The short answer is $1 million dollars. Just kidding. Of course the answer is it depends on what you want to build. However Scenario 77 has built enough mobile apps over the years that we can give you a basic idea of what to expect.

Will this be Android or iOS?
The answer is usually both. However it does not necessarily need to be. You need to think about your target demographic for your business and then do some research to determine what kinds of mobile devices that demographic is likely to have. Android devices tend to trend to a younger and poorer demographic. iOS devices, primarily iPhones, tend to trend to older and wealthier. Having said that this is a gross generalization.

As far as costs are concerned creating mobile apps for both Android and iOS is going to double your mobile app development costs. Each platform needs custom development and requires us to do the development twice. There are other costs that can be shared across both platforms (for example, Wireframes and Design) however the bottom line is when developing a mobile app for both platforms you are going to be paying for 2 versions of your mobile app*.

Where will the data come from and where will it go?
Are you presenting some kind of information to the customer? Will it show a list of options? A list of businesses on a map? Your Menu? A list of support documents or parts lists? Really any kind of information. Will this information be updated?

First, that information isn’t likely to be embedded into the app. The app is likely going to retrieve this information from a server or some other service. Is this service run by your business? Is it a 3rd party service? We will need to understand how to connect to this service to retrieve information.

Second, will your app be capturing information from your users? This could be everything from a user account to profile settings to images and videos. Where is this information going to be stored? Is that a service that your organization has built or most likely needs to be built as well.

Third, if you are capturing information from your users how are you as a business going to view that information? Do you already have some kind of analytics or user management process in place? Do you need something built to do that?

Often a mobile app is more than just a mobile app. We’ve often had to build an entire back-end system for our clients so that they can distribute information to their mobile app users as well as report on and analyze information being captured.

Will you be paid for this mobile app? And how?
Getting paid for or through your mobile app has a number of pitfalls and costs associated with it.

First, is the mobile app itself going to cost money to purchase? Or is it free but there are in-app purchases often called a freemium app?

Second, regardless of the first answers, are the users of your app going to be accessing information that they’ve paid you for access to. For example, do you offer a free app as part of a paid membership? How do you get paid for the membership and how do you setup that user to be able to access the content (or whatever your paid membership gives them access to).

It’s important to know that if you offer a purchase of any kind for your mobile app or through your mobile app, the Google Play and Apple App store will take a 30% cut. So if you offer a $10/month membership and your users will buy the membership through your app then you’ll only see $7 of that.

If you want to process the payments for access to your content outside of the mobile app you can do that but there needs to be an entire platform or mechanism for managing those subscriptions. If you don’t already have something in place you’ll need to create it or have Scenario 77 develop it.

So what’s the bottom line?
Hopefully this article has given you some idea of the scope of what’s involved in determining how much a mobile app will cost. Do you have answers to several of the questions presented above. Then let’s give you an idea of what we are talking about in terms of costs.

A simple mobile app with no connection to an outside service for just Android will cost $5,000-$10,000. Need it for iOS then double it.

If that mobile app needs to connect to a 3rd party service like Twilio or FourSquare then you can add another $5,000-$15,000 depending on how many services we are talking about and how deeply integrated they are. If you need a service developed by Scenario 77, for example to be able to show a parts list or product documents, then that needs to be quoted out but usually runs $10,000-$30,000 again depending on how extensive the integration needs to be or how difficult it is to retrieve this data from the client’s internal systems.

If you need to store data from your users then that depends on whether that service already exists or needs to be developed. If the service exists then that’s maybe another $5,000-$15,000. If Scenario 77 needs to develop it then that’s another $10,000-$30,000 however if we are building both a way to distribute data to your app and store data from the app then this work can be combined saving you money. So instead of a total of $20,000-$60,000, it’s probably more like $15,000-$45,000.

Every project that Scenario 77 takes on is quoted out for the individual circumstances that each client presents. The above numbers should be used and interpreted like a quick “back of the napkin” calculation. We’ve done apps from $15,000 to well into the 6 figures. Every app just as every company’s circumstances are different.

So what’s next?
We’d like to hear from you. We will sit down with you during a Discovery meeting at no charge to you. We’ll first discuss your goals for this project, the requirements of the mobile app and your expected results. We’ll create a custom quote and then hope to move forward with our partnership.

* There are development platforms that allow you to code one time and deploy to both platforms (like Xamarin, PhoneGap, and Titanium) however we do not use these platforms. We’ve yet to use any that did either very well. They turned out to take as much time as just doing it “right” the first time.