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How Much Does It Cost to Create an App?

create an app

In 2023, the mobile app industry is peaking. Probably, its number will become larger and larger if there will not be something extraordinary like a global Internet shutdown. So, it is still a perfect time to enter the industry, and probably, it will continue to be!

But how much does it cost to create an app? Firstly, you must clearly comprehend how these costs may be evaluated not to lose your money trying to catch up with nothing. So, let’s delve into this topic deeper.

Evaluating the Cost

You might hear that it is hard to evaluate how much you must spend instantly. We can reassure you that it’s true only when you don’t know clearly what you want. Or if your knowledge is present but too vague and unspecific.

Let’s review several steps which may clarify this question for you.

Figure out clearly why you need to create an app.

It is the foremost question: the vision and mission of your product. If you understand them and have proof of their viability, your product’s success chances rise steadily.

Define your app’s requirements

They include features, design, platforms, integrations, etc. Once you have a full list in front of you, you can orient easily, as with the treasure map, where you should go, how much it will cost, and which benefits may bring.

Estimate hourly rates

Of your potential team or freelancers/outsourcers. These rates can vary greatly depending on many factors: from less than $10 to more than $70 per hour. Formulate your team based on these rates, required competencies, and other factors.

Identify the development stages

These are uniform for all app types: from planning, via research and development, to release and maintenance. Then you can estimate the cost and timing of each stage and elucidate the total price you need to pay.

Consider additional expenses and hidden costs

Related to subscriptions, platforms, maintenance, updates, and advertising.

Set a contingency budget

It will be your safety airbag when you’ll create an app. In case of any accident, which will more likely occur than not occur, you’ll be able to handle it with minimum expenses.

By summarizing these steps, you can formulate your budget to create an app quite clearly, along with all safety measures and hidden costs. Now, let’s proceed to the app types overview to see how their development may vary.

App Types Short Overview

The right app type indication is the clue to the correct budget evaluation. Let’s quickly overview some widespread app types.

  • Social apps need information transfer capabilities, developed user profiles, encryption, and servers for keeping user data.
  • Dating apps include location- and interests-based search engines, along with lightweight social app facilities, connecting people together.
  • Delivery apps are platforms for ordering something remotely and connecting a customer with a courier.
  • Real estate apps are platforms for evaluating, comparing, and choosing the estate for purchase.
  • Well-being apps should contain tracking features to monitor customers’ behavior and motivate them to behave in order to improve their lives.
  • Mobile games’ success depends on their ability to immerse the player into it through a good plot and interactivity.

How to Reduce the Cost?

There is a number of approaches to reducing development costs and creating an app efficiently. We will avoid vague and self-obvious formulations such as “avoid mistakes” and “consider all precautions,” and instead will focus on specific actions which can help.

  • Money-saving concepts include MVP and prototyping. They enable testing the app in conditions when expenses are still low.
  • Outsourcing development is usually much cheaper than hiring a developer for your team.
  • Ready-to-use templates and patterns are present on the Internet in large amounts, so don’t hesitate to search for them.
  • Open-source frameworks such as React Native and Flutter are free and extremely helpful.
  • Hidden cost minimization begins by elucidating them and writing them down in a list. They were already mentioned in the evaluation section, so it’s time to remember them.

Examples from the Best

Many popular apps started as startups, and initial investments were no more than several hundreds of thousands of dollars. They used all mentioned methods to survive and realize their missions, believing that they could change the world. Each of these adventurous short stories below deserves its own book, and some of these books are written, as you’ll see.

Here, however, we’ll be short and simply present you how large, billion-dollar projects can arise from $30,000 – $300,000 enterprises until receiving large investments or being acquired by tech giants. Hopefully, they’ll motivate you to create an app based on a similarly big and successful idea.


Launched in 2013 with very little cost, its developers strived to collect feedback and improve the company based on it. They tried to create a product for team communication that will have an excellent user interface and experience, despite having almost no money for that. As you can see in the screenshot below, they succeeded.

In 2014, they received a $120 million investment from Google, which enabled them to scale up and skyrocket. Now it is one of the largest SaaS in the world, but they prepared the product for flying, being a good example of how you can do that, too.

Angry Birds

One of the most popular games of the 2010s began as a small arcade launched in 2009 for $0.99 in iOS by a small company Rovio. After the extreme popularity growth, they raised millions of dollars of venture capital, which made the once-small company one of the largest in the mobile game market. It is a story demonstrating how experimentation with game mechanics can give birth to an extremely viral product.


A taxi app started as a side application in 2009, being a small platform connecting drivers and potential passengers. Only in 2010, they received their first $1,3 million investment and started to scale. Similarly, eventually, it became the world’s fastest-growing startup due to its innovative idea, which required little money to implement initially.


Initially called Burbn, obtained $500,000 soon after its launch in 2010, and used this money to create a photo-sharing platform, which started to grow fast due to people’s desire to express themselves. In less than 3 years, the company’s valuation reached $1 billion, and now we all know about the solid place of Instagram in our culture.


Started with several tens of thousands of dollars at the beginning of 2008 before obtaining $600,000 in seed money in 2009, as described in the book The Airbnb Story. This story is even more adventurous, as its founders developed the platform for renting their own room, trying to earn at least some money. And then, they managed to scale this approach to the entire world! Now everyone can similarly rent their room via Airbnb, which is certainly beneficial both for the company and its customers.

These examples demonstrate how a great idea, connected with a smart team, can develop a popular and successful mobile app even with highly limited starting capital.

Conclusion: Be Clear and Have a Mission

To create an app, you should always be ready for unexpected expenses. However, you can greatly minimize them by applying widely available approaches: MVP, prototyping, outsourcing, patterns, and frameworks. If you manage to catch and limit all hidden and unnecessary costs, it will save the situation greatly, too.

If your app has a clear vision and mission, there is much more chance that it will reward you. However, vision should not be your fantasy about the “better world,” equally as a mission is not a call to “doing good for the greater good.” Each of them is a specific formula clearly stating how your product will develop in the future (vision) and how it will influence the world, making it better, with proofs and examples (mission). They increase trust in your product, retain customers, and give you a sense of what you should do at each moment. So, chances that you’ll not spend your money in vain and attract more investments instead rise.

Therefore, to create an app that will be successful, you should assemble a meaning first. Then, embody it in the form of a prototype with a clear vision and mission toward your target audience and the world. After that, calculate all possible and expected expenses that can fall on you using the mentioned tips and decide how to avoid them. While the chance of loss and accident is always present, all these measures will make it as low as possible.

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