Calculating the cost of a mobile application: on what factors depends and how to save.

Often clients only in a few words tell about desirable functionality and after that, the mobile app development company at once should name the approximate price. These pairs of words are not enough – it will not be possible to do without a detailed characterization of the product.

All calculations on a price fork or counters are confusing as they show the lower boundary. The real price for the required functionality is often several times higher.

We will tell you about the main factors influencing the development cost and what you need to know about them in order not to overpay for extra services.

Number of mobile applications

As of 2018, about 99% of the OS niche for mobile devices was occupied by Android and iOS platforms. There are not so many gadgets with other mobile platforms to make programs under them. The point is that different OSes are different, and it is impossible to make a single application that will function perfectly on any phone. Creating programs for BlackBerry OS or Windows does not pay off yet.

Android or iOS

Mobile and app developmentfor “Android” and iOS platforms takes into account the OS features:

How the program will interact with the components of the device, it concerns the processor, operating system, graphics core, and other elements.

Design. On Android, to return to the previous screen, click on the navigation bar, on iOS – you need to pile from left to right. iPhone does not have a navigation bar, so by adapting the “foreign” program, it must be removed. If you need a modern and well-developed design, our mobile app development company can handle any task.

Experience of users. Calendar for Android to select a date, similar to the pocket. At iOS, it is similar to the windows of slot machines. Using an unfamiliar calendar, it is harder for the user to sign up somewhere or order delivery.

The application can be created only for work on Android or iOS. Due to it, it is possible to save on working out, but it will cut off clients of one of OS. Cross-platform applications provide full coverage of the target audience.

For which platform should I start developing an application with a limited budget?

With a small budget, there are 3 development options.

The first is to make the application for only one platform. In this situation, we investigate the goals, ideas, competitors, and together with the customer we choose which OS will be more profitable and easier to start working with.

The second option is to make one application for 2 operating systems due to cross-platform development. This solution has disadvantages, but often it is an excellent option to reduce start-up costs, if you need, for example, to explore the area with the greatest coverage.

The third one is to reduce the number of functions to the required minimum. It is always desirable to do qualitatively, but as experience shows, it is necessary to start with a minimum, to learn the demand and how consumers will react, after that it is possible to improve the program by means of updating. This way the investments in the project are distributed over a longer period of time and you can find out which functions need to be connected first.

Researching users

iOS audience

Devices on iOS use 19% of the total mass of owners of phones and tablets. Often iPhone and iPad are bought by people under 45 who live in major cities. They have a highly paid job or business, a car, often travel and buy on the Internet.

Gadgets are used for work purposes, for business contacts or to automate household tasks. Holders of iPhones often visit social networks and messengers, work programs, taxi services, food, virtual shopping, car rentals, and more.

iOS users are more relaxed about orders through mobile services, so they are better monetized by paid versions with more functionality.

However, iPhone owners can be found in the metro playing Zuma Deluxe.

Android Audience

The Android platform is allocated about 80% of the total gadget market. The image of the standard user is fuzzy due to the large disparity of prices on devices. There are:

  • budget phones for 40-50$;
  • popular with middle-class customers Xiaomi, Honor, or Meizu for 120-180$;
  • so-called “flagship killers” for 200-350$ ;
  • original flagships worth 600-1000$, which correspond to “iPhones”

According to the largest cellular communication company network in Russia, in 2018 the average cost of the phone is 200$. At the same time, if we consider the price segment of more than 550$, the iPhone models sell better, compared to the flagship Xiaomi, Honor, and Samsung. This means that Android is often sold in budget and average price niches.

Typically, Android customers have an average or lower average income, they want to get normal quality for a democratic amount, instead of choosing a camera by choosing a powerful filling and capacitive battery. Social networks, messengers, and work programs are not used as often as games or entertainment programs.

There are many free applications for “Android” in stores, so users do not need to spend money, there is often monetization through advertising.

Noting the Central Asia of Android users, factors of multiple OS versions and display sizes are taken into account..

Compatible with Android versions

Android clients are less active in OS updates, as the budget and the outdated gadget is not enough for the latest and most demanding OS versions. Mobile application developers creating a product for “Android”, take into account for which versions of the OS suitable device, which affects the price.

To understand what OS versions you need to create a project for, we advise you to consider the example of a taxi project:

  • Through the Internet taxi services are often used by experienced users whose income is average or higher, for this reason, the application for the customer must be suitable for the latest version of the operation, regularly updated and improved. There is also no need to maintain old versions.
  • As for drivers, they use inexpensive smartphones at work, so they must support Android 5.0/6.0. These apps do not need to be updated as often as the client apps, as the devices do not change as often.

Matching screens and devices

What makes iOS different from Android is that the number of devices with this OS is limited. It’s much easier to create conditions for the program to function in steel on each device.

