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8 Hidden Costs of Developing an Application

5024 Views | 1 min | Published On: April 30, 2020 Last Updated: May 1, 2020
mobile app development services

Are you planning to take your business app idea off the ground? Well, without beating around the bush – let’s come straight to the point.

When building a quality-oriented custom mobile application that helps you achieve your business objectives – there is no such thing as cheap, app builder tools, or get the app in 2 days. It is all bullshit and ways to trick you!

If you are going to invest in the process of mobile app development – you must be ready for all its expenses. And, having a piece of good knowledge about all these expenses would be a safe bet to avoid financial crises later on.

While in our previous articles, we have talked a lot about how much it will cost you to develop an app. Let me tell you today, that development is just the tip of the iceberg. Before the successful launch of a mobile app – there are a number of expenses that you will have to confront and these are:

hidden costs of making an app

If you research and find out all about hidden costs of developing an app – ahead of the time – you will save yourself from surprises later on. And, you may find ways to lessen these costs, balance out and save hundreds of dollars in the process. So, let’s dig in and see the details!

The Elephant In The Room - Hidden Costs in App Development

If we call “Hidden Costs of Developing an App” the “Elephant in the Room” – it would be a 100% true statement. Why? Because a number of application development companies prefer not to talk about it in the early stage of the app development process.

They think that it is the headache of clients and they shouldn’t indulge in the process. This, in turn, leads to many surprises for the app owners that exploit them financially. But we, at Apptunix, being a leading mobile app development company like things crystal clear from day one.

There are certain app development expenses in addition to our development fee that a client needs to pay when working on a project with us. Today, we will see in detail what these costs are and everything you need to know about them. 

These hidden costs of developing an app are basically divided into the following categories:

  • Cost of App Publishing: This is the cost that you need to pay when distributing your application on any app marketplace – Google Play Store, Apple App Store, or Amazon App Store. 
  • Costs of Functional Services: This cost includes the expenses you will have to pay to execute the functionalities and features of your app. (For example, Twilio for push notifications)
  • Cost of App Designing: The expense to design the UI and UX of your application falls under this category. And, It will totally rely upon the quality you need for your application. 
  • Cost of Infrastructure Services: These services incorporate infrastructural expenses, for example, app hosting cost, data storage cost, and data exchange cost. 
  • Cost of Administrative Services: The development of an admin panel and custom APIs from which you can manage your app’s operations, content, and user profiles.
  • Cost of App Testing: App’s functionality check on various operating systems, devices, and screen resolutions require app testing. And, it will cost you a handsome amount of money.
  • Cost of App Maintenance: Maintenance is needed to solve bugs and crashes that show up over time or the ones that weren’t found before the app release. 
  • Cost of App Marketing: Think about how you will tell people about your application before launching it. It doesn’t make a difference what way you select – it will surely cost you more. 

While the total cost of developing an app will depend on a number of factors like the category of your app, features it has and where your app’s development center is located – let us give you a ballpark figure on how much it will cost you to develop a full-fledged app including all the above mentioned hidden costs and the usual cost of development:

Ball-Park Breakdown of Cost For Developing a Mobile App
For Small MVP For Medium MVP For Large MVP
Discovery and Wireframing $1,500 $2,500 $2,500
App Screen Designs $2,000 $3,000 $3,500
iOS native development $9,000 $11,000 $20,000
Android native development $9,000 $11,000 $20,000
Infrastructure Services (App Hosting and Data Storage) $1,200 per year $1,500 per year $2,000 per year
Functional Services (For Example, Push Notifications, Google Maps and APIs) $7,000 per year $10,500 per year $12,000 per year
App Publishing
Apple App Store: $99 Per Year
Google Play Store: A One-Time Fee of $25
Apple App Store: $99 Per Year
Google Play Store: A One-Time Fee of $25
Apple App Store: $99 Per Year
Google Play Store: A One-Time Fee of $25
Administrative Services or Back-End Development (CMS, Admin Panel and APIs) $6,000 $8,500 $10,000
App Testing $2,000 $3,000 $5,000
App Maintenance $2,000 per month $3,000 per month $4,000 per month
App Marketing $4,000 per month $4,000 per month $4,000 per month
Total (Android and iPhone) $41,824 $58,124 $83,124

Now that we have an idea of a complete cost breakdown for mobile app development – let us explore all these hidden costs in detail and find out the best possible solutions to manage them.

costs of developing an app

All You Need to Know About Hidden Costs of Developing an App

Well, if you’re still on this article that means you are serious about your app development project and require more details. Isn’t it right? For the same, let’s sort it out and find what expenses we talked about in the above-table that gave us an estimate of the costs of developing an app.

