As a simple estimate, you can figure between $1000 and $5000 for a simple application. In this case, you would likely provide very clear directions, examples, and all the content. A big portion of this expense would go to graphics, so if you can do this yourself, you’ll save a couple thousand most likely.
Database applications, which typically involve logic and architecting are much more expensive. These involve a pretty sophisticated framework, which will then essentially drive the data. You would still need to provide all the content and graphics but this one will likely run you between $8000 and $40,000.
Games are the hardest to estimate, because they vary oh-so-much. We’d love to create a game like Angry Birds but we’d probably be looking between $120,000 all the way up to $180,000 for an originally-designed game. Games typically vary between $10,000 and $200,000 depending how sophisticated and original they are. You might need some difficult coding, not to mention very good graphics, gyroscope, top scores integration, and so forth. At the same time, games are typically the most downloaded apps because they are fun and can go viral quicker than any other apps, which means your income potential can be higher.
Now let’s take a look at the costs of design.
Designing an app is important. Even the greatest app will likely fail if it’s designed poorly. A good design will lead to more engagement as well as more conversions, which in turn can lead to more money. You’ll likely want to find an amazing mobile app designer who can create the proper work flow and space restrictions.
Once you find a great designer, you’ll probably be buying a package of PSD and other graphic files including screens and icons. These files will come in many different sizes so that they convert well for both the iPhone and the iPad.
If your looking for just the iPhone, you’ll probably spend around $400 – $9000 and more if your looking at the retinas. This will get you your base design, which can then be given to your developer. Keep in mind that you should ask the developer what he would like the files to be named before the designer gets to work.
If you’re looking at the iPad, you’ll probably spend between $2000 and $13,000. This is because of the added speed and size of the iPad functionality.
Aside from the development costs, the Apple store will also charge you around $100 per year and 30% of each sale. You’ll also need hosting.
So how much does developing an app cost? It varies significantly and will depend how sophisticated you want it to be. You can hire freelancers or outsource it to other countries. You can spend a lot and hire a design/development firm. Either avenue you take will give varying outcomes and typically, you get what you pay for.
It can be done cheap but it will likely require an all-inclusive firm, which means your app will be similar to many others and possibly be low quality. You really need to decide what would provide the best Return-on-Investment and go from there. Even cheaper apps can bring a few thousand new visits to a website, which can result in more sales if marketed right.
Like most things in business, the numbers above are estimates. It can be cheaper and it can be very expensive. Be careful about spending $1000 on a game and be extra careful spending hundred of thousands of dollars on any app because at that price, it better be incredible.
For more on app marketing, check out our blog.