishing services if you ever want to explore that road. It’s all free of charge, just done with a revenue share of the app for a certain period of time. Totally up to you.
Finally, I would look into technology grants and private investment. For technology grants, this is typically on a state by state basis, but I know here in Maine, it’s possible to get up to $30K in start up grants for projects like app development. Contact your local Small Business Association and ask. For private investment, I had a meeting with a wealth management company last week to pitch them on a business model of app development/app publishing. I showed them all the metrics, marketing and revenue model, yearly ROI, exit strategy, everything. They were floored and were extremely interested. I would recommend that road if you are looking for big money quick.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions – we can keep talking via email.
Thanks a lot for your response/reply regarding sponsorship. I was thinking that myself about finding a marketing partner rather than development cost. The development company were willing to take a loss to have their name associated with my game. Instead of the initial $80k, they’re getting the ball rolling for $20k. This game without a doubt has huge potential. Perhaps I need to find a company such as Monster Energy as a partner….HUGE advertising web! Haha. Thanks again for your helpful suggestions. What is your e-mail address? I have a couple questions about suggested artists and copyright.
Stumbled upon your blog and found it incredibly informative. I am looking to engage a developer for an app idea that i have. Appreciate if you could drop me a mail to discuss some of the questions i have.
David – you got it. Email coming at you now.
Hey I just got hit with an idea regarding what could be the next biggest social networking app and I wanted to know if you have some insight as to how much an app like twitter cost to develop. I feel like that would be the closest relative idea to what im looking to do.
I have an idea for an app. I think it will cost to develop it approximately as it cost to develop the game “sushi go round” by miniclip.
So, how much do you think it cost? And how do you think it will increase the cost if I will add an option for the players to chat to each other? (approximately of course)
Thanks for all the great information, Carter! I don’t know if it’s information you’re willing to divulge, but I really want to learn how to develop and program for applications, but I don’t know where to start or what path to take. I know some basic HTML, but that’s it. Any advice or direction would be massively appreciated!
You’re in the same spot I was about a year ago – HTML/CSS knowledge, but little development experience. The entire process of going from idea to published app can be overwhelming, but here is some advice on how to make it happen for someone in your position:
1. If you want to learn from the ground up, your best bet is to download the tutorials from Apple developer center. Once you sign up, you’ll have access to these. This is a good way to learn how the frameworks function and how all the different elements in Xcode can be used together. The first few are pretty simple and you’ll be building table-style apps in no time. The provisioning process is a bit more complicated, but they do a good job at walking through it.
2. Your second option is to find some open source iOS apps that are out there in the web and download them as examples. You can tear them apart and find out how it all works. This is more of a learning style decision (I learn much better from examples than from reading a textbook) and skips a lot of the baby steps in the Apple tutorials. It’s all up to how you want to do it.
3. Outsource your work. I can read Xcode pretty well and understand what needs to be done, etc, but I couldn’t build an app much more than what Apple gives out in their tutorials. I do, however, know what developers need to hear to make things happen, which is perfect for outsourcing. I have two suggestions:
• Check out elance.com for the most kick ass network of developers and designers. I like to peruse the posted jobs section to find out what people are looking for and get ideas on how to present my idea to a development team.
• Read this book – How to Make iPhone Apps with No Programming Experience. It’s probably the best $100 you can spend if you want to get an app built and it outlines everything extremely well. I only promote products that I have had big success with, and this is one. The reason I prefer this route is because trying to learn everything yourself is going to take thousands of hours to get to a point where you can really whip out some good stuff.
Hope this helps. Let me know how it goes!
I’m looking for an app developer for an app with gps locator, social media share, and interactive graphics (such as taking a picture with your iPhone and drawing a picture on it with the touch screen). I would really like to have someone who would do the coding so that I can apply the same coding to different locations for multiple apps. I know more info would be needed, but can you give me a rough estimate from this info. I read in your article that you could do the app development or direct us to someone who could do this.
Looking for a Developer,
Hmm…hard to say for a rough estimate based on that alone, but I would ballpark $30K. All the pieces you talked about are not overly complicated, but putting them together in a logical user experience is going to be complex. The $30K is going to cover all that work + project management + design if you did it in a relatively straightforward way and will be built in a way that can be templated across multiple apps. Again, this cost could swing drastically after a project plan is put together.
I can introduce you to a few firms if you would like – one international and one domestic. I received your email so I have that, just let me know if you want the intros.
I’ve had an idea for a game fro a few weeks now but I’ve had no idea what to do with it as I have no experience in game development, programming or artistic design. The idea keeps coming back to me though so I’m doing my best to see it to fruition. I’ve been looking for a developer to talk to and finally found your site!
My idea revolves around a TV show that has been airing for a few years and I always remember wishing I could replicate what was happening on the shows with the toys that were sold. Unfortunately, due to physics and reality, it simply was not possible. But today, when we can use the iPhone or iPads gyroscope to replicate the movements its seems like that replication could be possible. The show I’m talking of is Beyblade. I would like to share my more specific ideas with you with the wish that I can get assistance or an estimate at what it would take to move this along but I am unsure if an NDA is necessary.
It is a lot to go from an idea to app published in the store, especially for a game like Beyblade. What I can offer is some advice on how to break this down into digestible and actionable parts.
Your first step is going to be to take the game and your idea and map it out on a piece of paper or on your computer. You need to go through as many steps as possible as a potential user and draw out exactly what someone would experience when playing the game. This is going to be the foundation that determines how the app is built because it’s going to architect how complex the app will be. Just looking at the videos on Beyblade’s website, it’s going to be pretty complex, I suspect.
In terms of the physics, one thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that the physics of user actions are not nearly as hard to program as the 3D physics of what happens after the action is done. The RENDERING of physics is where you get hit on cost and complexity. An example would be a game where you make a throwing motion with the phone to throw a ball for a dog to go fetch (I actually think this is an awesome idea for an app, by the way, SOMEONE PLEASE STEAL THIS IDEA). The developers could easily build the throw-to-ball physics integration, but the visual dog running away from you would cost way more. Kind of counter intuitive, but that’s how it goes.
The final piece is going to be to determine how deep the game goes. How many characters/levels/bonuses/power ups? How does the point system work? This is more for the design side of things because once the level and and character game play is established, it just becomes a liner model (more levels = copy and paste).
Cost is hard to say. If I were going to broadly quote this, I’d say you’re looking at spending at least $150K and 8-12 months. That number is probably on the low side of things, too. If I were you, I’d look through the store and find a few games that are close enough to what you want and copy them – literally write down exactly how the game is built and then talk to some developers about your project in that sense. You should also talk to a designer who can make this happen – I’ve got a team who kills graphics in the Anime world, but you’re going to need to provide a detailed list of what they need to do, otherwise you’re going to be spending most of your time managing them instead of getting products.
Hope this helps and good luck!
Thanks for the great article!
I want to develop a news app for my blog, something like Engadget’s or New York Times’ app. How much would that cost?
Thanks for reading, I appreciate it.
A news style app is actually going to be pretty cheap. First and foremost, you should install a mobile version of the app (if it’s on WordPress, you can do this with a free plugin) and get that dialed in. If you want to get into building a custom blog app, invest your money in the design. Most blogs are going to have XML feeds that integrate nicely into Xcode so the development will be pretty straightforward. If you want to get cute with different functionality, you may pay a bit more but it won’t be too much. I wouldn’t spend more than $2K on the development of that, and another $2K on a sweet design. Keep it really simple to start and integrate something like email signup or feedburner so that you can make money off of it – otherwise just stick to the mobile site for now.
IMPORTANT**** – Apple is going to reject your app unless the functionality is distinctly different that an HTML5 web app (mobile site, basically). Make sure you’re prepared for this, because they’ve been cracking down a lot. Usually they’ll let it slide if it’s designed well, but keep it in mind before spending any money.
I’m hoping to get an estimate of an App for a university that offers an email notification feature, campus map (possibly with GPS), library catalogues and features that lets students pay library fines and top up printer credits.
Interesting idea and I’ve actually talked to a few people about something similar. The key here is going to be the database that the current system is running off of already, like the software that you would use on a daily basis to manage the payments and all that. The app is going to have to hook into that somehow and that’s going to dictate your costs.
Let’s assume that there isn’t anything overly complex about the current database and you hire a firm to come in, normalize the data and then parse it out to the app which would display it very nicely for the student. Chances are you’ll spend about $75K – most of which will go into the data integration and the design. The Xcode probably wouldn’t be too difficult if all the data was served up the way the developers needed it.
Your best bet is to find a development shop that will do what’s called a “discovery phase” where they will take $10K (or % of a projected cost) and spend a month figuring out exactly how they would do this and deliver you a formal strategy document. If you decide to go ahead, you can roll that discovery cost into the final cost and they go full steam ahead. Otherwise, you can say no and you still have a full strategy if you want to explore it later or shop around for new developers.
Hope this helps and good luck!
Im working on a project for school where people can use a mobile App to tag (with GPS coordinates) a pothole (or otehr road condition, ice, downed tree etc.). Other than the GPS tag, there would be a form for some other basic information related to the condition being reported. From there, the township/municipality that the tag was made in, needs to be able to load the data from teh tag and the form into their GIS or some sort of database. Is this possible and if so can you give me some rough estimates for costs?
This is an awesome idea and I would be thrilled if a local government would invest in this. GPS is probably going to be your best bet, maybe even tie in the camera so that you send a picture of the pothole with the coordinates.
Instead of hooking into the governing body’s GIS system, I would probably keep this independent. You may even be able to do this all through Google Maps and their API and display it on an independent website, which could then be served up to a dispatcher or something. The reason I say this is because trying to take GPS data and integrate it into an established system is a) going to cost a lot and b) going to take about 5x longer (if it ever gets done). God bless America but my goodness is it hard to get anything done with a governing body (at least in terms of solutions).
So – let’s say you have this system where people could identify potholes, tag it, and upload to a server which would parse out to a map on your site. Your costs are going to be in the app and in the Google API integration (which is basically an app development cost). If I had to ballpark this, I’d say about $50K to get it up and running, and another $25K to add some bells and whistles. Definitely stay away from the township’s GIS systems at all costs 🙂
Hope this helps. Good luck with your school project and keep asking questions!
Very very informative I have an idea to create an app
Here in the uk could you e-mail me so I can send over NDA
I already have a lot of ideas for add ons as well
I’ll send you an email right now. Catch you soon!
Hi Carter, a great and informative read.
I’m looking to create a drinks menu app for my family restaurant. We have a website and infrastructure, including a MySQL database where parts of our website and our menu live.
I want to create an app where customers would browse the menu by drink type. This means a home screen, a drink profile screen, and a search screen. The biggest obstacle I see is how to connect to an external database and display the data.
What would you quote me for a project of this sort? Looking for a ballpark figure, assuming: 1) we provide the product photos, 2) around 50 drink types.
It would be nice if you could give me a ballpark figure broken into design and development cost.
Right on – I’m actually spearheading a project that’s very similar to this. Basically we take specialty cocktail recipes for a liquor brand and create a digital platform for them – mobile being a large part of that.
Unfortunately, you’re probably not going to be able to leverage your current database in a way that’s plug and play, but it’s not a huge deal since you’re probably not working with thousands of drinks. Realistically you COULD but it’s going to be a way bigger project than you want to take on.
Your first option is to simply create a web app or slick mobile website for your existing content. This will give you the most flexibility and “mission control” type business logic when it comes to updates. The cost of a mobile site can fluctuate greatly – if your site is on WordPress you can do it for free, or you can have someone build out a slick CSS for $15K.
I actually just built an app that runs off of a central database of cocktails in order to create game play for a bartending game (you pick the ingredients to make the drink and get tips for it). The end goal is to have a database on a server somewhere that dynamically feeds the app and website, thus only has to be updated once. But, for now, we had the developer build a native database that lives in the app. If we want to edit recipes or add recipes, it’s going to be an update and not just automatic. Pros and cons to that.
My point is that unless you’re dealing with an enormous amount of data, you should focus on taking your existing database and building something on top of that. Invest in design, not functionality. I don’t know what your plans are, but it’s going to be really hard to make your money back if you try to do much more with a family restaurant app.
So – if you built an app that does what you wanted with the home screen, profile, search, etc, and you have all the data in a nice excel spreadsheet (including image files, probably), you shouldn’t pay more than 2-3K and should probably outsource it. You should find an app in the store that does exactly what you want and have someone copy it, then you provide all the data for them.
In fact, I had a firm create a copy of the Martha Stewart Cocktail App for iPhone and iPad in order to display content like this beautifully. I paid about 5% of what the original cost and all the work is just in the content.
For design, you should pay about the same 2-3K, which will include icon, screen shots, and the app designs. The reason this is so low is because you’re really not asking for much more than a template. Check out this website
http://www.appdesignvault.com for an idea of what you should be asking for – literally a PSD suite that you can layer into the app.
If you’re serious about this, find an app to copy, then put a bid on an outsourcing website, then hire a designer. Get the design done before the development on an app like this. Then make sure all your content is totally dialed in and organized as best you can.
I hope this helps. I’m not sure if you’re versed well in Xcode, but if you ever wanted to talk about licensing that framework I have, let me know. You can check the heliski app blog post for a rough idea – I would only recommend it if you have really good photography.
Hey Carter, I was working on a iphone app that would need to use images from google earth. It would only need a snap shot of the area. Is there another step of fee I would need to pay to use a google earth image on a app?
When you get into the Google Earth world, licensing gets weird. You can, however, easily use the Google Maps API in an app free of charge. I’m not sure if that’s going to solve your problem, but it’s possible.
Another idea is that you build the GPS functionality of the app to harness the long/lat coordinates of whatever it is you’re looking to, then layer in an image file – like a town map or aviation charts or something like that, which overlays on the Google map. Then the application just does everything you want using the Google engine, but displays the way you want it?
Hope that helps. Bottom line is that the data Google Earth is using is free and open source, but the rendering of that data is not.
I’ve got an idea for an I phone app, image manipulation a bit like fat booth. I’m not technical at all but I’m pretty sure that the image manipulating required is far less complicated than in fat booth, and it provides funny images that I think a lot of people will enjoy making. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t already exist and I’d like it to link to social networks. Any tips? Should it be developed for Iphone 4 or all iphones. How much do you think I should aim to pay to get it developed? Should I charge per purchase or use advertising or both? My brother is a senior and very succesful (but busy) graphic designer, I should probably get him to help with the design shouldn’t I? (that’s a bit of a rhetorical question).
Let me see if I can answer all your questions specifically before getting into the “any tips” part of this:
1. It should be developed for all phones – 3G all the way to 4S. The biggest thing is going to be the retina graphics along with the regular graphics (just double sized), along with any iOS 5 coding that needs to be addressed. This should be packaged in with any development deal.
2. Hard to say how much you should get this developed, but I would think under $10K. A lot of it depends on how much functionality you want, but there are a lot of bells and whistles built into the Xcode framework. So, it would have to be laid out in order to give it a price quote. Also realize that what’s “simple” for a website, like twitter and facebook integration, is a whole different beast in apps. Make sure you catalog every single piece of the puzzle.
3. You should make the app free and then sell a premium version or unlock features in the app for $0.99 or whatever price. iAds are NOT recommended by me, both because they’re ugly and because the money isn’t that great unless you are crushing it.
4. Yes, you should have your brother design it.
Take a piece of paper and write out the entire app from start to finish with a box for every possible screen a user could see. Put these in a flow diagram that reads kind of like a “if – then” type deal. If the user presses this, then this happens, etc. As a rule of thumb, the more screens, the more it’s going to cost, but the more users you will get and the more money you will make. Clearly that’s a very broad statement, but it’s pretty true (I liken it to the analogy that high SAT scores doesn’t mean you’re smart….even though all the smart kids seemed to get high SAT scores…ya know?). I digress.
My biggest tip is to take what you have above and get super specific – you should be able to answer any question anyone asks you about the app and have a visual to prove it (like a diagram that you can point to and say “this is what happens”). Then, when you’ve got all that lined up, go on elance or some outsourcing website and write out a request for proposal and see what people come back with – this is going to get you the price ballpark you need. If you bid it in the $1-5,000 range, you’re going to get people trying to make the app as cheaply as they can. If you bid it in the $5-10,000 range, you’re going to get people who will deliver you exactly what you want and won’t ask questions.
Hope that helps.
Hello its me again. What you said is a good idea Ill look into that. By taking a screen shot of the ear on a computer from google earth using it as a photo on the app be legal? Or would I need to tal to them first? Thank you.
Hey Jack –
You’re probably going to need to get some proprietary content for the images, not screen shots of Google Earth.
hi carter this was a very good info but i wd like to go farther
so i given you my email and i xpect some more info from you
thank for your help.
Sending you and email now.
hi carter im interested on getting a game going, please shoot me an email so i can write you something a little bit more specific,
very nice info, thank you so much!!
Thanks for the kind words. I’m sending you an email now.
I have an app idea but am not sure about posting it here right away, just in case it gets stolen. wasn’t sure if this gets on the board or not right away. just email me back and ill talk.
