The Cost of App Development Part 1: Breaking it Down

It’s been 10 years now since the original release of the first iPhone and the app store that swiftly followed in its wake. The app development market grew at an unbelieveable rate, with the App Store recording 1 Billion downloads in less than 9 months and then doubling that number in half the time. Other mobile OS quickly adopted a similar concept and now there are an estimated 1.5 million apps in circulation around the mobile world.

Some people are still asking how something as small as the apps that we use on our phones, essentially truncated computer programs that usually only serve one relatively simple purpose, became the driver of a massive global industry.

people want apps

It’s easy to see; any mobile OS that doesn’t have a substantial app library will always have a harder time attracting customers than a well matured app ecosystem on another OS will and retailers who have a mobile offering to their store see up to 26% more business simply because people can shop on their phones. Then there’re the frequent stories of appillionaires who, through the success of one app alone, have made millions of dollars and are now set for life; case and point, Rovio and their Angry Birds franchise. The addictive game about indignant avians and their swine enemies is on nearly every handset worldwide and has made tens of millions of dollars for the company.

So no wonder then that everyone still wants a piece of the action, but many people and companies are put off of app development by what they assume to be high development costs and the fact that it seems like an incredibly complex thing to make an app.

Well, we at Kumulos are here to tell you that neither of these things has to be true at all for a new app development project and over the course of 3 blogs we’re going to look at just why that is.

In this blog we’ll break down roughly the process of getting an app created from the creative production side, then we’ll go into design, and then finish with costing it out.

So first things first, when making your app, you should think about what it is first and foremost you want the app to do. What is its core function? It’s raison d’etre? What problem or problems does it solve or services does it provide and how does it do that?

Once you’ve got that initial groundwork, then you can look at the common types of app out there that suit different types of function and choose the best one for you and your app.

Common App Types

Basic Table – Think an email or simple note taking app. No splash-screen, no bells and whistles, just the information you want your app to display in a simple and easy to understand format. Definitely the easiest to create.

Database driven with UI – This is a much more freeform label and it essentially is best applied to apps that want to display a lot of information, such as a list of people, places etc (think Facebook) in an interesting way that’s different and recognizable but also, again, easy to navigate. This is the kind of project many retailers will want to take on as it provides a distinctive design element to the app; this type of app is also, however, the most prone to silver plating and scope creep so be aware.

Games – Anything from Pong to full 3-d with near console graphics and everything between. This is likely to be the most expensive form of app to make if you’re going for the cutting edge graphics, but it’s also where they highest profit margins are. Risk vs reward, as always

Mods – Apps that change or enhance the function of something the device can already do. For example the Flashlight app, or one of the many camera apps that change the ability of the camera in some way (Instagram etc)

Dynamic – “Always On” apps. These apps rely almost entirely on being connected to outside data sources (i.e. the internet) to work. Usually include weather and news apps and other frequently updated features.

And then there’s a whole mess of everything else in there to boot, but these are definitely the most likely and most seen types of app in the app stores at the moment.

So that should get your thinking caps on and get you starting to plan out where you app idea fits in. In our next article in this series, we’ll talk about the stages of app development.