How Much Doest It Cost To Build An Iphone and Android Application

Everyone seems to want to build a Mobile App based on a great idea or to extend their business reach.  The first question usually asked is “How much does it cost to build an iPhone app?”   A better question might be “How much Does it Cost to build MY IDEA into an iPhone App?…Your requirements are unique and therefore your costs will be as well.

Another way to frame this would be “Based on what I need to spend, what is my timeline and potential for profit?”  In other words, how quickly can your costs be recovered and turned into a profit.


  • Hourly rates; Vary from around $40 up to $120.  Theoretically, the higher hourly rates get you more qualified development talent and therefore use fewer hours and create better results (but not always).
  • Project costs; Simple mobile apps can start at around $3000, but with the lower price tag comes less functionality and a greater potential for low quality of work.  Larger, more complicated and more configurable iPhone apps can easily cost $25,000 or $30,000 (or more) depending on the specifics.
  • Developers Location; Cost of living does play into the amount a developer will charge for their services.  The seemingly small difference of location may end up costing you an additional $20 – $30 an hour (for the same level of skills).
  • Going Offshore; Everyone knows offshore development rates are cheaper than U.S. hourly rates, but there is also a higher rate of client dissatisfaction.  Communication, working hours and cultural differences can be challenges which are difficult (or impossible) to overcome.
  • Do it yourself: There are several free (or cheap) tools to automate the process of building an iPhone app.  This is not a route for someone looking for high quality and the results usually reflect a “Do it Yourself” project).
  • Availability of developers; Talented iPhone app developers will tend to gravitate toward larger, more profitable, and/or longer term mobile app projects.  Smaller software development projects tend to be more difficult (because of limited budget and shorter timeline).  Many times these smaller projects end up with app developers who are:  less qualified, attempting to learn on the job, or are using shortcuts to get work complete.
  • Development time; Anywhere from a couple of weeks for something simple, all the way up to several months depending on complexity (and developer availability).
  • Getting quotes/reviewing portfolios; The only sure way to find out “What it costs to build an iPhone App?”  is to get a few quotes.  Be aware that you are not shopping for the same product at a different store.  What one app developer produces will be totally different than another developer.  Comparing portfolios of potential vendors is one method to determine the quality of a particular App Development Company.  Ask to review examples of their work that have specifically been produced within your budget.

The revenue generated by some iPhone Mobile Apps is impressive.  But not all Apps actually recover the initial cost of the required software development.  Like writing a book, it’s not about finding a publisher, it is about attracting the people who might want to read your book.

  • Is your concept new?  Or is it at least better than what is currently available?  Do you have a solid existing customer base?
  • How will you market your app? Initial development costs are only part of the picture, now you need to attract users (and create positive word of mouth to help your app go “viral”).  If that is to happen you need a solid marketing strategy.
  • How will you monetize your app? Once you have your user base, how will you make a profit?  Selling the App, Advertising, In App Purchases, Mobile Commerce, or something totally different.
  • The App Store keeps 30% of your revenues.  That is Apple’s fee, plus you need to account for processing costs and taxes (if applicable).

I suggest you determine the amount of money that you can invest in your app and then discuss your project and objectives with a well qualified developer.  You will see that the cost question evolves into determining what features are realistic to build within your given budget.