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The cost of an app can vary hugely based on features, complexity and the platform used. Apps with a backend server will cost more, while simple apps which run on just one platform will be a lot cheaper. Other factors include the method of user authentication, database set up, hardware features such as access to a smartphone camera, API calls to other systems and custom functions.
Mobile app development rarely involves a one-off payment. If you have large growth ambitions or are planning to monetise your app, there are further costs which you must factor in such as a marketing budget and app updates.
The length of time it takes to develop a mobile app depends on the size of the project. Features like email authentication and push notifications will add to the timeline, while complex features like chatbots or machine learning will drastically increase the time needed.
Mobile app development can take anything from a few weeks for something very simple, to over six months for something more complex.
App Store: You must have a developer account which costs $99 per year. This account does not guarantee that everything you submit will be approved. Apple have strict guidelines to ensure the quality of apps on the App Store remains high.
Play Store: You pay a one-time $25 fee to create a developer account. Again, Google have certain guidelines in place which your app must follow.
While launching on both platforms will mean you reach as many users as possible, costs and other factors can mean that, to start with at least, you may need to choose between iOS and Android.
One of the main factors to consider is the geographical location of the app. Developing countries often have more of a market for Android apps, as people generally have cheaper Android phones. However, it really depends on the purpose of the app. If you are promoting something high-end or luxury, even in a developing country, it makes sense to target iOS users who usually have more expensive phones.
In terms of revenue, iOS apps generally seem to do better. In 2017, iOS made 70% more than Android, with the consumer spend also a lot higher.
If time is a consideration, then it’s worth noting that iOS apps generally take longer to develop than Android.
People are often surprised to discover the downloads don’t come flooding in once their app is launched. The reality is that the App and Play Stores are heavily saturated. Now, having a good app is no longer enough to get large numbers of downloads.
Gap in the Market: Your product should be something that adds value and instantly makes the user feel as if it’s something they truly need. While your branding team and developers will help you, we do expect you to have conducted the necessary market research.
High-Quality Product: Your app should be bug-free, have a familiar design and instil trust in your user.
App Store Optimisation (ASO): Optimising your app for the App and Play Stores will ensure more people can discover your app. Not only do you need an engaging description and high-quality screenshots, you will also need to do some keyword research. Tools such as App Annie will help you decide which keywords to target, and you will need to read the guidelines of both the App and Play Stores to ascertain which part of the app description holds weight for keywords. Your keywords will need to be continuously monitored and adapted, ASO is an on-going process so ensure you keep up to date. You can read more about optimising your app here.
Marketing: The final way to get more downloads is to put more time, effort and potentially money, into your marketing. Building a social media presence, running competitions, placing ads and engaging with both current and target users will get users on board with your app.
Without users, it’s unlikely your app can make any money. So, the first step when it comes to monetising your mobile app is to build your user base. You should have a solid marketing strategy in place from the offset, investing time and money into your marketing long before your actual launch date.
Once you have a large and loyal user base, you can think about monetising. We would urge you not to rush into this, as too much too soon can put off your users. Your number one priority should always be the experience of your users. Focus on the quality of your product, build trust and connect with your users. Then, once your users are hooked, you can begin to think about monetising.
In-App Advertising: The simplest way to monetise a free app is through in-app advertising. With this type of monetisation, you only start to make money when large amounts of users download and engage with your app. Adverts should be non-intrusive and relevant - take it too far and you may find your users start to lose trust in your product.
Freemium Apps: A freemium app is offered to users free of charge but with limited features or content. Users can unlock premium features by paying either a one-off fee or a monthly subscription through an in-app purchase. This is a good option for many as it allows users to see and experience the value of your app before they part with any money and, if you opt for a monthly subscription, it guarantees you a monthly income.
Paid Apps: Users will pay just once to download the app. Other features and updates should be free. This is a good option for already established brands, but can be hard to pull off otherwise. There is no repeat revenue from your users, and you must ensure your app provides value from the first download.
Native Apps: Designed to run on a specific operating system, for example, Objective-C or Swift for iOS and Java for Android. These usually perform faster than hybrid apps and are in keeping with other native apps on the device - making them easier to use and navigate. Native apps also utilise built-in capabilities of the user’s device, for example GPS, calendar or camera.
Hybrid Apps: Designed to work on multiple platforms. These are written using a single code language and require plugins for them to run on specific operating systems. These are more cost-effective than native apps, as they can be used on multiple operating systems. These apps may, however, struggle with complex interactions as there is a limit to what plugins can achieve.