Just sent you an email.
I am building my business plan for an online start-up and need to pin point costs for what exactly I need. I am looking to utilize both a web site as well as a mobile application and need them to integrate seamlessly as a reservation system. I was hoping you could suggest an innovative and proven developer that can create a progressive and functional brand ? Are these developers willing to meet with start-up concepts in order to cost out development options ? Thank you in advance for your response.
Interesting questions – just to clarify, you’re looking for a developer who is dialed in with the vision of your start-up both from a brand and from a cost perspective? Often this comes into play with a revenue split on the mobile app. Most of the development firms I work with only team up with large companies that have proven track records of revenue if they are going to go down the revenue sharing side of things. I’m happy to introduce you, but I’m not sure if it’s going to be in the start-up price range.
A few ideas for you:
1. Instead of looking for a development firm, look for a project manager or brand manager. What this person does is guide any development moving forward in order to get you to where you want to go and thus can price out different options with much more flexibility. You can open yourself up to off shore development with the right point person leading the charge as opposed to banking on the development firm to be the right fit. I’d lean on someone with web marketing experience and also some mobile development experience so that they understand the strategy behind the whole thing because, in reality, that’s the #1 thing you should be concerned about as a start-up using these tools.
2. Start your search local. A face to face meeting is going to close the deal with a much higher percentage than phone calls or skype. This is also helpful because you’ll get live feedback and be able to sculp your offer moving forward.
3. Put your project on a freelancing site and see what sort of pricing you get – you’ll be amazed at the spectrum and quality of proposals.
Hope this helps.
Thank you for your detailed response. I will use these suggestions to get a better idea for what a project like mine will ultimately cost to develop . I do want to ask though, you referenced larger firms that offer revenue sharing options for established companies, is there not a development firm that offers similar options for start-up projects? A venture technologist of sorts. Thanks again for your time.
Hard to say. I think you might have better luck finding someone who’s going to be an investor on that level, then leverage that into a development shop. It’s hard to get partnerships from development firms on the startup level unless you’ve got a clear path to success (contracts, money, etc).
I am currently sourcing an iPhone developer for an instant messaging platform. I have received quotes ranging from 15k-100k. Most recently I have received guidance that the price variance may be due to the type of server that would need to be built on the back end so that the amount of users and messaging functionality simulataneously between users does not slow the app down. I have zero tech background. Can you please help me understand what would be required on the back end to host an instant messaging platform? Feel free to respond via email.
Yeah sure. An instant messaging system is going to be different than most because of the speed and types of data calls, along with it being hooked into cellular networks (possiblye). In essence, you’re going to be paying for the actual database architecture and then paying for the integration into a hosting solutions/servers. Database architecture means that you’ll have to build something that can interface with the app in terms of saying “here’s a message in, here’s where it’s stored and to whom, and here’s how it goes out” among other things. That’s probably where the bulk of the cost is going to be going. The second part is where that database gets put – probably something like Amazon Web Services or their G.ho.st service. That’s less of an issue.
So the instant messager has a whole range of possibilities – on the cheap side, some of those firms may try to weave it into a web app using something like AJAX and then parse everything through that sort of framework (like a website that no one sees). This is not very robust and would probably fail if you had a lot of users, but it’s going to be cheap. The other end of the spectrum is something like .NET (or any language really) a that would handle all the data itself, store it, and parse it at lightning speed. Users would have to log in, find friends, then they could send messages to them.
This is kind of like a website that wants to have a chat functionality – you can ping third parties or you can build your own database.
I hope that helps. A lot of the details would be based on what exactly the app is and how the IMs work with each other. I know this is a cliché but you’re going to get what you pay for 🙂
Let me know if you have more questions.
First off, I love the website. It is very easy on the eyes, and it is helping me understand the cost of developing an app. Like so many other people, I am a man with passion and a dream of developing an app. This would be my first project like this, but never have I been so excited. I live just north of Los Angeles, and I am surrounded by tallented people that can help make this happen. My questions for you are 1. How important is a well thoughtout business plan prior to creating an app. 2. How big is too big? If I had an idea that could catch a world wide audience, would you scale it down a little in the first version, and slowly give the audience the updates? And finally, do you know of any websites that you could submit a business plan to a V.C.? Being a student, it might be a little tough to draw 10-80 k in funds lol. Any help would be great 🙂
I’m really glad you wrote and thanks for the kind words. It’s awesome to hear your passion and I wish you the best of luck. Hopefully I can help you get there.
1. There are two important plans to have before developing an app – a project plan and a business plan. The Project plan is going to make sure you get the app done the way you want it and all that other great stuff with project management (ugh :-P). The business plan is going to make sure you make money, get downloads, or achieve whatever your business goals are. For me, I focus on the business model side of things because I look at the growth of apps as why I build them, but that’s not more important by any means. My advice is to look at your budget, create a loose plan of how you’ll make your money back, then focus on building an AWESOME app. A great product is the best business model I’ve ever seen.
2. No idea is too big! If you haven’t already – read some of those books I have on the right hand column of my website. But yes, I understand what you are saying. My advice on that situation would be to be very honest about how big you can make something and still provide a great product. For example, if you wanted to blow out a massive, world wide app that would get a million users in the first month, you’re going to need a full team building and managing that thing and about $1M bucks. But, if it was going to be awesome and you wanted to manage that sort of workload, then that’s what you should do. If it’s just you, you should start small, learn everything inside and out, then grow it when you can delegate work to people. You never want to feel out of control with something like that, because then you’re going to get work that’s only 80-90% perfect, which is unacceptable.
3. Submitting a biz plan to a VC is not something you want to do via website. You should start by getting the biz and project models together, then get some meetings with people in your area. The key is not to pitch them, but to take them out to lunch and have the school you/tear apart all your work. It sucks, but it’s going to make your model WAY better. Keep doing that and you’ll get money. Best quote I ever heard for this kind of thing is “Ask for money and you get advice. Ask for advice and you get money.” It’s so true.
A few places to check out are http://www.appbackr.com and even something like kickstarter.com. These are ways people are raising money organically, but kickstarter is going to be tough unless you’re doing this project for some altruistic reason (stop right now if you are). Angel investment can work well because they’ll be hands off and look less at the business model of things.
Keep getting fired up and asking questions. If you want it bad enough, you’re going to get it.
I am trying to get ideas for consolidating and editing information for my company. We have many field personnel that need access to information about the work sites they go to. Right now we use spreadsheets and emails to convey the info. I thought about having a database app developed specificly for my company that would allow the guys to not only view the job information, but edit it as well.
Right on – this could definitely help. You may, however, want to explore something like Google Docs on the Google web app before going fully into your own custom app build. Google’s app does a really great job at being able to work on the phone, then seamlessly integrates to your Google account so you can access it at your computer, on your phone, and with other people, and in real time. Your team can get started on this tomorrow (it’s all free) and see how you like it. If it’s something you like and are using a lot, then you should look into a custom solution.
Hope that helps.
i have some great game ideas, right now me and my friends are on the first stage which is writing details like (click this, that will happen) . my first question is what will be considered a low-end up game or what will be consider a high-end game? and as you said once you put all the details together you post it on elance, what will be price range for that? and how do i check their process that make sure they are doing excatly what i want. and last question is what if they stole my idea…how to prevent that? i know it’s alot of questions 🙂 it will be very nice of you to help me out. thank you.
Here are the answers to your questions:
1. A low end game would be something like tic tac toe or whatever – few levels, basic game play, minimal integrations of user experience or in-app purchases/upgrades. A high end game is anything like Angry Birds (100s of levels) to Call of Duty or something like that. Angry Birds being a high end 2D game and Call of Duty being a high end 3D game. Obviously there is an enormous scope here, so this description is very hard to do.
2. Well a simple tic tac toe game would probably be about $500. A multi leveled game like a basic version of angry birds would be about $10K – add on 50 levels and your price triples. Call of Duty you’re going to need to get off of elance and hire a major firm for $1M. The hard part is how to piece this all together – I would NEVER have the development team design the game, but that’s just me. Developers tend to force graphics to do what they want the code to do, which makes the game suffer. I recommend shopping for designers first or in tandem with your developers.
3. Pretty much all developers will sign an NDA and there is an understanding in that world. You have to remember – these guys are making hundreds of apps a year and they have much less interest in “stealing” an idea than making WAY more money building yours for you.
Hope this helps. You’re on the right track.
it’s me again! thanks for the help, you are incredibly helpful. i appreciate it. also what if i want to make my app become a mutilplay game, how am i suppose to make that happen? do i need create a website or something like that? or how much do i need pay for that? as you said 10k, does that include everything? thank you.
To make it multiplay you have two options – one being multiplay in the global sense (like you can compete with someone around the world) and the other being you can play with someone right next to you. The first you can get creative with GameCenter, Openfeint, and some custom integrations that are a bit more complicated. The second can be pretty simple using Bluetooth. You do not need a website.
10K usually will include everything. The developers will be able to scope out everything you’re getting from them, but I would also say that they’re only going to say “yes, we can do that” to the things you ask for specifically.
In other words, assume nothing when it comes to what they are going to deliver for you. Ask for everything.
Great article! Thanks for the advice. I feel like I have a great idea for an app that I believe is original. Could you possible email me and give me advice. I don’t want my idea jacked before I can develop it. Thanks!
Sending you an email now.
I love the website and how accurate you are. I am a structural engineer with very little to No background in software engineering. I have an idea and I am very passionate about it. I have written the design for my app ( how it’s going to look like , what is going to do…) . It’s more like a data management application. I would like to have it for Iphone, Blackberry and Androids phone and also I would like a website .
Can you please email me so i give you more details ?
I would like to get a price and a time frame.
Sure thing. Email coming your way.
I have a very basic idea for an app that uses parts of the phone that are already integrated. Can you shoot me an email?
Suire – email coming at you now.
I have a quick question for you. A few friends and I are currently devolping a board game and will be submitting it to some board game companies or ( a middle man) to do so when finished. I belive the game is going to be super popular and even more popular among D&Ders. My question is how much do you think an app for a board game might be. Example the Risk app or clue app… much appreciated!
Can you clarify a few things for me? You’re developing the game but you want to know how much it would cost to develop? So – you’re not actually developing it, but you’re essentially project managing this/taking it on as a business model and are going to hire someone to develop and design the whole thing? Leave a comment and then I can give you a better picture.
Yes that is correct,but we are devolping a board game. I am not a programmer by any means. My question is how much do you think it would be to have a board type game like Risk for example converted to an iphone app? So yes, I would pay someone else to do the whole app modeled after the board game. I do however know a programer that is experienced in Unity, but I was wandering if you had a ballpark figure.
Well, looking at the RISK app that EA developed, I would say you’re looking at around $75-100K all in. That would include design. Your biggest cost and time investment is going to be in defining all the possible game play scenarios – the “what if’s” that come about in a game like that. Because there aren’t really levels its more about creating a strong core framework, then bolting on functionality like points and strategic types.
This is a great example of something that you could get quoted out on a freelance site and you’ll probably get guys coming back saying they can do it for $15K and be done in 6 weeks. These are games that rely heavily on exact and logical game flow for the user so you’re definitely going to want a firm that is going to pay attention to every detail.
Hope this helps and good luck,
Hello Carter. Loved the info, some great stuff. I’m almost complete with the functionality of the app, but I have a couple questions…
Hoping I’d be able to talk to you a little further in detail privately.
Hope to hear from you soon,
Sending you an email now.
That was great advice Carter. I am just doing research right now and that was what I needed to know. This is a great blog thanks again!
I am pretty young, but i have a good idea on an app that I would like to make. I was asking my mom if I could have a pet and she said no. So I went on my Iphone and was searching different apps. Then I thought how cool it would be if they had an app that was an interactive ant farm. One that you could change the background, dirt, type of ants, and some other things. After not being able to even find an ant farm app, I thought I’d make my own. I was wondering, how much it would cost, and how difficult it would be to make. Thanks Brink.
Hmm – well that’s a good question. I think this is a great example of how complicated you want to make it and how much you wanted to invest into design. This would definitely be a 2D exercise, but the amount of possibilities would dictate the cost (i.e. how many backgrounds, how many ways you can earn points, etc). I bet you could get a really rough game done for under $10K, but it probably wouldn’t make any money, unfortunately. If you wanted to invest in something that’s going to make it’s money back in 2 years or so, expect to pay in the $50K range.
This was just the information I was looking for. Thanks! Can you email me so I can ask some more specific questions about what I need? Thanks so much. Have a great day:)
Emailing you now.
I have been interested in coding and I have been looking into do it online and some paid courses as well. Where are some of the best places (in your opinion) to learn how to code and use xCode?
A good question and one that I am asked a lot. If you’re looking for the basics, definitely check out the Apple Tutorials for iOS developers. They do a good job at walking you through all the frameworks and basic operations of Xcode. I’ve downloaded some ebooks that have some good information (I saw that you signed up for the newsletter – the links to the right) – but those are more marketing than development.
I’m not sure what you’re learning style is, but I found that I learned the most when I downloaded some basic projects and took them apart. If you google “open source xcode project” or something, you’ll be able to get your hands on some games and other fun apps that are on the market. This can do wonders for seeing the big picture.
I hope this helps.
Great article. Thanks for that. How much would you estimate it did (should) cost to fully develop Words With Friends, as an example? How does the cost change if its for Android, if at all?
Words With Friends would cost you a lot – I would guess at least $100K if you want to do it right. The reason being the logic of gameplay increases in complexity exponentially when you include multiple players. Please note that having multilayer functionality is not difficult, but writing the gaming logic to make that work the way is does is very time consuming. You’d receive a lot of different numbers from firms but I wouldn’t touch something like that for less than $75K which should include some pretty good design.
The charge for Android would be based on how the app is built. Android is a pain because there are so many devices with different screen sizes – so you need who knows how many different slices of images. The Xcode project cannot be simply exported to another platform, but the programming can be ported over in some sense, the way a website could move from WordPress to flash or something. Cost for this may be an additional $30K.
Hope this helps.
I really appreciate the information you’ve provided.
Is there any way you can give me a rough idea how much it would cost to modify an iPhone app to work on a Windows platform? I ask because I have a client who I think would benefit by offering users a free Windows version (that could be used on a desktop or laptop machine) of his $0.99 iPhone app as a way to market the paid version.
I know next to nothing about software, but the app is possibly what you call “Basic table functionality” or “Database driven custom functionality.” The app seems fairly simple as far as what it does (it’s basically a way to prioritize the user’s to-do list). It cost USD10K to develop.
I realize you may not have enough information to give me even a rough guess and/or that the practical answer is to build a new app from the bottom up.
Either way, thank you so much for your time!
I don’t think it would be that hard. Typically going from mobile development to software development is a lot easier because there are so many more development options. As far as price goes, I’m really not sure. You may find some good insights by placing a proposal on elance and seeing what people come back with.
If I had to guess you could get it done for less than $2K.
Hope this helps.
Congratulations on having a lot of comments and interest in your app development skill. Like so many others here, I have an idea for an iPhone/iPad app I would like to discuss with you. I have a functional idea that can help many people with health issues. The gist of the idea is an app to provide information on natural remedies to treat a variety of illnesses. I would like some basic functionality of other apps, like reminders and geolocation that I would like to add in. Is that what you would consider a table driven app? Please send me an email if it doesn’t sound overly complex or costly.
Thanks for the kind words.
Yes, pretty much. It would be a catalog of information (probably in excel or something like that) that would be displayed the way information is displayed on a website: category -> sub category -> individual item.
If you have the data already compiled in a normalized format like excel, you should be able to build that easily. Geolocation and reminders are built into the Xcode framework so they won’t be hard, but may increase the cost a bit.
Do you have another app that functions the way you want yours to? Finding examples is by far the best way to get quotes and information about what you want.
Hi Carter, very informative article. Please email me when you get a chance to discuss an app development project.
Email coming at you.
Great article and responses to comments. Can you email me? I’d like to bounce an idea off of you to get your thoughts on estimates. Thank you.
Hi Carter… just read your article and figured I’d send you a comment. I’d like to talk a little about app development. I’d like some basic information and have a few questions. Let me know what you think.
Sure thing. I can answer some questions for you. Use the comment form on my website and I’ll respond.
On Friday I should have my ebook done and ready for download. It’s about 50 pages that walks through everything you can imagine when it comes to apps. Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll email you when it’s ready.
First of all, your blog is awesome and I’m really learning quite a bit from reading through your posts. Thank you for being so open with these learnings and ideas.
Second of all, I have several questions for an app I’m working to develop. Would you mind shooting me an e-mail so we can discuss?
Sure thing. Coming at you now.
I cannot find an app that i want to use in my business.
I want have it built so i can use it and sell it.
Hi, my name is Frank and I have a few questions. I have a plan for an app but I would like to know the exact cost. Secondly, the ongoing cost of having an app that won’t generate income for up to a year; Finally advertisement. I would like to make it a long term, hands on investment with a small budget. Could we communicate some time in the future?
Let’s see if I can help answer some of these questions.
