Mobile App Development Cost Breakdown – From Concept to Launch

Mobile App Development Cost Breakdown - From Concept to Launch


The revenue trajectory of mobile apps from 2017 to 2024 paints a compelling picture of growth and innovation, soaring from $155.51 billion to an impressive $522.67 billion. 

As we look ahead with projections stretching to 2027 and beyond, we can see that the market doesn’t plan to stop there. In 2023 the average mobile user has installed over 18 apps on their device – so the increasing interest in mobile app development services is not a surprise. 

Today we will focus on mobile app development cost, from the app idea to its launch.

Statistics from 2017 to 2024 showing the mobile app development cost.
Source: Statista

Types of Mobile Apps

In the app development ecosystem, there are primarily three types of mobile applications that businesses can consider: native, hybrid, and web-based. Each type has its own unique set of technologies, development processes, and cost structures, which are critical to understanding effective budgeting and strategic planning.

Native Apps

They are developed specifically for one platform, such as Android or iOS, using platform-specific programming languages like Swift for iOS apps and Kotlin or Java for Android apps. They can take full advantage of the hardware and software features of their respective platforms, offering high performance and an amazing user experience. 

However, the cost of developing native apps tends to be higher due to the need for specialized skill sets for each platform, potentially doubling the development effort if supporting both iOS and Android. 

Additionally, separate updates and maintenance for each platform increase the long-term costs. Native apps, while costly, provide a superior performance and user experience that can justify the high mobile app development cost for user-intensive, complex applications. 

Cross-Platform Apps

These apps are developed using advanced frameworks such as React Native and Flutter, which allow developers to develop an app that can run on multiple operating systems from a single codebase. This significantly reduces upfront costs by eliminating the need to hire multiple teams to work on different platform-specific technologies. 

The cost-effectiveness is further enhanced by having just one app development team manage updates, maintenance, and scalability across all platforms, which simplifies project management and reduces the scope for errors and miscommunications that can arise from juggling multiple development teams. 

Unfortunately, these apps might face challenges with performance and user experience that do not match native applications, particularly in more complex or feature-rich apps.

React Native cross-platform mobile apps

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are an advanced form of web apps that combine the best features of web and native apps. Developed using the same web technologies, PWAs offer additional capabilities such as offline access, push notifications, and fast loading times, even on slow networks. 

They are designed to be reliable, fast, and engaging, providing a more seamless user experience. PWAs can be installed on the user’s home screen and can access some device-specific features, although they still do not fully match the performance and functionality of native apps

Complex Overview of Mobile App Development Cost

The final cost of building an app can be influenced by a number of decisions made before and during the process. Here’s an overview of what could potentially influence how much it can cost to build an app:

Pre-development Costs

The journey to creating a successful app begins long before any actual coding takes place. Pre-development activities are crucial for laying a strong foundation and can significantly influence the overall application development cost and success

These initial costs include market research, user analysis, conceptualization, planning, and potentially hiring consultants or conducting feasibility studies.

Market Research and User Analysis

Understanding the target market and user preferences is vital for designing an app that meets real needs and stands out in the competitive market. Market research and user analysis involve gathering and analyzing data about potential users’ behaviours, preferences, and demographics. 

This phase may include surveys, focus groups, and competitive analysis to identify market gaps and opportunities. The cost of this research can vary widely depending on the depth and breadth of the data collected, with expenses possibly including hiring specialized research firms and purchasing access to industry reports.

Conceptualization and Planning

Once a clear understanding of the market and users is established, the next step is to conceptualize the app. This phase involves defining the app’s core features, planning the user journey, and sketching preliminary design mockups. Effective planning also requires drafting a detailed project scope and timeline, which helps in budget management and sets clear milestones. 

Costs during this stage arise from the need for skilled personnel, such as project managers and UX/UI designers, who play critical roles in turning an app concept into a detailed plan ready for development.

Hiring Consultants or Conducting Feasibility Studies

For more complex projects, it might be necessary to hire external consultants or conduct feasibility studies. Consultants can offer expertise in specific areas such as technology selection, security compliance, and system integration

They can help validate the app concept against technological trends and market demands. While costly, investing in expert advice upfront can save significant resources by avoiding pitfalls and misguided development paths.

The mobile app development cost associated with pre-development activities should be viewed as an essential investment in the app’s success. Skimping on these initial stages can lead to higher costs down the line due to redesigns, redevelopments, or complete project pivots. 