While you must be aware of some usual expenses that you will have you to face while developing an app like app wireframing, prototyping, development, etc – the following are the details about all the additional hidden costs:

1. Cost of App Publishing

If you are going to develop an app you must be planning to distribute it through popular app marketplaces like Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Let me tell you, these marketplaces don’t publish your app for free. You will have to pay their fee for getting your app up and running so that your users can download and use it.

These expenses aren’t so high, but, the process of publishing an app on a marketplace isn’t free of cost either.

Hidden Costs
  • Apple App Store Fee

Cost to distribute an application on the Apple App Store is $99 per year for developers and associations that plan to publish their applications through it. 

At this cost, you get all the vital tools, access to beta releases, and obviously the option to publish applications for iOS, MacOS, and WatchOS. But, there is another pricing model for companies that develop their own applications and need to distribute them only among their employees.

For this situation, the cost is $299 per year that includes some extra enterprise-focused benefits. Also, the Apple app store charges a 15% transaction fee for your app services (if you sell products, in-app purchases, subscriptions, etc.).

  • Google Play Store Fee

It charges a one-time expense of $25 for the registration of a Developer account on Google Play. Obviously, we can’t call these expenses too high but at the same time, it is not a bad idea to write them down to your budget plan. 

Also, Google Play Store charges a 15-30% transaction fee for your app services (if you sell products, in-app purchases, subscription, etc.).

Additionally, remember that before your app gets published on the application store – it has to go through the approval process. This procedure can take some additional time as well as involve some extra application development costs. Why? Because if your application doesn’t meet the app store guidelines or requirements – it won’t be accepted.

So, you may need to make a few changes in your app in order to get it approved. A few mobile app development companies provide you their services until your app gets the approval, however, others don’t. That’s why you should choose your development partners carefully to manage these additional and hidden costs of developing an app. 

If you are developing an app for iOS platform – the process of getting your app approved becomes a bit tough for you as Apple is very strict about its policies and guidelines. To avoid any such problem – check out our guide on 10 Ways To The Greenlight For Your iOS on Apple App Store.

2. Costs of Functional Services

These services include third-party tools or services that are required to run various functions of your app. In other words, these are pre-built solutions that focus on solving particular tasks and can be tweaked to address your app’s needs. They let developers lessen the time they require to implement certain features. For example: 

Mobile App Development Cost

Search Functionality: If you are building an app like Amazon, Swiggy, or UberEats and it requires a search function so that your users can search anything they are looking for by name, location or other different parameters – it would not be a great idea to develop this function from scratch. 

If you do so – you will waste a lot of money into developing something that can be easily accomplished by using a tool like also called ElasticSearch. It lets you integrate search functionality in your app for $16 per month. 

Google Services APIs (Maps, Places, Routes): Depending on your app’s functionality, it may require services like geolocation for navigating drivers/delivery agents or for checking the optimal route or distance. For all these functions to work properly, Google provides APIs and SDKs that you can integrate into your app. 

These services follow pay as you go model. For each billing account, a monthly $200 USD Google Maps Platform credit is accessible that consequently applies to every qualified account. Once you use this credit, they charge you as per your usage ($2-$40 per month).

Push Notifications and SMS:  Today, it’s difficult to think about an application that doesn’t have this essential feature. Push Notifications are known to increase app engagement rate and to excite users for taking the desired action like a purchase or movie tickets booking. If you want to integrate this feature into your app, you will require a service like UrbanAirship or PushWoosh which will cost you around $2K every year. 