1. To get an exact cost, you’re going to have to go to a developer and get the proposal from them directly. In my ebook I talk about the best ways to do this. Once you get a few different firms pricing it out, you’ll be able to see exactly what you’ll pay.
2. Ongoing costs depend on the app. If it uses external hardware or hosting, you’ll be paying for “maintenance.” If you want to have updates or any additional developer support, you’ll have to pay for that. If you want to do marketing, you’ll have to pay for that. All of these are kind of up to you, but should not be ignored in your yearly revenue model.
3. Advertisements – there aren’t really any “bang for your buck” models in advertising, which is kind of the point in advertising. It’s more of a “spend this, get this return” type of model. Your best low cost/long term investment is going to be to invest in the design of the app, and then build the brand assets (assuming you can do this yourself) – website, twitter, facebook, youtube, etc.
Hope this helps!
A powerful publish, I just given this onto a colleague who was performing a little evaluation on this. And he actually purchased me breakfast because I discovered it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to talk about this, I feel strongly about it and love reading much more on this topic. If feasible, as you turn out to be expertise, would you thoughts updating your blog with more details? It is extremely helpful for me. Big thumb up for this weblog post!
Thank you SO much for the note – it really means a lot and I want to help you out however I can. If there is anything in particular you want an update on, let me know. I actually just released an ebook that you can download if you sign up for my newsletter (see the sidebar of the website) that I wrote in the last few weeks with lots of up to date information.
If you’re talking about pricing, a lot of it hasn’t changed. The biggest change, however, is the importance of finding a developer that knows what they’re doing. In other words, $20K will still buy you an app, but nowadays you have to really know how to research the developer and work with them. The reason for this is because the developer market is saturated and people will be pitching you $5K for the same job, but it’s going to be a mess.
It’s similar to websites – ask any good development shop and they’ll tell you that they don’t really lower their prices as the competition increases, they just position themselves as a provider on whatever tier that pricing dictates. I will never promote paying less for a worse product which is why I think the pricing is pretty much similar to where it was a year ago.
Anyway, if there is something specific, let me know and I’ll do my best to respond.
Great Article! I would like to discuss an app we are trying to get someone to help us with. Please email me when you can! signing up for newsletter now!
Sure thing, email coming now.
First of all, thanks for a great blog article. I’m not new to developing iPhone apps, but I’m new to charging companies for them, so this helped a lot!!
I would like your input though on costing up a simple 8-bit style platform game.
All of the graphics have been made already, I just need to make it into a game. The game itself is going to be free, but I want to integrate Game Centre into, as well making achievements etc for it. There will be no In-App-Purchase options for it.
I’ve had a few ideas for the game, and I’m thinking of a simply game like a cross between Jetpack Joyride and Doodle Jump, but I can’t put a cost to it as I’ve never charged for an app before (I’ve made a few for myself but none for companies).
I hope you can help!
Thanks for reaching out. So, your question is how much you should charge the company for your time to turn the graphics into a working game? Or are you going to build the app and then sell the whole thing to someone? Let me know and then I can give you some advice.
Thanks for the informative post. Could you shoot me an email. I have some questions about developing an app. I’m not quite sure which category in the above blog my app idea fits into. I also have some questions about finding a good developer.
Thanks again for the great piece,
Email coming your way.
I’m literally turning the graphics into a game for someone. As this would be my first app for a company, should it be less than any future apps I make?
Well, hard to say. I understand what you are saying and I’ve been there with website design – when I first started out I had a hard time determining value/price because I wasn’t sure my credentials could back it up. My advice would be to be very honest about the app you’re going to give them. Are you going to work your butt off to make sure it’s totally awesome? Can you confidently say that it’s going to be on par with any other development shop out there? If yes, then charge them what you think a good ballpark of your time + value would be. If no, keep it on the cheap side and lock down the contract, treating it like a learning experience. Having a client may leverage you more in the future.
My point is that if you think the app you will build is going to high quality and you will provide excellent customer service, charge them market rate. If you’re just looking to lock it down, charge less.
Hope this helps.
great post and exactly the article and ebook I was searching.
I’m experienced in ways to develop a story behind life science communications to physicians and managed care organizations, and I would like to take my skills to the App world.
Love to email with you about taking a framework of an existing App that is underutilized and improving upon the concept. Look forward to the ebook about finding a good developer, the most important piece of the puzzle.
Again, thanks for the information.
Thanks for the feedback. Feel free to email me whenever you want to talk and I’ll see how I can help.
A friend and I want to make an app using the music from the actual ipod. basically being able to import it into the app. I know this type of app has been done before but about how much would something simple cost?
Which apps has it been done with? Can you send me examples?
You have me very intrigued and you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Please
Email me at your earliest convenience!
This has been a great resource! I am trying to apply for a grant and clueless, well not really, but don’t have definitive knowledge about costs. And yes, I’m totally in on the mobile movement! Can I email you somewhere?
Sure. Use the contact form on the website and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
Hi, thanks for your article. Very detailed and with good info. Thought I could dig deeper into cost.. I am not sure where a banking app would fall under your categories; but wanted to get an estimate of how much a bank app, example, similar to BOA or chase, would cost. Please reply to me email address, I check that regularly.
Thanks in advance.
Nice article, thanks for doing this. I’m an app developer as well trying to launch my own company doing mobile apps. This is a good reference for setting my app development cost when I bid on projects. Sometimes it’s hard to gauge the cost of the project because you can have a fixed cost or hourly cost for a project. I will be linking to your blog from my website. I like your articles very informative.
Great article, very informative! How do I get in contact with you? Please email me at your earliest convenience, thanks!
Can you please shoot me an email. I have an app idea that I want developed and want to make sure to take the necessary steps to prepare for the business that it will be a part of.
I think the app I’m working towards would fall under the ‘Database driven custom functionality’ category.
Please email me at your earliest convenience.
Your guidance is excellent on this site. We have an app idea we would like to look at developing but have no idea where to start,costs or how to start, can you help?
To the four comments above – just shot you all emails.
Hi! Cool blog. I would like to bounce u an idea for an app too. Please email me when u can, ciao!
Great read! I had to forward it to some of my buddies. Anywho I have some questions if you wouldn’t mind emailing me we can go from there. Basically all the Xcode is written for an app just need some other stuff done I think.. Thanks again
I am interested in getting information about an app idea. Please email me !
Splendidly written article, concise and easy to read, exactly the kind of information that the everyday joe needs. I too am experiencing the challenge of estimating the price of an app (hoping not to get ripped off!). Would be great if I could email you for some advice.
Thanks a million
Thanks Kim. Shooting an email to you now (Eric, you too).
Hi Carter – I’m working on a proposal for a gym chain and was wanted to suggest to them developing an app for their members. I was thinking something very similar to iFitness. I would value your view on some of the below topics:
– Could the app include a custom made program for each members (sort of like iFitness)? can it be linked to a software to upload the details/programs to the members? Would this add a lot of value?
– should the app be for free or should they charge the members for it? (Gold’s Gym doesn’t charge for theirs)
– can we include added features like reminders, class schedules? what would this entail as a back end support?
– How much would such an app cost to develop and maintain?
please revert via email or inform me when you post something so i follow up with it.
Appreciate your support
Thanks for the comment, good stuff. I just checked out iFitness and have looked into the fitness category for a while so hopefully I can help. Answers to your questions:
• The custom workouts are just a pre built set of data and you could definitely do it. In fact, that’s one of the easiest parts. For the software/upload question, you mean can an individual track themselves via those custom workouts? Answer is that would another level to the database. It would add value, but is not what I would do from a business standpoint – it costs you a lot and you’re giving the app away for free. In other words, you can’t make money on that increased value like you could with in-app purchased workouts (see below) which makes it a bad biz move, in my opinion.
• Definitely free. You’re not going to want this to be a revenue stream, but a way to achieve brand depth and customer retention. There is a huge opportunity, however, to include in-app purchases in the app for video workouts, etc. Imagine being able to buy a killer workout for $0.99 with video instruction right before you walk in? People would eat that up. In terms of proof – check out what P90X did. The first 2 weeks that app was in the top 15 USA top Grossing. That’s about $40K a day in revenue.
• You can definitely add those. You can hook it into an XML or RSS feed and would not be difficult. To have there be notifications/popups would take a little more work, but not huge.
• Cost would be around 40K I would think. The biggest thing is going to be getting that content. I would say $15K of that 40K will be in shooting custom high def video and all that. Maintenance would be maybe $1,500 a month, which would include hosting (using Amazon Web Services).
Hope it works out!
I have recently started an online retail store, AmericanGunfighters.com. We sell discounted law enforcement/tactical gear one item at a time for 30 minutes until either time runs out or the item sells out… 24/7. I am looking into developing an iPhone app that will help our customers have a more convenient method of checking out our deals. How would you classify this app? I imagine there would be a lot of coding involved linking the deals on the app to coincide with our website. Please let me know what you think and what sort of price tag we would be looking at for developing this app. Thanks!
Congrats on the site launch. Just checked it out – sweet. Like you said, this app is kind of a hybrid of a few different models. Something that is important to remember is that for the iPhone app to be approved, it needs to be dissimilar enough from a mobile website. Otherwise you could just use the current website architecture and re-parse it.
In regular language, that means that you’ll almost have to re-purpose the feed your website is using in order to make the app a more “iPhone-y” experience. It’s definitely in the database category, but will be an external database that sends out notifications, displays a certain way and fires of notifications and whatever else.
A quasi similar model is the Free App of the Day apps. Monster Free Apps has one that does this – every time a new product comes out, it fires you a notification and updates the content. It’s taking the website data feed and re-building it in the app to make it look good.
Cost would be in the 15K-20K area I would think. These types of apps are the hardest to ballpark because they could be “done” for $3K by someone overseas but you would be a messy app that works. Or you could spend $60K and get a gorgeous app that’s awesome that will never pay for itself. All a matter of where you want to go with it.
Hope that helps.
Great article! Very interesting.
I have an idea that I believe is great for an App, but guess what? I do not have the cash for the develoent. Do you know if there are companies/people that would like to do a joint venture type of thing? Is this conmon?
I would greatly appreciate your advice on this.
Thanks for the helpful information as I know nothing about making an app other than that I believe my organization needs to create one.
I work for a non-profit and we want to develop an app that can direct people to our schedule of events, calendar etc….informational stuff…
Also we are thinking of creating a fun app that our program participants or public could enjoy.
Can you please give me an idea as to where to start, cost etc.
Thanks for the email. Have you downloaded my ebook yet? That may answer a lot of your questions.
Thank you for making the app world simple enough for me to begin to understand..
I would like to get your input on an app development idea as well…would you mind emailing me when you get time.
I appreciate it…
I don’t think that apple can explain better than this,I am planning to open a company in dubai,which is the best field to market and earn easily?means which types of companies are opting to launch app mostly?it will be a great help.
I would like to know more about data driven apps and data services and their costs.
I’m developing an app that will need data flowing throughout the day, but it would be simple tables… just a set on numbers from a service. Would love to get some more input on data driven apps. Your input via email would be great. From the looks of your blog… you are going to be busy returning emails. Your article was great, by the way.
mate.. you rock. seriously!!
Great article Carter and wonderful information, thank you. I didn’t realise there were so many options and also didn’t realise the cost of it but I do understand the complexity of developing and how those costs can escalate.
I would love to partner with you in return for you developing my apps I could bring in new customers for you. Would love to chat if you are interested.
The above information would be really useful as part of your step-by-step guide.
Thanks for reaching out. It’s amazing how much goes into building apps, but it’s actually not as bad as it seems once you get into it 🙂
I’ll send you an email about partnering. I only partner up with companies that have a very clear path and strategy for success, just as a heads up (and also for everyone else who reads this and is going to comment/email about partnerships.)
Great article! Found doing Google search for creating apps. Highly enlightening.
My partner and I have a unique gaming/social network which features online streaming for a game played live plus an online store. Website is Kampfire.co. We are need of having the code established and the development but we are unfamiliar with locating someone. I do believe the coding would not be a large amount for the live streaming.
I am also researching on creating an app to live stream some services
Can any of these be accomplished? If you can help we are open to any structure to partner up with you or some one you recommend.
Cool website! Just checked it out. This could be a very cool model.
Have you downloaded the ebook yet? In there I walk through how to find a developer that’s going to suit your needs. If yes, let me know with any specific questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Everything you mentioned can be accomplished. I think it’s Justin.tv that has an app that’s mostly streaming information – might be a good model to build off off. Also you’ll want to think about the bandwidth commitments this requires from your users – you’ll probably want it to be wireless only, otherwise you may get some people really pissed that you ate through 300MB of their monthly account, especially as AT&T and Verizon are ditching unlimited plans.
Partnerships – it’s a case by case basis. Your best bet is to develop a pitch and start calling as many developers as you can. Post a job on Elance and say that you want to partner and see what you get back.
Hope that helps.
I am very lucky to have come across this site, your book was very helpful in answering most of the questions I had about app development. I would like to talk further if it is possible, as I have a few questions of my own. I am affiliated with a start-up and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Glad you found the book helpful. I’ll shoot you an email now.
I am very interested in learning more about developing an app, particularly one that would need to use a GPS locater. I would really like to speak with you more about the development of this application.
Cool. I’ll email you. Make sure you read through the ebook I have so that you can get all the bases covered and we can talk specifics.
I found your insight, very useful, would like to see if you would e-mail me about apartner ship. I have not found one an app, Like the one I have came up with. Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks stephen
I am doing a class assignment and found your information real helpful
Thanks a lot,
I am very interested in reading your article , the all thing i need is an apps developer. i want some one can build an apps base on my i deal.
can you help me do this
thanks and hope to hear some thing from you soon
I have created an app. and have a great business plan for it. email me and we can discuss it.
Please email me at your earliest convenience to discuss my project.
How does a person protect their idea before during and after development?
Well, during development, you can protect your idea by having the firm sign an NDA. This will protect you legally from their discussing your idea or using the code they write for you elsewhere. Most firms should have one handy, otherwise you can get one generically off the web.
After development is more of an intellectual property issue. You can trademark names and graphics, but as far as I know, it’s going to be very hard to patent specific functionality unless it’s a proprietary SDK (like if you created software that someone could install into their app). You can’t patent something like “birds flying into structures in a mobile game” at this point because it’s just such a wide net. But that may change and if anyone knows more about that issue, please comment.
Bottom line is that it depends on the app. No matter what if you create a winning app, someone’s going to copy it. If they make one that’s better than yours and steal your market share….that’s just kind of how it goes, isn’t it 🙂
Thanks for reading,
honestly i have a great idea and no money how do you market an idea with no money to back it. i believe this to be one of those ones where you ask why didn’t i think of that. please help any way you can i wouldn’t mind selling the idea either.
I am looking for apps to invest in. We have all the funds needed, just need a few good ideas. We’re willing to pay people for ideas or give them a percentage of sales.
e-mail me email@example.com
You guys should add a print option to this website so we can print all the good articles.
Very Interesting information.It is very nice to know about the apps. because I am really crazy for knew about Application. Thanks for great information.
Well compared to some of these posts I am the least important. Wow someone with money just wanting to invest in apps. People wanting to partner with you, whose money do you turn down first? I am a chiropractor and just want to see if there is an app out there for what I thought of just yesterday. Then if not I obviously do not know where to go next but if a viable option would entertain any of your input. Sincerely, jay
Hey Dr. Brown,
No one least important here! Ha. But seriously, when you say you want to invest in apps, do you mean you want to develop one or partner with someone already making one? Or something different all together?
Let me know and I’ll see if I can help you out.
GREAT ARTICLE!! I sent an email! LET’S WORK!!
Great article – we are web/app developers and your article has helped us articulate the process to potential clients! One of most well written pieces I’ve come across. Thanks! Dan
Hey Dan – awesome! Glad I could help.
Hi. I’m John Perkins (not the author). I want to make (well, have made) an app that boils down to the user paying either on a per-question basis or for a set amount of time, say unlimited questions for 30 min. I’d like the app to be free, but questions/chats to be available as in-app purchases. As a secondary function, I’d like the user to be able to choose whether or not to save the questions/chats on their own device so they won’t lose the info I’ve given them. Graphics-wise I want it to look professional, maybe a bit spartan given the subject matter, but it doesn’t need to look slick/fancy/cute or anything.
Interestingly, I’m shooting a video this week that outlines an app I’m thinking about making for Bluecloud that’s kind of like this. One of the features is selling premium content in the app and also being able to purchase hours of my time.
I think this is how it would work:
User downloads free app that has full functionality built in – functionality meaning the ability to ask questions or email you directly in the app. This area of the app will be locked until someone unlocks it via in-app purchase.
I think you’re going to want to use the app as a payment gateway that then serves up a call to your database/server (web services) and fires back a confirmation number that the user receives. They email you details in the app with that number and you contact them to set up the details.
You could also do it the way currency models work – a user opens the app and gets one question or 10 minutes of time for free, but needs to redeem 5 credits to buy another block of time/questions. They can purchase these credits via in-app purchase and then redeem them through the functionality in the app.