It is recommended that businesses allocate a portion of their total app development budget to these initial stages to ensure the final product is well-researched, strategically planned, and market-ready.

Read more: How to build a project plan for mobile app development

Development Stage Cost Breakdown

The development phase is where the most significant portion of your budget will typically be allocated. This stage includes hiring developers, choosing a technology stack, and designing the user interface and experience. Each of these aspects has a profound impact on the overall mobile app development cost.

Want to outsource developing your app?

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Hiring Developers: In-House Team vs. Outsourcing

Choosing between employing an in-house team or outsourcing to an external agency is a crucial decision that affects not just cost, but also the control and quality of the project.

In-House Team

Hiring an in-house team of developers to build a mobile app provides better control over the development process and potentially smoothens coordination and communication. However, the final cost is generally higher due to salaries, benefits, and ongoing training and development needs. 

This option is preferable for companies looking for long-term investment in app development and those needing to protect sensitive information or proprietary technology.


Outsourcing the project to specialized mobile app development companies or skilled freelancers offers significant financial advantages, particularly in terms of reducing overhead costs. 

Unlike maintaining an in-house team, outsourcing eliminates the need for expenses related to employee benefits, ongoing training, and other associated costs of full-time staff. It allows you to pay solely for the work performed, which can be especially cost-effective for project-specific engagements or when augmenting your team for particular skills during a project’s lifecycle. 

Additionally, outsourcing can access a global talent pool, often at a lower cost due to wage variations in different countries. This can be a strategic advantage for obtaining high-quality services at competitive rates. 

However, while outsourcing presents substantial cost savings, it may also introduce challenges such as reduced direct control over the development process and potential hurdles related to communication and time zone differences. These issues can be mitigated by choosing reputable service providers with proven communication protocols and project management strategies. 

Outsourcing is particularly suitable for companies seeking flexible staffing solutions or those without a deep technological base, allowing them to scale resources up or down based on project requirements without the long-term commitments associated with hiring full-time employees.

Read more about the Software Development Outsourcing

Technology Stack: Impact on Mobile App Development Cost

The choice of technology stack—whether developing for Android and iOS or using cross-platform tools—affects both the upfront and long-term costs of app maintenance and updates

Android and iOS: Developing separate apps for each platform independently can be more expensive due to the need for different skill sets and development tools. 

Cross-Platform Tools: Platforms like React Native allow mobile developers to write one codebase to cover both iOS and Android, which can reduce mobile app development cost and time.

App Design and User Experience

Investing in high-quality UI/UX design is crucial as it directly influences user satisfaction and engagement. The design process includes wireframing, prototyping, and user testing, all of which involve considerable time and expertise.

A difference between UI design and UX design.

UI/UX Design Costs:

Good design requires the expertise of experienced designers, which can be costly. However, investing in design can significantly improve the user retention rate, ultimately enhancing the return on investment.

While it’s tempting to cut costs on design to focus on development, this can lead to a poor user experience that diminishes the app’s effectiveness and appeal. Budget allocations should reflect the critical role that design plays in the success of the app.

Read more: UX and UI in mobile app development process 

Simple Apps vs Complex Apps: Key App Features and Functionality 

When developing a mobile app, the choice of features and functionalities plays a critical role in defining both the app’s utility and its development cost. This section breaks down these elements into basic features, advanced features, and their integration with other systems, alongside the costs associated with backend infrastructure and administration. 

Basic Features vs. Advanced Features

  • Basic Features: These are the essential functionalities that allow the app to operate effectively and fulfil its primary purpose. For instance, user registration, basic navigation, and simple data processing are typical basic features. The cost of implementing these features is generally lower because they require standard development practices and are less complex.
  • Advanced Features: Advanced functionalities such as real-time data synchronization, complex database relationships, artificial intelligence, or augmented reality provide enhanced user experiences but significantly increase the development cost. These features require specialized skills, more extensive testing, and longer development time.

Integration with Existing Systems and Third-Party Services

  • Integration Costs: Integrating the app with existing databases, CRM systems, or third-party services such as payment gateways, social media platforms, and analytics tools is essential for many apps. These integrations often require additional development work to ensure seamless operation and data consistency, which can increase the app development price.
  • Third-Party Services: Utilizing third-party services can reduce some of the development burdens, such as using pre-built SDKs for analytics or payment processing. While this can initially seem cost-effective, it’s essential to consider ongoing subscription fees or per-transaction costs that might increase the operational budget.