As for Android, it runs a lot of devices with a variety of screen sizes and OS options, which have been refined by manufacturers of equipment. Mobile application developers for Android often deal with the fact that they do not work or do it not quite correctly on certain devices.

Based on the analysis of the target audience, it is possible to highlight a list of priority gadgets for which you need to first adopt the program. The cost varies from one device to another.

Cross-platform VS Native Applications

A native application is created specifically for Android or iOS, taking into account the architecture of a particular platform, user-friendliness, and design properties. In this situation, the application is written for a separate platform.

Positive qualities of the native application:

  • great operation speed;
  • due to the small number of design and interface restrictions, it is possible to achieve maximum individuality;
  • you can do complex calculations and implement different functions that the gadget supports;
  • usability and design are developed according to the user experience of the smartphone owner…


  • High cost.

If we consider cross-platform development, here we write one application that adapts to 2 platforms due to special software.

Positive properties:

  • comparatively low cost;
  • due to less work with the code, the product is launched more quickly.


  • compared to the native, the application is slower because it has not been optimized for each operating system;
  • there is a risk that some features of the devices will not be able to be used.

When will cross-platform development is good?

It is not possible to claim about mobile app development by cross-platform programming languages that it is good or evil. For ordinary users, these applications are almost the same as native. For example, Instagram is a cross-platform program that has not become a hindrance for owners to popularize and sell the product in a profitable way.

Cross-platform development has 2 main disadvantages. The first one is a worse adaptation to the architecture of the device, for this reason, it will not suit resource-intensive programs. Second, the service depends on the creator of the platform, which is engaged in “translation” programming languages on different operating systems.

Project Functionality

The latest versions of services for your smartphone can perform various tasks. For example, consider the functionality of the largest Russian bank mobile app, as one of the most thoughtful on the internet:

  • potential and new users can use the demo mode;
  • instantly checks your device for viruses when you login;
  • to log in, the code is automatically generated and sent;
  • you can put a PIN or a graphic key to login;
  • PUSH-notifications are sent;
  • you can find the nearest “Sberbank” branches on the maps.;
  • making transactions with cards: send a transaction, transfer funds between accounts, block a card, view transaction histories;
  • payment execution: send payment to bank client by mobile number/card/account; payment by QR code, payment to organizations from the list without filling in details; connect automatic payment, template, or savings account.;
  • Naturally, the price of creating such an application will be several tens of thousands of USD, but this is just an example of functionality. Next, let’s move on to the study of the main options used by most programs and affecting the project cost.

Determine which options the application needs and which do not.

In fact, there is no universal advice as to which option must be in the program and which must not. You will be able to solve this problem after a thorough analysis of a certain idea; you should compare it with your competitors and make an analysis.

Without any option, the program may be uncompetitive and there is no sense in launching it. You can also expand its functionality more in comparison to others and become better. For example, “Yula”(Russian advertisement board) once was a serious competitor to “Avito”(The biggest advertisement board in Russia), because it allowed making purchases from participants as in online stores: pay by credit card and order home delivery.

Now the options of online payment of goods/services, status monitoring, tracking of order history, log in to a personal account are in maximum demand. In most niches, they are particularly in demand for business.

Payment for services/goods online

The option of payment through the service not only increases usability but also reduces the turnover of cash, no longer need to give couriers the terminal to make non-cash payments.

Research has also shown that the number of phone purchases in 2018 has increased by 78%, and after a couple of years, it may be at the level of desktop sales markets. Moreover, in the period between Friday evening and Sunday, mobile sales are already outweighing desktop sales.

Today’s mobile programs allow you to link your credit card to your personal account and make automatic payments. In this case the option of synchronization with mobile aggregators.

Client Accounts

Сlient accounts provide the opportunity to:

  • quick order, no need to re-enter personal information for processing;
  • order history view;
  • monitoring order status;
  • cancel or reschedule orders on another date/time.

Filling a personal account depends on the needs of clients. To reduce the cost of creating a project, you need to start with the starting list and gradually increase the functionality.

For business personal accounts are useful because they provide an opportunity to collect data about clients: gender, age, and other personal information. For example, to learn about brands and models of cars for a car repair shop or spare parts store, breeds of pets veterinary clinics or veterinary shops. This information will be useful during the advertising and interview period.

Now authorization in the system by login/password is not so actual any more: users do not like to remember many codes. An optimal variant will be an entrance through the page in a social network or by phone number. This method is often used on Facebook, Google, etc. For gaming applications under “Android,” Google Play Games service is used.

Cheap app development provides one way of authorization, the more they are, the higher the cost of creation, so you need to carefully examine the audience and understand which option is better suited. For example, the business service is suitable for Facebook, and the Android operating system communicates with your Google account.

Customer Support

In mobile applications you need to quickly notify the customer about changes in order status, time of delivery or transportation of the parcel to the place of pick-up, notify about the occurrence of the ordered event, the latest news, promotional offers. Informing can be done through personal accounts, SMS, or PUSH notifications.