This doesn’t really get into the mechanics of the app, but should give you two ways to make the payment side of things work.
RE: save the questions/chats – yes that’s no problem. You’ll want to save it natively (on the device) and also back it up to a server. This will also probably make you want to have a username/password associated with each account. If someone loses their phone or wants to go between iPhone/iPad, logging in allows them to sync all saved data.
Graphics – I would recommend going super lean on this. If you’re talking about having chat functionality in the app, chances are you’re going to want to be easily compatible with iPad. Use as much of the table view type functions and background colors instead of colors so that you’re not bogged down with 4 different sets of images for each.
Hope that helps and good luck!
Hi, thanks for such a good article I came across while searching how much it cost to develop a native app.
I am looking for an experienced developer that can develop a native App for my company (not for public), to include job assignments board, fleet management, GPS phone tracking (closest unit to job, no need for tracks or speed etc.), push sms messaging.
please let me know if you are interested we can discuss the details.
Hi Carter, I had a few questions about a game that i have been working on and was wondering if you had tome to talk about it ? Thanks alot!
What kind of questions? Answer is that I don’t have too much time (ha!) but if you ask a few questions I’ll respond as best I can.
Is this Carter Thomas who used to live in DC/Westbrook?
Suzy Kelly (Taylor Kelly’s mom!)
Hi to your family…
Yes, it is that Carter. What a small world, wow. In fact, I have to give you credit – it was those days playing Nintendo with Taylor that put me on this gaming path.
I hope all is well with you. My family says hello!
Hi Carter, me and a group of friends have an idea for a social networking type app. We know exactly what we want but due to our limited knowledge in app making we are sort of stuck. How can we get started and what are aome companies that can help us out? I know this is a very broad question, but any information will help.
I’ll follow up with an email but also wanted to let everyone else know the answer to this. You have a few options:
1. You work with a larger development company that tends to have a dedicated project manager assigned to your app. They are very much used to people who have no idea and not sure what to do and will guide you through the process. If you work with an overseas firm, they will be much more of a “here’s your deliverable, do you like it?” whereas someone domestic will be more of a partner and can provide insights and recommendations. It’s just a matter of budget.
No matter what, make sure you ask them questions along the way (and during the proposal process) that follow what I have in my ebook. Things like “Do you think this is the right way to build this?” are worth more than you can imagine in the long term.
The biggest downside to this is obviously cost. The other downside can be time – when you work with someone as a partner, things tend to get drawn out because your interactions with them are less about deliverables and more about discussions. It’s kind of how meetings can be very important in an office or they can just be a waste of time.
2. You hire a really skilled developer who has equity in the company. This is much harder to find but can be incredible if it works. This person will build the core project, make changed and recommendations on the fly, and essentially take the project and run with it. They’ll source out work that they can’t do or need help with.
Finding someone like this is a gold mine. Elance is a great place to start (www.elance.com) or Odesk.
3. You hire someone who has gone through the process a dozen times and can give you strategic and executional advice on any part of the process. Check out my “About” section and read the iPhone App Consulting section. I’m not trying to sell myself right now, just giving you an idea of what you can have. You essentially “hire” a strategic partner.
Hope that helps!
Also a reply via email would be acceptable 🙂
My name is Taylor and I am working on a school project, we are executing a feasibility study on the development of an app. This app would be for educational institutions, like the University of Oregon. It would be very similar to the Blackboard, Inc. app, “Mobile Learn”. I find the app very useful and my team and I are trying to make a similar app that would notify you of everything you need to do. We are trying to emphasize on the ease of use, something simple and very user friendly. I was hoping you could tell me where I can do some market research, finding out what kind of competitors we would be up against, how big the market is, what kind of risks are associated when entering this market (etc.). Any and all of your help would be much appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you!
Your best bet for competitive research is a good old guess and check in the app store. Type in some keywords associated with your app and look at the ones with the most reviews. You’ll get a sense of how big the market is based on how many results come back.
You’ll also assume that most of these apps are in the education category. If you want a great idea of how big that market is, check out the article I posted a few days ago on my Facebook page .
You can also type in the app name to a site like http://www.applyzer.com to see how those apps rank in every country’s store. That’s great for competitive research.
Then, reverse engineer things by just going into the app store, browsing the education category and looking at the top 100 apps paid, free, grossing. You’ll start to see who your competition is pretty quickly.
Hope that helps and good luck!
I am a university researcher in health behavior change and am interested in developing apps to support healthy behavior. I am particularly interested in developing apps to support haealthy behavior among people with HIV and also apps to prevent HIV transmission. Because I am a researcher, I want to evaluate the effectiveness of these apps at changing behavior. Where do you suggest I start in locating a company/consultant to assist me with this?
Great article, came across it during a simple google search. I’m looking into designing a game for use with both Iphone and Ipads. Its a pacman-esque style game but with a more modern twist and better graphics. Still will be a traditional 2D game. Ive been getting quotes from anywhere from $5k-$120k….. any ideas of which seems more legit?? Thanks.
That’s really hard to say just based on the numbers. I’d have to check out the proposals to see what you’re working with. Usually I go with the companies that have the best customer service and ask all the right questions, then think about price second. I figure if I make an awesome app it will pay for the extra cost, you know?
If you want me to look at those proposals, I’m happy to take a look and give you some quick feedback. Just let me know.
Yeasts I’ll send the proposal. Send me an email and I’ll forward the idea to you.
I found your article very helpful, i have also conducted my own research. Although i am still left with a few questions when trying to locate good developers for my specific idea. I would really appreciate if you could shoot me an email in regards to this. Thanks!
I recently came up with an idea for an app\program and found your article very informitive. I would really enjoy discussing how to further my idea and really make it a reality.
Hi, I have had a very good idea for an app, that I’m certain would be a hit if it could be created, I had some interest at an IT conference I visited but couldn’t secure anything. Problem is I’m 18 finishing my A-Levels and off to study Law at Uni next year. I can invest a couple of hundred pounds but it’s quite complex. Where would you suggest I go from here, what I really need is an app producer willing to take a small fee up front then split the profits. If you or anyone is willing to discuss please email me: Foxstopher@Yahoo.co.uk
Do you know a good program to make aps on, who cost under 1000 dollars?
-sry my bad english
It’s really awesome article. Cleared many doubts from me. I work for Mobimedia. My Roles involves taking care all the testing activities, setting up the processes to cater testing quality improvement. Getting to know the new things about Mobile platform development. We here at MobiMedia works for Mobile Application Development on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Symbian, Java. Our main domain focus is on B2B and B2C.
We are working on Following technologies.
1. iPhone Mobile Application Development
2. Android Mobile Application Development
3. BlackBerry Mobile Application Development
4. HTML 5 (PhoneGap, Sencha Touch, Titanium) Application Development
5. Windows Phone 7 Application Development
Some of highlights:
1. Quality work.
2. On time Delivery.
3. Features enhancement help.
4. Separate QA division which looks after quality of the apps.
If you need any details Catch me on skype: somashekharsajjan or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi, I have an idea fr an app. Not sure where to start. I have called about 10 different companies and have yet to receive a call back. Any suggestions?
I would suggest bidding on Elance for your job – you’re guaranteed to get some quotes and conversations with developers. Most of them will be international, but you can filter it down whatever region you want.
In the next week or two I’m actually doing some video interviews with developers where I’m going to have them explain exactly how to find and hire developers. Hopefully that will help. Stay tuned.
Your information clears up a lot of questions. I have a few great simple apps that would be successful and I am looking for a partner. But my question is have you considered a part two this informative reading that allows persons like me to say ok but where do I go from here
And how do we see if you would be interested in our apps
Like previously mention simple google search and best information
Have you read my ebook? That’s pretty much part 2-10 in terms of “where do I go from here.” It walks you through the entire process and shows you exactly how to make it all happen.
What do you mean by if I would be interested in your apps? Would I be interested in partnering for them?
Great Article…I have done some research and I have an app I would like to work with you on. If you’re interested or have a developer you would recommend please let me know!
I have an app I want to talk to you about to see if you might be interested in helping making it a huge success based on its potential. I am also looking for a good developer as the design is already baked. Send me an email if you want to discuss!
I have an excellent idea for a new app…I really hope that you can be a huge help to me on…we ca discuss pricing and everything if you email me at:
Loved the article. I am new to app development and would love some advice on material to study. I would prefer to learn the development process myself to avoid unnecessary costs, but would also consider working jointly with an experienced developer on a few of my apps. Again, great article and I hope to hear from you soon!
To start off, I’ll give you some information about ourselves. We are 2 high school students from Dundas, Ontario, Canada. In our marketing class, for the culminating activity, we chose to create a model iOS application. The end result of our idea, was a 25 page plan, going over all the aspects of our proposed application. Not to brag, but lets just say we did extremely well on this project. We are out going and technically savy guys who are looking to take this product possibly to the Apple App Store. We would love to see if someone would hep us out on this project. We are both interested in possibly helping out and learning the development process, and would love to learn about the ‘app world.’
Please feel free to contact us, and we could talk about the future of our idea.
Landon Fama & Jake Jardine
I tried posting this once, but it didn’t show so hopefully this won’t be a double post. Anyway just wanted to reiterate the deserving praise on an amazing article, both clear and easy to understand. Appreciated by someone with little knowledge inside the app world. I am mostly a business person by trade so I have the detailed specs of a plan for a business related app actually, and I just need the right person to get the app launched. Unfortunately I just graduated from school so money is currently a bit tight, so my preference is to find one of those gems who finds my idea valuable and wanting to get the most out of an investment. Anyway I would like some specific advice on how to categorize my idea and maybe a rough price outline. I know you are a busy guy based soley on the quality of this article and the responses. I would greatly appreciate and email to discuss things in greater detail.
Thanks for the article. As someone trying to break into the app development industry, your easy to understand, straight forward break-down of costs really helped me focus on the needed capital, faith, and commitment one would need to successfully create a successful app.
The idea is to have the right idea at the right time, done well, correctly. I’ve contacted several developers and will have to decide whether to partner with someone or just flat out pay them. I’ve even contacted my lawyer to draw up confidentiality, non-disclosure, compete clauses. (Is that necessary?)
Anyway, the most important thing is that the app is done correctly. My idea will work. In fact, in the year 2020, I don’t see anyway how this app will not be one of the first apps a kid downloads with they get their first tablet or smartphone. So why not create the app right now and be the first one in? If it’s done correctly. First one in is everything right?
I notice you’ve got a lot of people asking you for help. So, I’d understand if you didn’t contact me, but collaborating, partnering or just having dialogue with someone like yourself could help make this project great.
Either way, thanks for the article, insight, and introduction to the business mindset needed to begin an app development company.
Have an idea for an app. Would love to discuss with you. Cheers.
Hey there. Good informative article I was looking for. Would love to ask some questions about improving on an existing app/creating a better one if you could e-mail me back whenever you got the chance. Thanks
hi, i have an idea for an app, would love to discuss with you further.
Can you please email me.
I have some brilliant and genius app ideas based upon certain characters that I own copyrights and patents to. I was told I could get someone in India to make my App(s) very inexpensively. Anyone have any suggestions? If so, please contact me at email@example.com Thanks! Mike
What a great article. Thank you so much for this information. I watched 60 Minutes on this topic last night. It was no where near as informative. What was raised was a guy was getting the apps development in India. Is this because it is cheaper?
I have several ideas for apps that i would like to development however i haven’t pursued my ideas believing it would be financially out of my means to do so?
Are you able to help?
Can you give some examples of the cheapest apps to develop?
i was just wondering if you could send me info on who i have to contact with having my idea turned into an app and what i need to do ? thanks
I am an App Developer, My experience is mainly in games having worked as a lead designer with companies like Lucasarts / EA / Sega / Namco. If you are interested in talking to me about developing an app, please drop me a line. Understand I am not really trying to operate a work for hire studio, but if something cool comes up, or I have some down time then perhaps we could work something out 🙂 or I can put you onto someone who can.
Oh and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
I heard India is a good place to get apps made. I’m in Australia . What’s your thoughts on that ?
I’ve actually had pretty good experiences with Indian contractors when it comes to app development. Check out my mobile app developers page to see the ones I’ve worked with. If you haven’t read my ebook yet, I walk through the pros and cons of outsourcing vs building domestic.
Here’s what I will say that’s one step beyond the obvious benefits (cost): working with teams in India can be REALLY frustrating if you don’t know exactly what you want. Personally, I can’t imagine doing some of the project I’ve done without some knowledge of Xcode, but I know plenty of people that have done that. Being able to give detailed instructions makes it a lot more time efficient and cost effective. If you don’t you’re going to have to go back and forth a few times.
But oh mannnn is it cheap 🙂
Hope that helps.
thanks for an informative piece on apps! I am after some advice. I am currently negotiating with an developer who says he will charge me $2,500 to build my app but that there is a $97 per month charge. I have pasted what he says below regarding why this charge is necessary. My question to you or whoever may read this is, am I being taken for a ride or is this charge legitimate? Thanks in anticipation. BTW my site is about helping first home buyers to buy realestate
Yea, the $97 per month entails the following: app hosting, monthly management, monthly maintenance, monthly marketing of the app, and submission to the iphone/android markets…there is always something to do to promote, manage, maintain, drive traffic etc etc etc. This also covers any costs related to the submission of the app and other incidentals along for a very small part of my time
Very interesting question and I’m glad you brought it up. It’s hard to say definitively, but those $97/mo charges are what I like to call “Intellectual arbitrage” charges. In other words, because you don’t know what the hell “maintaining” an app does, it’s impossible for you to counter the offer. Thus, the developer simply takes the imbalance of knowledge and values that imbalance at $97. “I’m $97 smarter than my client.” You get what I’m saying?
A good example of this is with we designers who charge you a monthly fee and if you don’t pay it they shut you down. I cannot STAND this kind of BS because it’s not business built on skill and being the best, it’s revenue built on people who don’t know what the deal is.
Here are some exact answers to what he wrote:
1. App hosting – unless you’re doing some side of server side integration, there is no “app hosting” because Apple does it all. What I think they mean is that they’ll house your app under their developer umbrella. As a point of reference – it costs $99 for the YEAR to have your own developer account and about $50 to have someone publish the app into your account. If this app is going to be Android and Apple, then there may be some small hosting, but I doubt it.
2. Monthly Management – this means nothing, total BS
3. Monthly Maintenance – the only thing this may involve is fixing bugs, which they’ll probably try to charge you for. Watching reviews and finding out what they messed up on or giving you ideas for updates that they’ll charge you for.
4. Monthly Marketing – Definitely ask them exactly what that means, because I don’t know what they would possible be doing. Managing social media accounts? Doubtful.
5. Submission to Android/Apple markets – this happens automatically upon publishing an app. Maybe they mean they’ll submit to review sites? This is free and you can do this yourself or hire someone to do it for $5.
6. Costs related to the submission of the app and other incidentals – no idea what he’s talking about.
What I would do is go back to him and have him do three things:
1. Lay out exactly what these efforts entail
2. Provide 2-3 example clients that you can talk to
3. Have him prove to you that $97/mo is worth it using data and case studies of people he has helped succeed
The app marketing world is FULL of hot air because the average consumer has no idea what they need or what it costs. I think you’ll find that you can do almost everything this guy is doing for you and you’ll save $1200 for the year. A lot of people can think they’re getting good value because they get fancy reports every few weeks (or every day) about their apps. Well, that’s all free (check out AppAnnie) and really doesn’t help you unless you’re architecting a strategy using it.
Again, I don’t know the specifics because I don’t know what your app is and the details behind it, but I get really sketched out when people don’t include details and exact proof about why something is a good investment of your hard earned money.
The final piece of advice is that if your gut says this is not a good idea, don’t do it.
I can bet my idea is a GREAT idea and is definitely better than everyones on here.
I want to publish it on Kickstarter.com but I’m afraid people would steal the idea or the concept.
It’s hard to find good graphic designers and developers where I live.
Can someone give me a rough outline on what I should bring to the developer besides the concept? For example, how many drawings? Do I need to give him/her sprite sheets? etc
Great article. I have an app idea that would be best if text inside the app could be read aloud. It would also be best if you could speak into the app and it would understand what your saying and convert it to text. Wondering if you could tell me i could use apple’s exhausting technology for either or both of those functions. For instance, can text, within the app be read back in Siri’s voice? Can I create a button that when pressed, will activate the already exhausting speech recognition function built in on the phone? If so, would I have to receive permission/pay a licensing fee to nuance or apple for those functions? Thanks for any insight you can offer!
Finally, I’m curious…regarding the apple approval process – is it possible for a developer to submit an idea for a potential app for preliminary review to see if they might approve (or more importantly, reject) the idea based on the premise alone, before the developer invests a lot of time and money on developing the app? I’m not sure if I’m asking too many questions. If so, I apologize. Thanks for any help.
I’m not going to get into the technical capabilities of the iPhone and the iOS, but yes, you can do all that. No, you don’t need permission to use the iOS functionality in an app.
