Nicholas Mihailou

Sep 18, 2021

5 min read

How much does it cost to develop an app?

The average cost to develop an app in Australia is $50,000 to $250,000. The exact cost will depend on a number of factors, including the type of app, features, platforms, level of polish, and the location of the development team.

A basic proof-of-concept app can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 to develop. A Small app will cost around $50,000 to $75,000. Medium-sized apps will cost in the region of $75,000-$125,000 to build, while bigger and more feature-rich apps can cost $150,000 or more.

Large corporations can easily spend millions of dollars per year employing large mobile teams to develop and maintain their apps.

Factors that impact the cost of developing an app

1. Type of App

The app type is probably the biggest factor impacting the development cost. Developing a simple QR code scanner app, for example, will cost much less than developing a comprehensive video-sharing platform.

The number of screens, user types, server architecture, and third-party services, will all largely depend on the app type.

Higher Cost Apps

Generally, apps like social networks, video-hosting, marketplaces, artificial intelligence, music production, ride-sharing, and security-heavy apps like banking apps, are more expensive to develop.

Lower Cost Apps

Simpler apps like calculators, QR scanners, static content apps, educational resources, directories, and note-taking apps are generally cheaper to develop.

2. Features

The number and complexity of features are another major factors that impacts development cost. Complex features like social feed algorithms, IoT device synchronisation or augmented reality will cost more than a simple file upload or a form.

3. Platforms Supported

iOS and Android apps are written in different programming languages. Building an app that supports both platforms will be more work than building for just one and will therefor cost more. If your app developer codes natively, they will need to build the front end of the app twice (in Java and in Swift/Objective C) to support Android and iOS. The back end will likely be shared between the two, so it only needs to be written once.

A cost-effective alternative to developing the front end twice is to use a cross-platform framework like React Native. This enables your programmers to write the code once and export it as a native app for each platform. effectively halving the front end app development cost.

4. Level of Polish

Polish can be applied to every aspect of an app and will greatly impact the price of development. The user interface (UI) design, server architecture, animations and interactions, and tablet optimisation are all common levers. The more polish you add, the higher the cost will be.

Apps will typically go through various lifecycles with more polish added in each phase. Rarely will the first version of an app released to the public be fully featured and highly polished.

For most startups, the first release will be a simple proof-of-concept app. This is a basic, low-cost version of the app that is used to validate the idea. This way a startup can make sure there is a market for the app before spending more money on developing it further.

These are some typical app lifecycles, or phases. The development cost will get progressively higher as you move through the phases:

  • Design prototype
  • Proof-of-concept
  • MVP
  • Scalable V2
  • Fully-featured app

5. Location of App Development Team

Where your app development is done can also have a significant impact on the cost. Being that app development is labor-intensive, the cost of that labor has a direct impact on the overall cost.

In Australia, the cost of labor is relatively high compared to other countries. While you might be tempted to send your project offshore to a country with lower labor costs, like India or the Philipines, this approach does come with its own additional costs and risks.

What is the average cost of app development?

The average cost of App Development in Australia varies. For simple apps, its between $30,000 to $91,000. For medium complexity apps, it's $55,000 to $131,000, and complex apps may cost $91,000 to $250,000

The design and programming costs are not the only costs you’ll incur when developing an app. It’s also important to factor in other costs like server fees, Apple and Google developer account subscriptions, ongoing maintenance costs, marketing expenses, and third-party services.

Typically an app startup might expect to spend the following:

1. Server fees

Servers could cost anywhere from $10 to $10,000 per month, depending on the number of users you have, the amount of data being being sent and recieved and the types of services you have running.

Hosting companies like Amazon AWS and Heroku offer free hosting tiers to get you started. A free tier may be sufficient for some apps, at least while they are new. Others will be more server-intensive or gain users more quickly, in which case a free tier won’t cut it for long.

Amazon Free Tier

Heroku Free App Hosting

2. Developer Accounts

You’ll need to subscribe to the Apple and/or Android developer programs to be able to release your app on their app stores. Google charges a once-off, $20 fee to become an Android developer while Apple charges an annual $100 subscription fee to be a part of their developer program.

Android Developer Program

Apple Developer Program

3. Ongoing Maintenance

Expect to spend at least $2,000 annually on basic app maintenance in order to keep it live and up-to-date. In the case of a major operating system update by Apple or Google, deprecation or major updates to third-party services or big framework updates, the cost could be considerably higher.

On top of the basic maintenance cost, you may also want to make changes to your app based on user feedback and usage data. The development cost will depend entirely on the changes you wish to make. We suggest allocating at least 10% of your total budget to post-launch iterations and additions.

4. Marketing

You can spend as much or as little as you want on marketing for your app. Your marketing strategy will depend on your industry, target audience, budget and desired outcome.

Some apps have spent $0 on marketing and have gone on to be huge successes while others have spent millions. The most important thing to remember is that apps do require marketing of some kind. Whether its paid ads or social influencer-driven, a marketing strategy is crucial to your app’s success and you should allocate a budget to it accordingly.

5. Third-party Services

Here are some common third-party services you might include in your app and the relevant pricing:

Mailgun — Sending system emails

$35-$90 p/m with a free option

Twilio — Sending SMS

$0.055 p/message

Forest Admin — App Administration

$24 — $48 p/m with a free option

Getstream.io — Chat

$499 p/m

How much does android app development cost?

The cost of Android app development is very similar iOS development with prices typically in the range of $50,000 to $250,000. When developing offshore, Android is usually slightly cheaper due to the lower barrier to entry.

How much does it cost to develop an iOS app?

The cost of iOS app development is very similar Android development with prices typically in the range of $50,000 to $250,000. When developing offshore, iOS development is usually slightly more expensive due to the higher barrier to entry.