Video and Audio Calls: If you are planning to build a video chat or video conferencing application, you will require a tool called WebRTC to streamline video and audio calls in the app. 

The pricing of WebRTC follows a pay-as-you-go model with no upfront cost.

Emails/In-App Messaging/Authorization: To integrate these features into your mobile app, you will need a service like Firebase that will cost you somewhere around $25 per month.

The cost of functional services depends a lot on your app’s functionality and features. You will have to pay for only those services that you use. We highly recommend you consult with professionals or your app developers first before purchasing any of them and they’ll tell you which way looks better for your project.

3. Cost of App Designing

Much the same as development, UI/UX design cost relies upon the project complexity. In a nutshell, the more hours an app designer requires to complete the task – the more this stage of app development will cost you. 

Generally, the process of designing a quality app takes from 50 to 200 hours for simple and complex applications respectively. But, if you require an application for Android as well as iOS – you need to work on two designs since these platforms utilize diverse design standards and languages. 

No doubt, it takes 50-80% less time to make the designs for the second platform if you are done with the first one successfully. Also, keep in mind that if you require a dedicated application design for wearables or tablets – it will be a separate cost.

Hidden Costs of Developing an App

To give you a ballpark figure, on how much App Design is going to cost, we’d say about $4000 for an app of middle complexity.

4. Cost of Infrastructure Services

These services incorporate infrastructural factors, for example, where the application is hosted, where the user’s data is stored and how the data is processed. These likewise need redundancies and balancers for security and backup, which include both the expense and complexities.

Servers: Except if you are a very big brand, you will need to outsource hosting facilities from any renowned and reliable provider like Amazon, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform. These services will cost you somewhere around $12,000 per year.

Data storage: Every type of app has some data that it needs to collect and store. You need to understand that data storage isn’t free – it will cost you somewhere around $3500.

5. Cost of Administrative Services

These expenses are the hardest to predict as they will largely depend on every individual application. But, much the same as with the various application costs – they do add up and you will have to pay them on an ongoing basis. 

To name a few, these costs are for functions like user profile management, handling dynamic updates in your app, content management, admin panel development, and custom APIs development (if your app needs any). As mentioned in the table above, we can say that these services will cost you somewhere around $6,000-$10,000.

If your app offers unique features, it may be possible that there isn’t any ready-made tool, API, or SDK available for it. In this case, you will have to ask your developer to build a custom API for your app – which in turn will cost you extra depending on the hourly rate of your developers. To know more, have a look at our comprehensive guide to API for mobile application development.

6. Cost of App Testing

It’s important to note that without appropriate testing you are at risk of launching your app with low quality and that will negatively influence your app’s performance and UX. 

To check whether your application functions properly on various operating systems, devices, and screen resolutions – it will require testing. At Apptunix, we provide testing services for every app we develop and the cost for it comes under the cost of developing an app that we charge. 

If you want to know more about our testing processes – you can check out 5-Step Mobile App Testing Checklist by Apptunix.

7. Cost of App Maintenance

App maintenance is required to fix those issues and bugs that show up over the time or the ones that weren’t found before the app launch. Aside from these, it’s required to set up your application for the next operating system versions.

But, how much does app maintenance cost? As per statistics, expenses of maintaining an application take up to 20% of an application’s total budget yearly. So, if your application costs you $100K, be prepared to spend up to $20K on its maintenance every year. 

8. Cost of App Marketing

It seems like everyone forgets the expense of marketing when building an application. Usually, app owners think that they can develop an app, publish it in front of millions of competitors and it will start getting users. Well, this is not the case.

If you want your app to be successful, you will have to spread a word about it using marketing. Now, how much will you spend? It depends completely on your budget.

Wrapping Up

That’s it! Now, do you plan to develop an app that includes all these costs? Do you have a budget for this all? If yes, go ahead now! Else, you will have to wait as these costs grow exponentially when your app scales, you add more features into it, and because of so many other reasons.

Remember, the growth of your business will keep costing you more. But, you can manage all these expenses well – if you try to find reliable app development partners who know all the nitty-gritty details about the costs of developing an app and ways to manage them. Happy Development!

application development company cost


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