RE: your approval question. No, you can’t do that. Your best bet is to talk to a few developers who have deep experience with the app submission process and they’ll let you know. Most things are good as long as they use the iOS functions and aren’t NC-17 rated material. Check out the Apple developer guidelines for a full breakdown of how they approve apps.
I have a great idea for an app, currently I am in talk with a developer who wants to charge me 2k for an APP Ananysis, then another fee for the project plan, and then another fee for the development and programming of the APP. I am totally lost and new to this game, I do not have alot of money but the APP idea I presented is great. Can anyone out their in e-mail land help me?
Typically this is called the “Discovery” phase and should be rolled into the cost as long as you stay with that developer. I actually think the discovery phase stuff is a good idea because it allows the developers to build the project plan they’ll use and nothing gets lost in translation.
What you should do is ask him to provide a few examples of app analyses, project plans,etc so that you can see the value you’re getting. You may quickly realize that you can do this by yourself with a pad and paper.
Hope that helps.
thankz 4 d wonderdful info, I have a brilliant idea which is beneficial by building an app but cant cover the costs alone so looking for a programmer or developer who can partner with me and bring out a good business. Anybody there or Mr. Carter feel free to contact me through email@example.com. See you over there 🙂
I read your Article…and it was VERY helpful. I have a stupid question. I have many App ideas written out and documented with photos my business partner and I created and we have been reading/researching about creating Apps and the App market.
Is it better to register with Apple as a developer with a company or as an individual when you first start out? I am under the impression that you need to pay associated fees with a company that you can get a DUNS number for and I want to minimize my start up costs.
Good question. I actually get this a lot and I should probably write a post about it soon. Check out the comments on my Silent Disco app post – I walk through some of the important info.
I’m going through the “upgrade” process now from an individual to LLC in the store and here are a few more tips to think about:
1. DUNS fee is actually free for a listing, which is what you need for Apple. It takes 14 days for the databases to sync, though, so fill out the D&B info a few weeks before you’re ready to switch.
2. LLC or S-corp costs vary by state, but yeah you’re looking at around $200 to get it up and $100 or so each year.
3. Choose your company name wisely (at least the display name for the store) – there are rumors that it may actually help with search.
Hope that helps.
Thanks for the informative and eye-opening article. As an individual I’m beginning to see that I haven’t got the necessary capital to have my app developed. I’m an industrial designer by trade but have the ability to create the basic graphics for the app and build the functionality layout. In order to reduce my development costs I believe my best option is to partner with a programmer who will take a percentage of any revenue generated as payment for his/her contribution. I’m curious if you have any insight as to what a typical arrangement like that might look like. What percentage should I be prepared to hand over? The revenue generated by the app is a tricky thing to forecast and so I can probably expect to encounter a range of scenarios but any advice here would be helpful. I’m sure it all comes down to finding the right programmer who believes in the product.
Also, as I meet with potential programmers, how can I protect my idea from getting ripped off? Do non-disclosure agreements and such do much? I’d hate to get Zuckerberged right out of the gate.
Lastly, once an app is developed, is there any protection against copycats? The concept I’m working on adds some very specific and unique functionality to a type of smartphone tool that already has several players in the app market. My fear is that once my app is unveiled these other developers will adopt that functionality, apply it to their own apps and I’d find myself with loads of competition that currently doesn’t exist. Can patents be granted for app software or is it all about being first to market, staking your claim and fending off whatever competition presents itself. Without copycat protection it seems an app would have to be completely dialed prior to launch because you won’t have the luxury of time to adapt to user requests and build additional functionality as the app grows. This would add quite a lot to the initial development costs.
Any advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated and thanks again for steering so many of us in the right direction.
Hello Carter – Id love to ask you some simple questions – via an email. Im a teacher and have an idea for an app that would be an organisational tool rather than an game app.
My tech friend said your
app will need to be written as a native IOS app using the IPhone API to access device hardware (Video/Photo and Audio) and files.
How do I find someone to help me build this app. Prefer someone in QLD Australia
Very informative article. I am currently working on content for an app idea. I am in need of a developer (independent or otherwise).
Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Hey Carter ,
I know you get it a lot but I have an idea for app that will be very chip to make but everybody goons use it 100% and no… There is no any app like the one I want to make , I checked it .
Help me develop it… Contact with me please
hi, i am thinking of developing an app and have a few bids from different developers. one wants a service fee of $1800/month which seems rather high to me. would love to get your perspective.
Those fees are tough to say – what’s the app? If it’s large and uses a lot of server side functionality, then the monthly fee will be high. But if it’s a simple app that’s mostly native, you’re getting ripped off. The more info you can provide the better and I’ll do my best to let you know.
Hey there very awesome article and interesting you mention about companies in India.. I have a folder of about 5 iOS iPhone apps drawn up atm.. It’s dishearting to read that lots of simple apps cost up to $10.000+ for the whole project.. All I have is a MacBook pro and am hopefull I can do most of my design through xcode and photoshop, but one of my apps will contain instrumental tracks that I will design myself so hopefully I can get the jist of that.. If I HAVE too.. I am willing to learn how to code myself but I have been in touch with various Indian companies that are quoting around USD$160 per ios iPhone app for the coding side of things and these are professionals with quality portfolios of previous apps they have done.. Too good to be true??
Well – yes and no. If you pay for the $160 for an iOS app, you’ll get a $160 app. How good of an app do you think you can make for $160? Do you think they’ll spend a lot of time testing it? Getting rid of bugs? Making all the elements work well?
Or do you think they’ll give you the bare bones of what you ask for?
If you know Xcode, the best way to use overseas companies is to have them do specific tasks – “hey can you build X, Y, Z functions, install this API, and integrate the Revmob SDK?” That’s something they will deliver well at a cheap price.
A good rule of thumb is that executional work is better to go overseas…but anything with creativity or problem solving should be done domestically (or yourself).
Carter, your article has been very helpful, but I have a couple of questions. I’m working for a nonprofit theatre company and looking into developing an app that will include ticket purchasing, gps, possible video previews of shows, and then basic contact info, etc. I’m admittedly quite clueless in app development.
1. What costs/steps does the ticket purchasing feature entail?
2. How do servers and hosting costs work for apps?
3. Can you give me a ballpark price I should expect for the whole thing?
Well – those are some big questions, so I’ll give you the Cliff’s notes answers (otherwise we’ll be here all day).
1. Steps for ticket purchasing include – payment processing, database entry for order/remembering order history, and inventory support. The payment processing will usually account for 90% of what you’re looking for. You should definitely look into using a third party system for this and do not try to build your own.
2. Servers and hosting costs are where all the data is stored. Lets say you have 1500 people using your photo sharing app. Where do those photos live? How do they get loaded on a lot of devices? They are housed on servers, which is managed by hosting.
3. You could make a crappy version of this for $10K maybe. A sweet version for $30K. I really can’t tell you exactly, though.
Hope that helps, though I know it’s not a ton of info.
I just want to sell my idea its going to be a great app for the night life I grantee nobody in the world has this idea
Hey Robert –
Wow, sounds awesome. What’s the idea?
very useful thank you
Like everyone else, I have to start with a sincere thanks for providing us laypeople with clear and simple baseline rough cost estimates, information, and additional resources to further our education of app development. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to type “app development cost” and find this page as the first organic search result. This page has been added to my favorites and has been passed onto my partner.
Like the majority of the above posts I, too, have what I think to be a novel app idea born from a joke during a conversation with my best friend last night. She liked the idea so much that she made me promise to seriously pursue developing the idea. So here I am.
And onto the pitch…I know that you’re inundated with requests for off-line discussions, but by taking the time to create this page, your openness and willingness to share information (not to mention your open and honest criticism of some of the less savory developers that some of the posters above seem to be involved with), I consider you to be a credible and trustworthy resource and would sincerely appreciate being able to get any personal input that you may be able to provide me with.
Again, thanks for creating this resource, and even if we don’t get the opportunity to converse or work together please let me know if/what I can do to allow you to be able to keep this site going. Honest information sharing and feedback like this is priceless.
Kudos and cheers,
Right on man, thanks for reaching out. That’s how it all starts – a few beers and a Google search. Ah, the glory.
Tell you what – I’m trying to get some Facebook love right now, so if you Like that page and shoot me a FB message or comment on the wall, we’ll do a quick and dirty overview of what your idea is and how to make it rain.
I’m very interested in talking to you about my app idea. Your info is helpful
I enjoyed the article very much, it was very informative and its always awesome to see a professional help people out!! I recently came up with an application with a lot of potential. However, I honestly don’t know what category my app is considered to be or how I should go about this task. The application requires the user to take a picture of whatever they would like, they then continue to edit the picture: crop it, add a filter of their choice etc. After the picture is finished being edited they will be able to submit the photo, where it will be sent to me. I take the picture and do something with it……… but I can’t really explain the rest openly like this. If I could I would like to explain the rest of the app maybe in a Facebook message??? Its a great app and something I would really like to pursue except I just need some guidance from a true professional like yourself!!
My opinion is that your categories should be Photography and Social Networking. You might want to think about having the photos be crowdsourced for the editing instead of you – that’s going to bottleneck itself very quickly if you get popular. You should deeply integrate Facebook, especially with iOS6, and do everything you can so that you’re not actually editing anything yourself.
You’ll probably want to have a website using Amazon Web Services, then slap on an open source photo editor that’s mobile compatible. Whether or not you’ll need a database is up to you and how you decide to build it out.
just read through the posts and add my thanks to the long list of appreciative readers.
I have just outsourced the development of an app for my business and feel comfortable
with how things are going.
I have a question about game apps though that I am now thinking about. If I had an idea to extend/improve an existing game, could I suggest the new ideas to the original developer without risk that they just take it? Is there a safe way to have these discussions and hopefully capitalize on my creative ideas?
Thanks again for your insightful article.
You sure can. You’ll want to sign an NDA – they’ll probably have one. If not, then you can just grab a generic one that should do the trick. In my interview with Steve Derico (developer) a while back, he had a good analogy – think of developers like house keeping in a hotel – if they went around stealing stuff, they wouldn’t be in business very long.
I think it’s smart to protect your idea, but also realize that most developers get about 20-30 people a WEEK coming to them saying they have the next $10M idea.
Also realize that a golden business plan and marketing strategy is something no one can steal, and has about a 10x chance of making you successful than the idea alone.
I want to thank you for the informative article.I’m an iOS developer, one of the things I had trouble quoting was the price of iOS apps. This article helped me a lot in trying to give prices of apps. Hope to read mpre awesome stuff from you.
Hi again Carter
the marketing strategy is still something I have to get my head around. The company developing my app say they will keep it in the top 25 by using various methods. Is that a reasonable claim?
This will cost me $500 per month. Is that a reasonable budget to support their claim?
Earlier you mention Angry Birds. I had no idea the cost of game development is so huge!!
How much work would have gone into testing the market before committing to that kind of investment and what sort of market analysis can I do to see if my game idea has wings?
With games, my app developer tells me I would have to release a free version first to create interest before I can sell an app . Although I can see the benefit of doing so is this a rule or just good sense?
Carter, I very much appreciate your input here, it is a rare situation and if I am asking too much of you I’ll understand if you say as much.
Excellent stuff above – I have shown your site to a number of people supposedly ‘in the know’ and they think your stuff is bang on so well done with that!
I am currently looking into developing an app in China, and more specifically in the city of Chongqing which has 30m people and counting! The basic idea is a food reviewing app that connects people in this food loving city using various social media out here (Weibo/Ren-Ren/QQ etc).
I know that a lot of the development for apps here get palmed off to Pakistan/India/Taiwan, unsurprisingly due to the lower costs.. However, as you say above, I am also aware of lower costs = lower quality… But in the same vein, I am also looking to save costs! All the design work will be done in-house, but the the hosting/maintenance/programming will need outsourcing… The app is not that ‘data-heavy’, but would need comprehensive social-media integration and a smooth format to show this.
I was wondering whether you have had any experience/knowledge of app development in China and the development companies out here? Are there any other costs that I am not considering (apart from the obvious ‘registration costs’ etc?
Again, thanks for the article above.
I’m new to app and wow I just could not stop reading you article. I’m just starting out with my bro from UK to develop app for sport vote casting and am trying to understand why app would be better than website based voting or texting. Can you please enlighten me its benefit and would it be difficult to develop this app.
my app will need a database and a server on the backend. I was wondering if you had any advise on cloud computing? Amazon EC2 versus Rackspace. Basic versus managed.
Managed cloud computing seems to be expensive, is it really needed? Any tidbids would be greatly appreciated as it sure is confusing.
First let me just say that this article was extremely helpful in gauging the costs that I put for acquiring applicants for programmers. I currently and using Elance, Odesk and Freelancer to try to have my first App developed. I have three designs made and a few more ideas but I am trying to get my first (most simple) design programmed.
I have been looking for a programmer for a few weeks now (I have another job which takes alot of my time at the moment). Every time I post a job description, the majority of applicants I get are either scammers, underqualified, or do not have relevant app programming experience. I do not have any history of Apps that I have developed in the past and that is reflected in my odesk/freelancer/Elance profile therefore I believe this is hindering my ability to find good applicants.
How did you find good applicants on outsourcing websites when you first started having your App ideas programmed?
Such a good question and so hard to answer. Here are a few tips that I use to address the issues you mentioned:
1. Always put a catch phrase at the bottom of your post. Something like “Bluecloud Apps” and tell them to write that at the beginning of their response. That will cut out 50% of the BS right off the top.
2. If they don’t come back to you with a few questions right off the bat (unless you have an extremely detailed job posting), you probably want to turn them down. Good developers will want explicit directions and if they aren’t actively looking for that, you’re going to wind up in trouble.
3. Browse other job postings and pick off the top developers from there. On Odesk you can message directly, in Elance you have to invite.
The bottom line is that when you’re starting, it’s really hard and you might have to pay more to get better developers – but it’s worth it. The best way to improve your profile is to pay very promptly, have fast feedback turnaround, and leave developers good feedback.
I have a couple of questions!! What kind of app is a app used to order a service. (Ex.) An app you use to design a specific product and you then submit your order. So basically your ordering a custom good. How does this work?? How would the owner of the company/ app be able to see these orders…. is there away the app could have a database on the app that keeps track of all the orders made?
So far as I know the before making every application consider the 3 points
(1) Clear about the app idea
(2) Target audience trend for the app
(3) Which technology use to make the mobile apps.
At the basic I consider the following 3 steps and than go further in developing the apps.
Hi, I have a question about an app that needs to be worked into the firmware of an cell phone. How hard is it to get major companies like apple to put an app like that into the OEM of their phone? The app that I have is already been patented. Do you know the address for the apple development division department or their email?
I don’t know exactly, but I do know that they take hardware development VERY seriously. Everything is highly confidential to the point where they watermark all the dev guides with your name and dev ID all over it so that you won’t copy it.
You should call Apple to find out the best person to talk to.
This is a great resource, Carter. Thanks for sharing your insights. If you’re app also has to run on the Android platform, does that double the costs? And there any elements of the iPhone or iPhone 4 design and programming that can be used for both platforms?
It won’t double costs, but it will increase it. The biggest cost increases will come from the new development (Objective C -> Java) and then the re-sizing of your designs. Android has over 15 devices you need to design for, so that’s going to take some time. Usually the increase is about 50% or so, give or take. It’s much better to tell them up front so that they can build it in a way that will make it easy to convert.
Hope that helps.
I have an idea for an app similar to words with friends and scramble where people take turns against each other! I can’t find out how much an app like this would cost to develop as it always seem to be about angry birds or arcade games. Would you be able to tell me the rough costings of a game where people take turns, can message each other, can log in via FB etc
Any help would be greatly appreciated
Hi I’m currently trying to create a networking app and didn’t realize that creating a app was more expensive then I thought is there a way for me to do It myself?.
Great Article!! So hear is the deal….
I asked this question on Elance to prospected contractors: I have Iphone app that needs to have a functional payment service on the app to order a custom service using the Iphones camera feature; However, I’m not sure on how I would keep track of these orders? any recommendations?
I received the following responses form several different contractors with good reputations and earnings on Elance:
1.)”If you want them to pay you or purchase photo it will be payment service implement with your server side / website.”
2.) “The application will have a back end on the server which will be in the form of website not accessible to the user. The administration back end module will be accessible to only admin of the website with a authorized username and password. The app will be support by a website from where the users can download the app and maintain there account. Although the app and all its functionality will run on mobiles and I phone.”
3.) “To track the orders, we can develop an database application where you can check the status of each order and mark them complete when they are processed.”
along with some other responses
so whats your best recommendation?
I’m really curious about how this would work while considering the operation costs of what I have to do to have a payment service that functions with the iphone mobile app.
Once again, Thank You for the Opportunity to get a real professionals perspective on these issues…
They’re all basically saying the same thing – you need a database to hold the data, a framework to access the data, and a way for users to pay you. Without knowing any of the specifics, I would make my decision based on examples they have done before. These projects can get extremely complicated (and costly) without very clear direction – if they’ve done it before, they will be able to streamline it.
Similarly, you may want to ask them if they can customize any out of the box solutions. That might help you get a better product for the same price.
