The Real Cost of Developing an iPhone App

The Real Cost of Developing an iPhone App

The Real Cost of Developing an iPhone App

AppI have recently been looking into the cost of developing an iPhone App. As an experienced coder, I have a good understanding of the complexities that go into creating just a few simple functions for a website such as this one which I would have expected to provide me some insight into the time and cost involved in developing an App. To be fair, my guesstimate wasn’t too far off the initial quote, but there were a few things I didn’t even consider:

  1. Scoping – This is probably the most important part of App development. Scoping is when you work with the developers to translate your ideas into a storyboard. This stage enables the developers to get a complete understanding of your idea, and convert it into a workable solution. The developers will provide you with feedback too, making suggestions and recommendations based on their experience and the available technology.  The scoping stage should take about 2 hours of your time – but then the developers go away and work with the designers to create a full, screen by screen, breakdown of every single aspect and feature of your App. This can easily add up to 20-50 hours of their time, and to make sure this is done right, you don’t want any corners cut. This will effectively be the ‘blueprint’ of your App.
  2. X Code – This is the Apple specific scripting language. It isn’t too hard to learn, but it isn’t as simple as taking your PHP knowledge and applying it. App development requires people with 3 years minimum X Code experience.
  3. Design – That’s right, developers are not designers. Designers will need to be involved and will need to work closely with the developers to design your graphics. This will be based on your scoping document.
  4. Testing – No App will be successful without robust testing. A good App developer will plan the testing and may have their own contacts to carry this out for you, or may release the App to you to distribute within your own network to test and provide feedback.
  5. The App Store – Not all Apps make it! Around 50% of all Apps are not accepted into the App Store on the first submission, and 15% never ever make it in, as they contravene Apple’s terms. Again, a good developer will know what will/won’t be accepted, and will never scope an App that can’t be sold. 
  6. Marketing – You could produce the best App the world has ever seen, except it will never be seen because nobody knows it exists. A good marketing plan will help your App get noticed. This means press releases, blog posts, facebook adverts, using freeappaday.com or other such marketing tactics. 
  7. Hosting and support – So, you have produced the best App in the world, people are downloading it at a rate of 10,000 a day. Your cheap ass server falls over. Now what? You will need to ensure you have good, reliable, and scalable hosting options. Cloud storage is probably the best way to go, and it needs to be automatically responsive, so if you do get a spike in downloads, your users get what they pay for.
  8. Updates – You will always find bugs after release.  You will always want to provide updates with new features to keep your buyers happy and to encourage new buyers, so you want to create a relationship with your developers to bring them on the ride with you. 
In summary, all of these things that don’t immediately spring to mind when considering an App development add additional cost to your budgeting. Scimp on any of these areas and you are setting yourself up to fail.
Many developers, if they like your idea, will work for a lower fee if they own a stake in the App, say 10-30%. This has two advantages, 1) The cost is reduced by the percentage stake you are willing to give away, 2) the developers will probably work that little bit harder to produced a highly polished App as they know they will be getting a percentage of all sales over the lifetime of the contract.
By the way, the initial quote for my App, prior to the scoping stage that will give an accurate cost, is $30-50K. Alot of money to outlay on such a high risk project, but if it can crack the top 10 in the App Store, it will be well worth it!

Tom has been writing about the iPhone since 2007 and is well known as an expert in his field with multiple blogs and numerous articles being published on technology and mobile phone websites.

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One thought on “The Real Cost of Developing an iPhone App

  1. mike

    i have made a website with all kinds of info about creating successful iphone and ipad apps please check it out. just click on my name

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