Push notifications are an effective marketing tool that can be used to notify customers about the promotions, to remind them about yourself if the user has been in the application for a long time, as well as to investigate the effectiveness. But, like other imposed tools, push technology needs to be improved: a too intrusive application can be blocked by the user or even removed from the device.

At the expense of the chat in the application, you can solve any issue that has appeared without calls. The written kind of communication is leading at owners of phones in comparison with voice, for this reason, chats – a native way of the reference.

The service often provides options for dialing a phone number, ordering a callback call, or leaving feedback on the purchase. Reviews in apps are useful because mobile application developers get them immediately, they don’t need to view comments on a page in the AppStore or Google Play. Dissatisfaction with the courier or manager, without any other method to express a negative, the customer can express as a single star and angry comment on the wall.

Location Search

Due to the access of mobile programs to the services of network companies GPS or GLONASS, it is possible to automatically find the location of users and send them to local departments. Due to this, it is possible to avoid misunderstanding in order distribution due to a manual indication of regions.

Using synchronization with maps, it is possible to show users the location of the shop/office and also to pave the way to them using a navigator. For example, “Yandex.Taxi”(The most popular taxi service in Russia) performs synchronization of driver and customer services so that everyone can see the location of the second. In mobile applications for workers on the move – drivers, forwarders, couriers, etc. – it is possible to track the location of intermediate points.

Application Design

Design while creating a mobile app is not just animation, keys, pop-up menu, original font, shadows, and other beauty. Design is a method of meeting user requests, which are the point of departure for the realization of the desired business effect.

In the digital department of holding “Sibur”(Russian petrochemicals company), for example, all templates of the approach to the design of mobile application have been blown to dust and ashes as it is used not by office workers on a lunch break, in technologies which at -40 sit on a pipe, height in 5 floors. Such conditions require a minimum of non-functional “beauty”, the presence of physical keys, and the possibility of voice input to use the device without removing gloves and without taking it out of your pocket.

Most of the cost of the project is allocated for the creation of the design. The price of the design varies from several factors: the level of complexity and volume of work.

Difficulty in the design creation

Designer app development has several requirements:

  • Functional. Additional details affect the project price and add complexity to the interface. If you do not understand what a certain element is needed for and what it will give to the client, then safely remove.
  • Clarity. Customers of the service do not read detailed instructions for its use. If it is not immediately clear where to click to place an order, they delete the application and upload another one.
  • Nativity. iOS or Android users have their own habits that mobile apps should fit. You should not design an Android app like on the iPhone for beauty reasons. An unfamiliar interface will lead to underestimation of clients and will lower the rating.
  • When creating a design, you must maintain a balance. Excessively simple and template will not work as the program will start to look like a Dendy game in 2019. Nostalgia is haunting, but not many people will really like big pixels and uncomplicated features.

Due to the complex details, you can expand the possibilities of the program, and animation and other effects will increase its attractiveness, but the reverse side – a heavy load on the “stuffing” of the device, reducing the speed of work on the public sector devices. If the application is designed for a large audience, the design needs to be adapted to the resources of budget gadgets.

How much does a designer have to work

The amount of work of the designer varies from the number of screens in the program. A screen is everything that users will see: from a welcome message to the “About an application” subsection, where one of 10,000 users logging in.

Service features affect the number of screens: by reducing functionality, the designer’s work is automatically reduced. A small application has 5-7 screens, the average number of screens increases to 10-15, the large has more than 20.

A prototype showing the type of program with the required functional details and user scenarios will help to reduce the design costs.

Checklist for mobile app customers

The terms of reference contain a lot of data, so it is created by the developer. But to deliver an idea, you need to know the answers to a certain number of questions from the beginning:

  • If the program is aimed at a large number of users, who will use it (audience gender, age, income, the scope of activities, and other data affecting the use of the service)? What problem will the application help to solve?
  • Which options do you need first?
  • Main design wishes: corporate color palette, the example of design on other customer’s resources (for example, site) and other programs to be oriented on.
  • The supposed workload of the performer.

In the last point you have to prescribe:

  • creating the TOR and prototype of each screen;
  • development and design, testing;
  • writing instructions for moderator or administrator;
  • adding the application to the App Store and Google Play stores;
  • service promotion, technical support, and moderation during use.

Turnkey service development provides for a complete list of the above-mentioned actions. There can be other variants during which certain functions will be carried out by employees of the customer.

Make sure you remember:

  • The price of a mobile application is considered based on the TOR and the prototype. In these documents, the blurred “Make us a mobile application…” becomes a certain target with specific options and several design requests.
  • Approximate calculation of the cost in the calculator or fork of the developers’ prices is almost always not equal to the total, because it is not possible to take into account all the nuances at this stage. The size of the difference can be 2-3 of the original price tags, the investment volume, and payback time of the application are growing.

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