December 31, 2013

The cost of a mobile app

Written By Martin Sandhu

As a relatively new marketing tool mobile apps are a bit of an unknown. Marketers have grown to understand how websites work and what is involved in the building, design and cost of one, but that learning is still to be applied to mobile apps.

Many people gasp at the cost of an app, causing a reluctance to proceed, particularly when there is no way of guaranteeing success. But if you’ve been struck by an idea or you know a mobile app is something your company can see benefits in, it’s certainly a worthwhile investment. Before seeking out a developer, who is likely to throw a whole host of new and exciting ideas at you, it pays to have a solid idea of what you want. This means you’re less likely to get caught up in the excitement and see costs growing even further.

There are four key areas to consider, particularly from a financial perspective –

Target market

It’s important to know which mobile operating system you want your mobile app to work on, there are some key differences in the audience of each and unlike a few years ago Apple now has a much less of a proportion of the market. There are some significant differences in the process involved for each platform, which will need to be taken into consideration when building your app – so expect differences in price for each and extra costs if you’re aiming for more than one operating system.


Design can make or break an app and is a great branding opportunity, but it can also become complicated and costly when dealing with an app. Without a keen knowledge of app design and development it’s difficult to understand how the design will impact user experience. If you app is heavily reliant on a ‘journey’ for customers, or lots of button pushing this needs to be considered in the design process.

Having said that, if you have even some basic Photoshop skills, knocking together a basic idea of how you want the app to look will speed up the design process and give your app designer a good starting point to work from.


Adding features to your app will no doubt be essential, but each will come with it’s own associated costs. User profiles, logins, payment platforms etc all add to an app and help to make it stand-out. Before going to an app developer create a list of ‘must-have’ features and ‘nice-to-have’ features, to ensure costs are kept realistic.

Marketing and further development

Many people forget the costs needed after the app is actually built. In order for your app to achieve its goals marketing is a must, particularly with the growing number of apps in each store. This could involve advertising, SEO, PR or social media for example, all of which come with associated costs.

There are very likely to be unavoidable further costs too, such as tweaks and amends required to fix bugs or meet the demands of the latest operating system.