Are you not using in-app purchasing? Can you use Facebook connect for the login piece?
Your blog rocks! Just had a question following up this post:
I have thoroughly worked through my idea for an app that so far based on research I cannot find ANYTHING like it (since it is to be a training tool for athletes and can also be used by the current adult fitness bootcamp craze). I have also created to the best of my ability the exact design that I want (was able to download a few wireframe templates and create some screenshots). I have also created the exact blueprint for the flowchart of exactly what I want to have happen for the app….ALL THANKS TO YOUR BLOG!!!
So my question is I am not sure what to do next. The app I imagine would be considered a very simple ‘game’ style app and wouldn’t require a lot of database functionality, but also NOT a lot of complex graphic work at all. So which would come first in your opinion….to have the design/artwork files created using http://www.99designs.com or have the code created first (www.freelance.com ??)
Thanks for all you do!
I’d do the design first, but the big thematic designs like the menu screen, main user screen, options, etc. Enough to paint a picture of what’s going on in the app. Then the programmers can build the app and you can fill in the gaps with small details (button here, button there) but you won’t be re-facing the app.
The design can also help greatly with dictating how the app should flow and can spark ideas for how to enhance the experience.
Good luck! Keep me posted. I’ve got a buddy working at a startup in NYC building an app similar to this. As you get going, I should connect you guys.
I need to receive and see these orders. My customers are ordering a custom service from me and I need to ship them the final product.
I read about Facebook connect but it doesn’t seem legitimate for a real business operation. What is “in app purchasing” ? Is it capable of providing me with everything I need? also I read that it has been hacked?
If I understand correctly my options for a payment service for my app are: server side website, database app for payment service, in-app purchasing, and Facebook connect.
Sorry for all the questions I’m an accounting major haha.. and don’t know much about app development but I’m trying to make some of my ideas a reality!
1. Server side website – that’s a complicated way to say e-commerce website. All websites use servers, the app would just hook into that (like a button in the app would drop you on the checkout page of a website).
2. Database app for payment service – 4 out of 5 times you’ll want to use a third party for this. Paypal, Square, etc that would tie into iOS for your app and allow for purchasing right there. You’d have to talk to a developer about this, but you’d build the database externally, then use an API to send information to that from the app.
3. In-app purchasing – you know when you see an app and you can “unlock” features or buy more or something? That’s in-app purchasing. It’s simply a payment process within the iOS framework. There is no ID data associated with it, unless you have them login at the start, and you’ll pay the Apple 30% fee just like all other revenues.
4. FB Connect is simply a login framework to make things way easier. You can tie FBC to payment processing, but it’s designed to make logins easier for users.
The bigger questions is – why are you building an app for this? Why not just build a website with a nice web app or mobile website?
Its the the key to my whole business. If your interested I would love to tell ya over a private Facebook message… and I’ll like your page haha. Maybe you could give me your recommendation on how I should go about this? It would mean a lot to me!
Hello i just read your info and it has been very helpful. I have a great idea for an app that i know can make money…the problem is i dont know if the technology exists to do what i want to do. I would love somehow to get your feedback on it..
Hi, I have been thinking for a while about developing a app for the iPhone, and iPad. I have no clue on what to do or how to go about it. My app would I think hit more on people that are in any level of school. It would allow for you to not have the worry of carrying around a whole lot of book with tons of study material or note cards. It would be all in one app along with the use of files for where you label different studies, also the acces to take a pic of anything and it store to the file of study that you would need. I think that it could possibly be a good app I just don’t know how to go about it. And not wanting for it to cost me thousands an thousands of dollars of which many of us don’t have as it is anymore.
I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks for reading this.
Great article! Learned valuable fundamentals of app development.
Question – I would like to create a very basic and simple, quality app for foreign font that is currently not listed in the iphone’s international keyboard. I would be able to help create each letter of the alphabet from that language… and have examples.
Doesn’t sound like its too hard.. How much would this run and where can I find developers in the Charlotte, NC area?
Not hard. You can model it off of one of those Emoji apps to start – build a new keyboard, then instruct users to install. They can access it at any point moving forward.
Your best bet is to find an app that does this with a similar language and present that app as a framework to a company. In terms of Charlotte, I would recommend calling a bunch of firms and talking through the process, maybe getting a few proposals. If none of them sound like your cup of tea, then try Odesk or Elance, especially if you have an app in mind that you can show them as an example.
Price wise, depends on the amount of content you have, but I wouldn’t spend more than $5K on this (unless you want an amazing, beautiful app, then $10K).
Good luck! Bueno Suerte! [insert your language here]
Perfect article! I was asking about the app development and the best answer was going to Google.
I didn’t know Angry Birds was so expensive to make, but hey they got a good ROI because it is bringing in millions!
This makes me rethink my app development, because I did not know the costs varied so much.
Right on. The planning stages make a big difference and you can definitely still make it work. Good luck to you!
Your article is great for dummies like me. I have one more question. Say I want to create an app (or have one built) that contains ‘bonus’ content for my clients who buy another of my offline products. I might give my app a funky name that isn’t easily searchable, or I embed passwords that I dole out. My question: If the app is “Free,” after I pay my $99, will Apple allow me to upload it to iTunes without any type of ‘per download’ fee?
Yeah, no fees at all once you pay your developer costs. They only take a percentage of sales you make through their services (paid downloads, in-app purchases). So, you should be all set.
how much money would i get paid if it was my idea
I’m a student working on a project for my Digital Retailing class and I have a couple of questions about making an app. Our marketing strategy is to develop an app for a well established department store, think Nordstrom’s. It needs to be for all mobile markets as well as for tablets. My first question is how much it would cost to develop an app that will be used at high capacity? My second is how much a developer costs as well as how long it would take for an app like this to be created?
For an iPhone-iPad-Android-Windows-Blackberry app for a company like Nordstroms, you’ll probably be looking at $1-2M bucks. I met the team that built one for Michael’s (big dept store) and that was $2M. The biggest cost is in the database setup and the front end development, then the UI designs.
Second answer is that developer costs can be $8/hour overseas to $150/hr in the USA. For something like this, you’re going to want to hire a major firm. I would expect something like this to take 8-12 months to develop (that’s aggressive).
WassUp??’ Do you know how much is it to design a New app For Iphones,Ipods,Ipads,Android.?!
Yup. That’s why I wrote this article.
Impressive blog you have. It is well-written. I was curious as to how much a simple trivia game would cost to develop if I supplied the developer with the questions, answers, etc.
Moreover, when developing a social media product akin to Facebook, Twitter, et al, what would you estimate the costs to be? I know that’s a broad question, but I have had an idea burning that would revolutionize the way people buy and sell products and services internationally.
Thanks for your valuable time.
I’m looking to get a app made for my hairstylist directory. Where should i start?
Is there any ongoing cost involved after an app is developed and in the Apple/Android market? We are being required to sign up for a $39 “hosting” package with our developer. This gives us access to make any changes we want to the app — or opt for the higher $69/month package with support. I just can’t find any information anywhere that says apps need to be hosted – although it makes sense that it will need to live somewhere. Complete neophite on the subject, so hope you can shed some light on this for us. We don’t want to get into something we can’t get out of down the line.
No, except for the $99 developer fee for Apple. The only reason you would pay for “hosting” if if you have content stored somewhere that is being dynamically pulled in. Hosting = storage space. From what you said, it sounds like your data is being stored somewhere on a server so that you can go in and edit is, so yes that would have an associated cost.
The apps themselves are all hosted by Apple free of charge. It’s the data that you can choose to host yourself.
Hope that helps.
when i load my content on to itunes dose the game run from them or do i need my own server to store the info if not do i have access into my files to make changes.
You can make your app native (all information inside the app) or dynamic (information stored on a server). Totally up to you depending on the type of app and budget.
If you want to change a native app, you have to release an update which goes through the approval process.
Hope that helps.
Great info on the subject I’ll be sure to download the book for further instructional advise looking forward to future communications
i have an idea in my mind, which can developed in to a app; which can be a mobile but certainly needs a camera to do it.
am really motivated to build it and launch if its build able. and i think there’s a gap in the market for this.
so can i have a email address of some one whom i can tell this and check whether it is possible.
Please check the “mobile app developer” list at the bottom of the website for contacts.
As I got some good mobile games idea. I started developing apps by myself and these are some facts that one needs to know.
1) Hardware cost:
One must require a MAC OS to develop (IOS apps)Iphone , Ipad….. So you need a MAC book(1000£). I know there are other options like (WINDOWS OS)Flash to develop IOS apps in windows. But I higly recommend to develop in Apple laptops using Objective-c/X-code. but there are lot of disadvantages in using Adobe Flash like perfomance and lot of ios functionalities(swipe to scroll) that cant be used in flash based ios apps. But in future they will.
If you are developong an android app you need a windows PC(400 -500£).
[And Server cost is depends on the project, If you need data to be fetched dynamically you need Server and that gonna cost a lot(~2000£)]
2) Software cost:
If you are using third party tool like Adobe flash(400£) to develop IOS and Android apps , its convient that you can host on IOS and Android with just one development. But you need to tweak our code so that it supports multiple screen size.
Other than that you need Adobe Photoshop(160£) or Adobe Illustrator(550£) for Designing and Image editing. You can design using Adobe Flash but that will not be professional….atlease you need Adobe Photohop for designing.
[I Never used MAC to develop so I cannot comment on that.I believe Developing using Objective -C is bit complex when compared to Flash Actionscript-3 but you can achieve lot of functionalities easily without breaking your head while using Objective-C ]
3) Developer Licence:
IOS – $99 per year
Android – $25 one time payment
In Using Adobe Flash:
1) As Adobe Flash is created for PC based game development. Developing a Mobile based app/game is very difficult as one need to use different techniques like Blitting/GPU mode/ Bitmap Cache…etc etc to achieve smooth 30fps game play.
2) Need to use ANE(Air Native Extension) for GameCenter,In-App purchase, Notificatio etc etc and that too will be supported by IOS 5 and above.
3) No Touch and Drag support.
4) Need too much time in developing.
5) One must need a designer to develop professional app. And designing a App icon alone costs $500 atleast. Whole app designing may cost around $4000-5000 atleast.
6) Some game needs animation and some deisgners cant do animation. So you need to hire a Animation designer ($1000 – 3000).
7) Developing for Multiple Screen size support is another headache.
8) Using a framework might help in some aspects , again you need to spend lot of times in learning about the framework.
9) Errors and Bug Fixing, Some times you will stuck with a error for a long time.Will make you frustrated and despair.Development Experience plays a BIG role here.
10) IOS Upgrade and AIR upgrades. When Apple released IOS 6, My app worked wierdly. So I upgraded AIR and Hosted the app gain and now it works fine.
11) For Testing you need to buy ipad, iphone and android devices to test your app and that will cost you lot.
And you may come across too many hurdles….but no worries where there is a problem there is a solution……and where there is a solution there is a better solution……
After a year My app development is almost done and im planning to host my game in android and ios market soon. The app/game name is “Hangman 2030”.
Best of Luck.
Thanks for all this great information.
Two questions, what do you think a game similar to Friut Ninja would cost to develop?
Also, how difficult/expensive is it to make a function on the app that would count different task accomplished and put all the information into a tally (Only for people on game centre). E.g A tally of the number of apples sliced in Fruit Ninja from all of the people using it (that are on game centre).
Check out my app Coconut Craze (http://bit.ly/ZRfWDB) – is this what you’re talking about? I built this for about $800 total.
It would probably cost an extra $300-400 to add that, assuming the code is written the way my app is. You’d create a new leaderboard for a specific fruit sliced in Game Center. That way the OpenGL would register which fruit is sliced, record it to the Game Center board, and you’d have a list of the # of sliced fruit tied to your game center account. You could create as many as you want (like a new board for each fruit).
Thanks for the amazing post .
I dont know anything about developing programs or apps etc but i was just surfing the net out of curiosity to see how much it is to create an app or game. With that said, i noticed the following things in the past 2 hours ive been surfing 🙂
90% of all threads i read talk about the cost of making the app or game , but nobody mentions how much it would cost if you have the knowledge to do it yourself . I mean , the image im getting after all these threads is that its impossible to create an app like Angry Birds or Twitterific alone(I just used these 2 examples because i read that Angry Birds could cost anywhere from 150-200k and twitterific actually cost 500k) . Is that true ?
In case someone went to study Mobile app development .. or did an advanced course specializing in this field . Is that not enough to create a very successful app or game?
My apologies for the newbie questions …but its just one of those things that will eat me inside forever if i dont find out how the whole process works 🙂
Thanks in advance and looking forward to hearing from you soon .
Well, to answer your question bluntly, it would cost you for an Apple computer and your developer account ($99 a year). If you can write all the code, design it all yourself, and publish it, you’re good to go. I guess you’ll need an iPhone 🙂
Is it impossible to create an Angry Birds on your own? Of course not. But you need to be an absolute slayer programmer and designer. You’ll also have to work for about 500 hours if you want it to kick ass. But of course, you could do it yourself, just like anything else. You could build your own house, too, if you wanted. Kind of a similar analogy.
Second question – the problem is that building something and selling something are two completely different worlds. Publishing and marketing are the overlap in that ven diagram. You can be an amazing car mechanic – can you run a used car dealership? It’s a lot more lucrative to know how to market and sell something than to build something and hire a salesman. Just ask Steve Jobs.
Good luck in your endeavors.
Many thanks for the info Carter
and Good luck to you too .
I have developed lot of games, horoscope programs, financial programs and lot more using Visual Basic 6. Many of the programs are being liked here in India. Also I have lot of another ideas for apps. Is it possible to add these exe programs in the shape of apps? If it is not possible then how can I take the monetary benefit from my programs? If nothing is possible like this and I have to learn new language for developing apps then which language I have to learn? Whether Visual Basic can be helpful for it as I have been learning VB for last five years.
Just stumbled upon your site, which I’m very impressed by. I’m just starting to look into developing an app and have a question. I’m just wondering about copyright issues when developing an app – if you need to take your idea to a designer and developer, what’s to stop them developing your idea without you? Is there any way to protect it before you approach the developers?
Very nice article. Very informative with vital links. I am just starting into these and the article cleared a lot of doubts and apprehensions. Good Job.
Very nice and clear article for someone like me who just had a thought in my mind about a app and the first website to view regarding info which is very encouraging.
Me and my team are thinking of building a nonprofit app for non-organ donors. The way that the app works is a potential donor downloads the app from their respective app store. The donor would then open the app and register to be a donor. With a new registration comes an automatic application profile that is created for each new donor. The homepage of this profile will contain various widgets such as “Connect With Your School”, “Quick Facts”, “About DLA”, and “Your State”. Each of these widgets contains pertinent information about registration, what it means to become a donor, and ways in which a donor can get connected.
what is a ballpark price for an app like this. With a sharing capability where people can share on FB, twitter and so on.
Hard to say. It sounds like this might be a better website/HTML5 app than iOS and Android app. A large majority of the cost will be in the database.
Ballpark price would be $50-75K if you develop in the USA (which I would definitely recommend for something like this).
I have an app. idea with a friend, we have 0 experience and would be will to sell the idea. Is there anybody out there that buys ideas? How do I protect myself from having my our idea stolen while shopping it around? I liked this page on FB and have enjoyed the Info. Thanks in advance.
Check out these guys – might be what you’re looking for. http://applits.com/
Here’s a great book about IP with apps if you’re interested as well. http://amzn.to/Ojacix
I am awaiting a project rate with milestones for a mobile site and app Minimum Viable Product. The purpose is for users to create new locations on a map, upload video content and share with friends on a socialmedia/citysearch website… The idea is very much in line with Yelp.
What would you anticipate a venture like this costing? Are there any particular questions you would have me ask at our next meeting? Thank you!
Super hard to determine a cost without getting into more detail. A few questions for you to ask would be to see work that’s similar to the technology you want to build, or at least get a solid understanding that they know how it works. Basically you should walk out of there with them saying things that make you say “yes, these guys know exactly where to start.” If they do the “we can do anything, we’ll figure it out” type talking – run.
Thanks for the detailed article. I am trying to estimate the database and related costs as a percentage of revenue for successful mobile apps – typically games.
Could you give me an idea of a benchmark for this?
Thanks in advance.
I wish I did, but it’s so hard to model that kind of financial forecast. Your best bet is to try to get historical data from similar database style apps and then apply the model using that as a base. Typically if you have a database, you’re looking to acquire users for long term usage, so you can build it as a Cost per Acquisition model (instead of a cost per install model).
Good luck to you.
I have an app idea that pertains to the Kindle devices sold through Amazon. Is there a particular add development company that you would recommend that might also entertain an equity stake in exchange for producing the app? It is not a game app. It is an app that will pull from the info Kindle owner’s have downloaded. It has great potential but would be limited to the Kindle market.
I don’t know any off hand. It’s really hard to find someone who will build your app then share the success (if it’s successful at all). My advice is that if you can put together a really solid business model that’s focused on marketing, you can pretty much walk into any development shop and pitch them on a split.
Then again, if you could guarantee success, you’d probably want to build it yourself, right?
You see the problem here.
I would like to get information on what steps I need to take to create a iphone app to promote varies artist from my music group? I wanted to sell it for 5 dollars(4.99) and it would just be a stream of latest songs/videos,showcase events,and a bio of the RoundTable brand.i do understand apple Charles a yearly fee of 99.00 dollars and also gets 30% of each sale of the app. I would just like to know who do I go to to start the process of creating a iphone app.
I have had an idea for almost a year. I have done a project on this game idea for school recently and my teacher said it would make an excellent educational fun game for every age.
Do you personally think I should pay & hire a developer (programmer/contractor) to create the game for me Ie: ISIS a company out of India. Or do you think I should send my idea through a site like medlmobile.com (“app incubator) you basically send them your idea and then they get it created for you and then I would get a portion of the revenue.
What do you think? Im still torn in between the two. Maybe you have some suggestions for me?
Thanks for your time! Looking forward to hear from you.
Thanks so much for the very informative article. It gave me a lot of insight about the app building process. I am a foreign language teacher and know nothing about building an app, but thought of an idea for an app through my passion for yoga. I really don’t know anything about where to begin or to see even if my idea is a good one. How do I even begin the process and get opinions without giving out too much information about my idea to other people? Is this something that I should be concerned about? Any advice you may have on how to proceed would be great.
what do you think about the app builders like mobile roadie is it worth it you dont even get to keep your app you have yo be paying them a monthly fee that sucks
great info thanks again for the article
Your post has been extremely helpful to and I appreciate you for sharing your knowledge and being so responsive.
I am looking to work with a developer on an app but I have no idea what would be a reasonable cost. The app will offer financial education videos that are specific to my company. The beginners level would be free, with more advanced videos being offered at a premium. Any idea how much something like this could cost? Thank you!
Very informative article! As app developers ourselves, I can attest to most of the above. The cost estimates are of course broad because there’s always more you can add to an app, but the “additional includes” costs are dead on!
Will use this as a reference to show some clients if they question our quotes. Thanks!
Thank you Carter. That was an informative article.
I’m starting to learn how to develop apps. I am somewhat techie, and have found that it isn’t too hard how to learn how to create simple apps. It is quite a fun hobby!
I suppose if you have a million dollar idea you would be much better off having it professionally developed, but maybe even then it could be a good idea giving a simple app a go yourself, so that you understand the process for your brilliant app.
Very nice and clear article, I firmly believe that coding is life. I started back when. I’ve been writing apps professionally for 15 years, including 6 years in mobile…
An analogy I’ve found very helpful is that an app costs about as much as a car; it just depends on what “class” of app it is that you want. Here’s a blog entry that breaks it down:
My question is once you have an app developed how much does apple or do they charge to keep an app live. For instance is there any charges just to keep it online and to keep it at the App Store for people to download ?
Its more like just a developers that cost you, in developing … but marketing that app is another budget sucking factor.
Carter, like everyone says, excellent article. In a quick read, boom, I have an understanding of what apps are and what it takes to develop one. Great! Thanks for sharing. I don’t personally use any social media, but I have already bookmarked your site and I will recommend it. I will download your e-book. Thanks again and best to you from Bali.
The article is very informative. Thanks for that.. My question to you is, what if Im willing to do the coding, graphics, database, some advertisement, ect… What costs would I have other than getting the developer account? My app idea is basically a calculator directed toward a specific occupational specialty (so Im not looking to get rich) but I believe there is a wide enough audiance that it would become a great tool to have in your pocket.. What are your thoughts??
Costs would be negligible after that. Maybe some hosting if you have an server side database. If you can do it all yourself – awesome!
I have an idea for an app and on what i have read it could b expensive. are there costs for hosting other apps? And what are the potential problems when hosting other apps. Any advice will be much appreciated.
just stumbled on your site as i am browsing for an App developer.I want to develope a campaing app for someone runing for a political office as a governor in my state,in Nigeria.Can you handle it?Im talking about an App that is accepted on Android,Apple,etc. what will be the cost to develope this?
Want to know how much it will cost to develope an App for a candidate in his political campaign in my state in Nigeria,an App that can be launched in major Os such as ;iOS,android,Bbn,etc. want to know the full charges.Thanks
Amazingly helpful info to read! I’m at the point in the process of having gotten a few proposals. One particular company is from India, they have impressed me with their customer hand holding, time spent and desire to understand exactly what I want by asking very specific questions all before even offering a proposal. That being said they came in WAY below the other proposals, which gives me some caution (your blurb about getting what you pay for is exactly what gives me caution!) However, they seem VERY reputable, have an amazing website and extensive portfolio. Should I still steer clear?
Off to like your facebook page 😉 Feel free to ask any questions, or email me for more info!
Do I need to create a business entity (such as an LLC) before I register app developer account? I want to ensure that I will have the ability to sell the app in the future if it becomes profitable or legally protect myself.
No. You can sign up as an individual using your SSN, then upgrade later on if you become an LLC. It’s a pretty simple process.
Hi Carter, This is quite good of you to have provided – thank you! I have one or two app ideas and I didn’t know where to start – but your articles have been a great help in filling out the gaps!
i want to start developing apps for newspapers in South Africa and i would like to know. under which category do newspaper apps fall when it comes to cost? how much does a app
like the New York Times app cost and is it possible to charge a monthly fee for the updating that takes place daily?
i also want to know how i can take information from the newspaper website and update the app daily?
please reply ASAPO
Check out http://www.appclover.com for Newsstand related questions and pricing. They can hook it up (they are the specialists with that stuff).
Thanks for the information. We had an idea for an over the weekend and are trying to figure out what we might be getting ourselves into. You mentioned the 30% Apple takes, what about for the Android or new Windows market?
Google takes 30%, not sure about Windows. You get all the $$ off of Ad networks, however, once they take their (ahem) 50% cut from the advertiser.
A friend of mine and I are currently considering the development of a game as an app.
Now after reading through your article, the cost associated with games seem to be high*, however if we outsource the development to another country would the price decrease?
*(I assume your figures are for the US market)
Could you recommend a good country or even a company where to outsource it too?
Thanks. I’ve had the initial sit-down with the developers. For me it was more of an attempt to have them shoot some holes in my idea and see if the idea still floated. I’m all too well aware they are biased in the decision process since $ is involved. My app idea would allow the user to be interactive, comment, GPS’d, Bluetooth alerts based on poximity to another user, and linked into social media as an extension. The programmer told me that it will be designed for Iphone and Android. I need to check out logos and sizing for devices, but My plan is they do the work not me. Cost Estimate US$10K. Fair?
Thank you so much for this article, it sure gives someone like me who is interested in developing an app a better ballpark of the true costs.
Given your expertise, how much do you think it took Bad Robot Interactive to create the Action Movie FX app? The app uses the phones camera to shoot footage that a later effect is inserted to to create fun and addictive “movies”
I have an idea for an app that would have a similar functionality, yet improve on the methods a bit.
This pretty much sums up as a quick guide for people who have an idea and don’t know what to do about it. I am writing this comment to share that we are doing what some people here and Carter might me happy to know about i.e EquityPartnership with people planning to build an app. We have put together some other ways to raise fund as well. I hope this article will be helpful for all of you.
Read more about it here http://mobileappz.in/how-to-get-your-mobile-app-funded/
Thanks! Happy APPing! 🙂
I’m just starting to look into developing an app and have a question. I’m just wondering about copyright issues when developing an app – if you need to take your idea to a designer and developer, what’s to stop them developing your idea without you? Is there any way to protect it before you approach the developers?
How do I even begin the process and get opinions without giving out too much information about my idea to other people? Is this something that I should be concerned about? Any advice you may have on how to proceed would be great.
Carter, thank you so much for sharing your insights on app development. My son is only 9 and has been very interested in making a game app on his own. He has great ideas, is computer savvy and willing to learn. I don’t want to discourage him, although, realistically learning computer language is complicated. I realize there costs involved in outsourcing the development of the app.
I was wondering if there was possibly a way my son could sell his ideas to a company who could make the game for a small fee instead of building one on his own.
Or do you think I should provide him with all the help I can give him and the tools and encourage him to go with his plan to make his own games? Will it be too overwhelming?
I think it depends where you are and the value of development cost.
Hi Carter, great article! Very informative and insightful. We are developing an app than combines graffiti with photography, but Im no exactly where we sit according to your classification. It seems to me we are hybrid, because the idea is that people can see other people’s work on the app. Not much programming experience so help is appreciated.
Thank you so much for sharing this information on developing apps! I’m sure it’s helped and benefited many potential app-developers out there. I’m a high school student, and am creating a project having to do with advertising. One of my ideas is to create an app for the company I have chosen, See’s Candies, a candy store of which you might’ve heard about before. My idea for the app, is having the See’s Candies catalog on the app, and allowing the users to select each chocolate or candy, and then being able to look at how many calories there are, any allergens, and how much it costs. Then, they are able to select this candy and add it to a varied box (a product See’s provides).
For example, say they select the 12-count candy box. They then get directed to the selection of different candies. When the different candies appear, they can tap on each candy to see what it consists of, to see whether they would want it or not. After selecting the candy, the description and a button saying “select” or “add” will come up. After they have selected the 12 candies, they will be directed to the check-out page of the app. Here they will enter how they want to get this item, either by picking it up in a store or ordering it. This order then gets sent to a See’s Candies store that is participating in the app candy-shopper, and they do whatever to fulfill the request.
How much do you think an app like that would cost? I’m not intending to actually create this app, this is just for project/school purposes. And if you could answer this ASAP, that would be great!
Thank you so much Carter,
Great article. I have a client with a high-end travel service which relies heavily on photography and the ability to book online, see properties, share via social media, etc. He’s thinking about an app and wonders if it’s closer to $1,000 or $100,000. I understand the metaphor to cars, but what’s your ballpark for something like this? I think it’s essential.
Well, I would say that if it’s a high end travel service, they probably want a high end app. So I would say closer to $10K. A majority of that cost will be in the design. You could get it done cheaper, but it probably wouldn’t look as nice.
Thank you for your article, very helpful. I publish a local coupon book and want to create an app that has all the advertisers that are in my book on an app. Can you recommend someone for development. And cost estimates? There are several companies doing this on a national scale, and I like some of their platforms/layouts. Mine would be on a local level only.
Thank you in advance for your time and assistance.
Thanks for giving me the optunity to ask a question.
Where would you go to create an app with a mortgage calculator and maybe other home mortgage financing information?
Thank you for all the information!
I was wondering if I should apply for a US patent before seeing an app developer?
No. What would a patent do for you? If you have some technology or something, maybe.
hi – if I get a developer to build an app do I own the code?
How do you get the NDA forms to protect your idea?
I want to know the yearly cost of running an iphone app from a web hosting server. I want to create an iphone app directory of the businesses within the area I live. I was thinking the website will host the information of each business which connects to the app. I would say around 10’000 – 15’000 businesses. any information would be appreciated.
Do you personally develop any and all apps for iPhone and use? What would be the time frame of starting and finishing an app? What type of contracts are needed for privacy and related issues so that the app is not compromise through a third-party? Also is there a site to see if an app that I am willing to build actually being requested? If you can answer these questions please reply, thank you for your time, Rick
I am a produce business owner with a hobby of collecting sports cards. I have an idea for an app that pertains to collectables that I am certain does not exist, or if it does I have not been able to locate it. I would like to discuss who I can connect with to develope my app idea. I live in Salinas California. Is it important to be near the person developing the app? If you have any I insight I would appreciate it.
I have a few big questions about creating an app and if certan technology exists to make my idea come true . 1 can you widen a GPS location pinpoint ? Say , out to a quarter mile or more ? 2 . Can you take a piece of information of of some else’s Mobil device from 10 to 15 feet away ?. 3 can I Creat a game application were people actually win money ?
Development costs can be lowered somewhat by prototyping the app yourself first. Your prototype can be sent to your developer and they can use that to start with. iOS GUI element Kits for prototyping apps can be found at http://www.appmockuptools.com
Quick question – I’m looking to get an overseas developer to generate art assets for a card game I’m developing – what’s a ballpark figure that I should be looking at so I don’t get gouged? I’m planning on using Cocoas2dx as well – is this feasible?
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This is good information, as an app developer I can attest to most of what is written here. Here is a good infographic which I think is really good:
Thank you Carter for such a nice post. It is a very useful information for the people like me who want to know & explore the App industry. Regards.
For a nice but simple app, the design work will likely take a designer about a week, which will cost you about $6,000. The server side will likely require a developer about 2 weeks of work, or about $12,000. Similarly, the app could be written in about 2 weeks as well, another $12,000. Add $5,000 for project management, hosting fees for a year, debugging, unforeseen delays, and your total budget is around $35,000.
Thank You so much for great article.
I’m a contractor with strong need of having app to solve serious issues regarding managing, recording, analyzing and further processing few critical data needed for every day existence. I’m positive I have great idea about making app for other folks like me to make our life so much easier.
I’d like to consult certain things with You, so would be great if You can get back to me either by email or phone.
I’ll wait to hear from You soon.
Great info. Look forward to more.
Thanks for sharing
I was just wondering if apple or android is the way to go? Do you have a preference one way or another? Please let me know if you can.
When you say a basic table App cost between $1000-$4000 including graphics, how many pages are you basing that on? For example, what would you estimate an App with 10 pages deep in a table, 6 having a video player (say Brightcove streamed from the web) and 1 page having text content framed in from a website. This would be produced for all iPhones+iPad (say everything only has 1 orientation…veritcal)?
Thanks for your help!
I am wondering, how are these people paid? Given they charge a considerable amount for their services, are they paid, a deposit, or something like a retainer? Flat fee? probably not… As with physical construction contracts where it is advised to never pay them in full before the job is done? What is the typical arrangement? Also, do I find all these people at the same firm, perhaps who are used to working together, or is there a possible advantage to hiring unassociated pros?
I would like to create an iphone application for my small business, but have no idea where to start? Could someone please let me know if this is something I can create from scratch without investing thousands of $. Have anyone tried web based platforms to build applications this way? I heard a lot about ibuildapp.com
Hey Carter – great post. I want to develop an app and I have the entire template, functionality, etc developed in my head. Question – the Ebook from Free the App guys – after you follow their steps do you still have to go out and pay for a developer to make the app or does it teach you to actually make it yourself?
Thanks so much – I have been reading your posts for the past 3 hours and they are super useful! Chelsea
I believe it teaches you how to get into Xcode (software for building apps) but if you’re not a programmer by nature, I would definitely find someone to build it. Use elance or odesk and you won’t have much of a problem nowadays. You can get something simple built quickly and at competitive prices.
Thanks for reading! Good luck with the apps.
I was thinking of developing an app. Its a great idea nobodys thought of at least I havnt found one yet. How do I develop it and how does a person make money doing so. I kno this app would be very useful to the public just about everybody would use it. Do I license it patent it copright it. Or sell the idea and ask for say 1dollar for every download. But they would have to charge a min of 5 dollars for the app.
I have several APP ideas “in my head.” Recently, detailed one such idea to an “app dev firm” and was told they couldn’t help me for less than $100K+.
What about if we want to own a pre-existing App? Take John Marbury (above) who asked on January 24th about “…how to create an app with a mortgage calculator and maybe other home mortgage financing information?”
Okay, there are already Mortgage Calculators “out there.” He just needs one tailored & specified for HIS business, to promote his business.
By that example, what if I didn’t need to recreate the wheel, just get something similar but specific to MY business? Maybe I need one of MY “motivational quotes” popping up for my text subscribers each morning?
Is there any kind of WYSIWYG for APP creation yet? Thanks.
Thanks for your great information. I am developing a shopping app for a university assignment and what i am wondering is the real world costs if it were to include product uploading, location services and push notifications?
thanks for your help
Hello, I own a small motorcycle repair shop in Colorado. I have an idea for an app that will help people track their maintenance on their bikes. I am not looking to make any money on the app but to get my name out there more. I have grand dreams of what my business could become and I think an app like this could be a big benefit. Can you point me in a direction to find out how to build this type of app. I would like to do it all myself and think I have the tech know how to do it. Thanks
The idea i have is simple. I have spreadsheets i made in excel to make my job easier. It has mostly algebra in it. How hard would something like that be to turn into a app. I know everybody in my field would want it
When you develop an app that finds out APA Style citations call me..!!
Then i wouldn’t be searching for your name right name to put in my school paper.
Thanks for all the information though was really helpful.
I am a student who is given a project based on the profitability of a game development company and I have been doing research on the cost of developing a game app (similar to Angry Bird). I am please that your article is very imformative but can I please ask how accurate are they? Would you be able to tell me your degree of certain? By this i mean how sure are you that those results are in the correct range. And if possible would you be able to tell me the distribution of the cost, i.e. they are generally very random across the range or they are generally very close to a mean figure. I would be very grateful if you can answer my questions, as the project goes on my University grade!!
does an app need a trademark or patent?
Hi mates, how is everything, and what you would like to say about this article, in my view its actually awesome in
favor of me.
I was wondering, how much would it cost to develop an app for university uses? Such as keeping track the available work desks open on campus?
And how much should be charge?
Details are appreciated
Pricing all depends on all the features/functions the app must support, whether it’s for iOS or Android, how many screens are involved, etc… If you have an idea of the entire function or most of the functions and features of the application, this helps tremendously with estimating cost.
I have recently build a simple prototype of my app. I was wondering what should be the next step? Im trying hard to get friends to help me test it, but I would like some tester with no relation to me to try it. But since it just a prototype it doesn’t have so many fancy functions and people might just write it off. I also have a clear vision of the final product, so i’m tempted to skip the testing and go ahead and finish the app. What would you say is the best way from here?
I’ve been a game/application developer for the past 8-9 years. In regards to ideas you usually have the developer sign an Non-Discloure-Agreement (NDA) while they quote on your idea. I can honestly say that it is *very* rare to have a 100% unique idea. Even when you think you have one, you actually do not as chances are that someone else has the same idea. It is race, and sitting on a good idea is a bad thing.
I think an “average cost” app is misleading. This is why schools should teach basic programming along with math. Code literacy is a good thing and a society having this might help put value back into app development. I don’t think most people realize how much effort goes into app development and I’m surprised the eco-system hasn’t outright crashed.
Hi there Carter – Thanks for the article, very helpful – Just wondering if you hve any knowledge in getting funding to support the developement of a charitable app? I have a ‘1st out of the gate’ conept.
Hi Carter- I was checking out your website after listening to the interview posted by Chad Mureta on App Empire with you discussing the App Store Secrets. I thought your comments held a lot of validity. As a beginning appreneur, I read posts in the forums were one app is beautifully developed and a lot of money put into it, and then it crashes down the charts because the appreneur ran out of money to promote it or simply did not know how to market it. Your approach sounds logical. Do some low budget apps, and expect minimal returns and learn the first 6-months with them. Then the last half of your first year take what you have learned and invest it the apps that are working or create new ones and use the analytics/stats; trends you have garnered and make money!
I want to build a really really simple app. How exactly do I start, and where??
Btw I’m only a teenager….
Great article! We’ve been talking with app developers for a while and we absolutely think that what you mentioned in the beginning is the most important for the process App creating: the idea!
Thanks for the great info above. I have an idea for an app which is very database oriented, would involve people/offices with access, super users, and will be individually customized.I have looked at some app developers in the Columbia,SC area but a coupleof them have a guaranteed revenue statement in the contract from inception and for all revenue received by my company.Is this standard?I want to own my source code and not have them in the mix afterwards.I have 2 friends I want to bring on board who do apps but just don’t have the time up front to develop this in the timeframe I need to have it done. Suggestions?
I have been looking for someone to create an app for my website http://simplejunk.com/ contact me if interested
I gave your page a like, very good read.
Regarding a development team — where does one come across such a team, if we don’t have programmer and designer friends who can be paid to bring our idea to life? Since I would like to deliver a successful Kickstarter-funded app project, I want to be sure that I have a programmer and designer who are up to par and can handle the challenges of a more complex (at least, in programming terms) app. Any suggestions? I’m not even sure where to start (or what kind of price range I should expect to be paying these people — in other words, how much my Kickstarter project should be geared toward).
Thanks in advance.
You can get outsourced teams for anywhere from $10k-$40k.
For a designer team it will range from $5-15k, for developer team it will cost $10-25k and the combination of both cost $15k-40k.
Dev Shops: $100-175k
dev Shops can develope any kind of apps ranging from medium apps to the complicated apps.
What about buying an app source code? How much cheaper would it be to develop
an app than? Thanks for this and your other great information.
I saw your post and I am very interested in developing your app for you! Your site does not have a contact form so I am unable to contact you, so please contact me at email@example.com
My website is
I am also interested in developing an app for anyone that finds this post. I am prepared with an artist.
Please Note: I do enjoy hearing from everybody, but my minimum charge is $1,000. (Unless you just want to see my skills, then I can make an exception for an extremely simple app, just don’t expect me to work for free)
I do charge $30 an hour for programming. My artist charges $40 an hour.
I have been working as Business Development and Account Manager for Milecore(www.milecore.com). We are an IT firm provide Web and Mobile Programming services. I went through many comments about the procedure and pricing to build an app, but personally i feel we can’t come out with a ballpark for a task like this. Thats because everything app consist of different features. However, developing your application in India is a cheaper option(Outsourcing). Our Start price for application are $1000, wherein we have also accomplished complex app @ $20000 (Including Graphic, Development and testing).
So, i guess the pricing depends from place to place.
Anyone who want a quote on developing their App Idea, feel free to contact me.
Skype – Milecore.gokul
Rawlogix develop Apps for free and split the proceeds fifty percent, this seems like a fair deal.
1) be greatful for info on working with your company in terms of developing my ideas ( lots) Im a journalist not a programmer so you can see where my weakness lies but I am keen to talk.
2) Is your co purely us based on do you sub out work to majority world locations?
Great article Carter. One of the most informative and jargon free for the high-tech illiterates like yours truly. Will revisit this site for more education.
When buying source code (as I assume most will want to do this first for much lower risk because as you say going for games is most profitable, and paying 1000’s for an idea which you’re not sure will work is suicide for someone who has worked hard to earn that money as opposed to someone who has flipped a lot and has a sizable sum and experience in what works), do you use the source code over and over just making new skins and changing the functionality up a little? i.e. adding new little quirks and features here and there via programming so your games aren’t completely distinguishable.
If you do, how many times will you re-use it before moving on? Or do you suggest we keep adding to our source code portfolio for future projects whilst were getting our first done?
I assume you re-use source code with new skins quite a bit because it’d be hard to be profitable if you were buying source code, hoping to make anywhere from 10-100% profit on it and then finding new source code and doing it again, rather than completely milking one with a large variety of skins?
Let me know, as this is the bit which I don’t think you explain clear enough 🙂
Also when reskinning, how should we pick our theme? If for example I don’t want to run into being sued etc..?
1. Yes, exactly. Many versions, new designs, etc. If you do this, you need to make sure you have rights to do unlimited licenses (most codes only do a single license).
2. I usually re-use it as many times as I can if it’s ROI positive and Apple still approves it.
3. I always have a bunch of codes in my arsenal. It keeps things fresh and also allows me to give the APple reviewers some variety.
4. Depends. It just depends on your theme and how well you can monetize a code. Sometimes one code might get you 15% profit each month, but you want to try another that could bring you up to 50% and so on. It’s always about testing. So you keep the existing ones running, then you buy more to test new strategies.
5. You won’t get sued. They might tell you to change design or take it down, but I highly doubt they’d sue you. This is not legal advice, but just my opinion.
Great information….I am trying to get into the sales side of app business. Selling apps to businesses a pakage deal for $1000.
Jason, I was originally led to your site because I was wondering about the cost if I pursued creating an app for an idea I have, however, I think you may have lit a very different fire under me. I am 49 and know “a b s o l u t e l y” nothing about this craft. I have spent many years raising my family, and with retirement knocking on my door I need a plan, a serious one. Reading your article was as if I was sitting on my sofa at home and my son was explaining it too me step by step (trying not to make me feel obliviously ignorant) lol. I am going to keep reading until I can really grasp it. Thank you for not being stingy with your knowledge. I really appreciate it.
@Marla – no worries! Glad it helped.
I’m sorry Carter I called you Jason
We are an India based web design and web development firm. We consistently deliver creative, scalable web designs, developments and solutions that reflect the personality, needs, and vision of our clients. Our focus is to provide businessess needs. We promise to fulfill your all requirements related to website projects.we design across the world with world class web based solutions to enhance and compliment business, develop and host on server…
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I have 21 apps in the store. And they have cost me a total of $0 to create. (Minus the time spent)
Please contact me.
One app to discuss is a remodel of an existing.
Second app needs to be designed from scratch.
I would like to have an ios app which should play video using flash player.
Eg: If I get an email with a video link, upon clicking that link this app should invoke and play the video like “Youtube” or any other video websites.
Please let me know if i can develop this app using your tool.
I’m a self-published indie author. I write humorous fiction. I have a title designed for 9 to 14 year olds involving rabbits, a golf course, 18 holes, a bouncy castle and more, which I feel could make a great iphone/Ipad game as an accompaniment to the book. I’m also investigating making it into an animation and an audio book – a complete package. However, I need help. For finance I looking to crowdfunding but I need to create a convincing proposal. Where to start…
Any advice/guidance/names/offers are welcome
Thanks for a great article, Thomas. It was interesting to see estimated costs for the iOS. ANy thoughts about Android? I’m developing an Android app and have no idea how much it should cost. It implies:
1. Augmented reality with possibility to create and see the content
2. Web services for sending XML requests and getting data from the back end database.
3. Authentification (working with accounts)
I would really appreciate your help. Thank you
I am not a developer and have little experience with app development in general. I am sure you have plenty of individuals with the same question. I am hoping to understand how to find a partner or development group that is willing to help with some game app ideas that i have. Ideally I would like to identify a partner who can handle the development and launch of the app.
Please contact me when you can. I would really appreciate any insight and direction for someone who wants to get into the business from the ground level. Would you be someone who would be willing to work in a partnership?
Looking forward to hearing from you.
I retired and someone should make an app about that.
Thanks for all this great information! I am a young entrepreneur looking for a lot of help in the area of developing my app from an idea I have. Can you please contact me via my email. You may just disregard this post, but truly even just a little bit of mentoring by you would be appreciated more than you can imagine.
I’ve yet to, as others have commented, got into the app development business but have read quite a bit, your article included. I’m intrigued with the process and what led me to your writing was cost as well as risk. I have some general marketing related questions. sounds like design is the most critical aspect. Could you please contact my email address for some questions as I’m getting started? Thanks for knowledge sharing
Can you please contact me. I have an idea for an app that would not only be used by the consumer but would be very valuable for businesses as well. I have a business background and to be honest I’m not at all interested in investing the time to learn how to do this myself. I’m pretty confident that I will make the money back. Thanks for the info…very helpful.
Perfect article! I can appreciate the highly variable costs to developing an app but your article does a great job painting a picture of the ranges. I can’t explain the frustration when people just always say ‘it depends’.
I would like to futher ask questions about developing an app to make money. I had an idea come to me the other day that [personally] would be a great app tailored to anyone that lives in a house or apartment (virtually everyone). I just want to make sure I know the right questions to ask, how to find a developer/project manager etc. One big question i have – I am capable of writing the entire app in Excel based code to demonstrate what the app would look like, how it would function etc – would there be a way to convert C++ code to app code easily and save time and money?
I am a physician and have conceptualized a very needed app. I do not have the technical skill or knowledge to develop it. I have spoken to 3 specialist consultants who all agreed the app would be utilized by millions. I would like to partner with the right people who could help develop the project. I can fund it and others (all of whom have signed nondisclosures) would readily as well. How do I proceed?
I had an app almost finished for monitoring heart complications.
It allowed the iPhone to pick up telemetry through bluetooth (Ultra-low power) devices attached to an elastic strap worn under the clothing or through jewelry or even under a watch. It could monitor SIDs and call the paramedics while alerting the parents and, or the doctor.
Half way through the project…the App is at the data collection development point and my sources of support decided – since I had paid for everything up to that point – to bail on me and try to find cheap Indian or east european, cheaper-than-cheap, labor to do the whole thing!
I own what I have made so far…it needs to be updated to iOS 6/7…plus whatever you are doing….sure, I am struggling to stay alive, but it would be poetic justice if I COULD HIT A HOME RUN with this and help you.
I am self taught, and I am HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF! Please think it over – I have written a few books too, Linux subject matter and worked at Naval weapons Lab….yes, I can do this….
Well, I read full story that you posted and concluded the It’s such a nice information regarding the apps and I have just started in the apps and build some of the iPhone and android apps so this information is very helpful for me…Thanks C.arter
Thanks for the informative article.
I am currently trying to find a reliable partner who is willing to help my team and I to elevate our business on to the next level. We have identified the game application market and interactive books as our next levels. Due to your vast experience with mobile applications, I would like to know if you have any partners or developers who you would recommend.
If you are also the right person for that type of work, we would be glad if you could get in touch with us.
I should start out by saying that I have exactly zero background in software development/programming/design. In my day job I am an account manager for a large manufacturer and I oversee our international key accounts. A large portion of my job involves international travel and meetings with customers. I have what you’d call an entrepreneurial spirit and i’m always looking for new ideas and ways to make massive amounts of money. The idea for my app was sparked from a glaring need that i realized would be hugely helpful to business professionals who travel and are generally out of the office a majority of the time. I’ve knocked around approaching an app development firm or possibly trying to get in as a partner with a firm that would take me on with just an idea and my sales & marketing expertise. Your advice on how I can move forward with my idea would be hugely appreciated as I am quite serious about pursuing this. Contact me via email when you have a few minutes to spare. Thanks.
We now have 1.5 yrs of development into an iOS app and are now in need of people to help with our database management.
Looking for people very fluent in:
Ruby on Rails
If you could pass this around your group to see who might be interested or post it to your boards, we would be most appreciative.
Like to give someone some work but they have to be very sharp.
Does anyone know how costly it would be to construct an app as simple as a song?
(I’d like to charge about a dollar for users to download this song, and it has to be available for cell phones or smart phones/ i phones)
I am a very green Greenhorn and I do not have much money to spend on this, but I think it would be successful if I could make a go of it.
Any advice would be appreciated.
My name is Rebecca and I am currently pursing my Master’s Degree in Information Technology Management. This semester, I am taking a class in Project Management of Information Technology and my final course project is to act as the Project Manager between an organization and Apple in the development of a new iPhone application that will benefit the organization. Considering I know NOTHING about application development, I looked to the internet for some help. Your article is one of the most helpful and informative that I have read so far in all of my research! I read at the bottom of your article that you would be able to provide some further information and insight into the project management side of application development. I would love to get that information from you to use for my project!
Thank you so much for your assistance!
Hey, I am planning to have an app developed on the same lines as skype. So can you provide me a approximate costing for the same. This will be for iphones, and ipads.
I just recently started to look towards collaborating on an app, hesitating for a long time because I thought there were a lot of extra costs and technology I didn’t think I had. I am really happy to have run into this article and all the tips it provided. They are so invaluable for people like me interested in the app market and trying to assess whether they need the help of freelance developers. Another article I really like about choosing whether to involve freelance developers was the one below if anyone is going that route:
Very informative article you got here. I am currently working on developing an idea I had for a Hospitality application and has proved to be a difficult task. Not only financially but finding the right people to work on it. I’ve gone through O-desk and independent programmers and failed to get a working demo. I’ve spent about 8-10k already and running low on funds and any other resources. The engagement with a local developer in miami before he would take on fully developing the full platform would cost me an additional 7k. I wonder is there any way to make a simple 3-4 feature demo that would display the basic functionality of my app. keep in mind I have done my research in regards to the industry because I currently work in it. The full development cost I know is well into the six figures. I will then shop around for investors (Vc’s, Angels,independents) of course, or as a last option business loans. This has been a proven model in the industry as hotels move towards mobile tech. My main issue isn’t the market or revenue once launched, the main hurdle is actually getting the app developed. I guess my real question would be How would you advice me to go about getting my demo made in order to intro my app to hotels and potential investors?
Good day i am a 53 year old mail who knows little about all the things you guys talks about have never even downloaded an app or understanding all this things about source codes.
i have a great idea about an app I know will work and can be developed in such an extent that major food companies would like to have, i do not know if such an app exist but j have not heard any one talking about it, but this app would be used bt every housewife, adn now days housemans as well, in the world’ so i am looking to get some one to help build this app and maybe share income or will buuld for me at reasoable price or patership, any feedback is welcome
Hi, this was a great article. We are a team of developers and would love to work with any of you. If you have any ideas for apps we could work it out. Thanks! this is my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharing the same last name, lol glad you shared your info via this site, I have a question about protecting your app idea and its purpose. I have an idea regarding a social entertainment app and want to know the guidelines on infringement, or copyrights, and obtaining permission from businesses to be used in the app. Thank u sir r.carter
@ Jose R, Its very hard for you to find a freelancer guy who work on your project dedicated basis. Instead of assigning work to freelancer guy assigned it to a web development firm which will give you cost return work.
I represent a leading Mobile Apps Development Company, TechAhead Software. We are in the field of Mobile application development for more than 3 years and have developed hundreds of apps for platforms including iPhone, iPad and Android. With our strong experience and agility, we transform your idea to dazzling mobile apps at 30% less time and cost.
Very informative, I would like to know where one would go to have his idea protected as intellectual property? Also, where can I find a good tech team to get started?
hi, this was very informative….i have an app idea that will soon be an “invention” that is filed via a provisional application. We will be filing this next week or the week after. What the app does the for user does not exist right now, it is a great tool. I have a friend who is an app developer in chicago for a large company. But, because I am new to this space, I do not know what things cost really. I put the project on freelancer.com and I got 20-25 bids from the 900-3,000 range. I am not sure if I can trust these people though. I think