Backend Infrastructure and App Administration Costs

  • Backend Development: Developing a robust backend is crucial for apps that require server-side data processing, authentication, and storage. It involves setting up servers, databases, and APIs, and ensuring data security, all of which incur significant costs.
  • Administration Costs: Once the custom app is deployed, ongoing administration is required to manage user accounts, secure data, update content, and ensure the infrastructure performs optimally. Depending on the app’s complexity, you might need dedicated staff or external services to manage these tasks, leading to continuous operational costs.

It’s essential to strategically plan for these costs by prioritizing features based on user needs and business objectives. Phased development approaches—starting with a minimal viable product (MVP) and progressively adding advanced features based on user feedback—can help manage costs and reduce financial risk

Building and MVP is an extremely popular and cost-effective solution, chosen by big companies, like Twitter, Spotify and Admiral


Developing a mobile app MVP for Veygo in just a few weeks

veygo case study

Updates and App Maintenance Costs

Maintaining is critical for ensuring the application’s long-term functionality and security. The type of app—whether native or cross-platform—can significantly affect the maintenance costs involved. Here’s how:

Ongoing Maintenance Costs

  • Bug Fixes: All apps require regular debugging, but native apps might incur higher costs due to the necessity of fixing bugs on multiple platform versions (iOS and Android) separately.
  • Security Updates: Both native and cross-platform apps need regular security updates. However, native apps may require separate security patches for each platform, potentially doubling the maintenance effort.
  • Server and Infrastructure Costs: These are generally similar for both types of apps, but the complexity of integrating multiple platform-specific features in native apps might lead to slightly higher costs.
  • Frameworks Upgrades: Upgrades in frameworks are necessary to keep apps compatible with the latest operating systems and third-party services. However, transitioning between major versions can require extensive testing and adjustments to ensure that existing app features and third-party modules continue to function correctly.

Read more: A quick guide for React Native versions upgrades

Cost of Updating the App with New Features

  • Adding New Features: Adding new features in native apps often means developing them multiple times for different platforms, which can double the cost and effort. In contrast, cross-platform apps allow for a single development process to update multiple platforms, which can be more cost-effective.
  • Compliance with Operating System Updates: Native apps must adapt to each operating system’s updates separately, which can increase the workload and associated costs. Cross-platform tools often handle some of the compatibility issues internally, which can reduce the effort and cost for developers.
  • Market Adaptation: Both types of apps need to adapt to changing market conditions and user expectations, but the flexibility of cross-platform apps can lead to lower costs in adapting features that work universally across platforms.

It’s advisable to allocate about 15-20% of the initial development cost annually towards maintenance. However, this percentage can be higher for native apps due to the need for parallel development and maintenance tracks for each platform.

Marketing and Deployment

Launching a mobile app successfully involves more than just development and testing—it also requires effective marketing and careful planning of the deployment process. This section explores both of these critical areas.

Deployment Costs

  • App Store Fees: Both major app stores (Apple App Store and Google Play) charge fees for app submissions. The Apple App Store requires a yearly developer fee, while Google Play charges a one-time fee. Additional costs may arise for multiple platform submissions.
  • Compliance Costs: Ensuring the app complies with local regulations (such as GDPR in Europe or CCPA in California) can involve legal consultations and potential modifications to the app’s functionality, particularly concerning user data protection.
  • Testing and Approval: Before an app can be launched on any store, it must pass through an approval process which might require adjustments based on feedback from the app store, adding to the development cost.

Marketing Strategies and Promotional Costs

  • Marketing Campaigns: Strategies might include digital marketing (SEO, social media advertising, email campaigns), traditional marketing (print ads, broadcasting), or a combination of both. Costs will depend on the channels used, the geographic scope of the marketing, and the duration of the campaigns.
  • App Launch Events: Hosting launch events or webinars can help generate buzz around the app. These might involve venue costs, promotional materials, and potentially speaker fees.
  • Influencer Partnerships: Collaborating with influencers to promote the app can tap into established audiences. Costs here are highly variable and depend on the influencer’s reach and terms of engagement.
  • User Acquisition Costs: These include the cost per install (CPI) or cost per action (CPA) associated with digital ads, which can be significant depending on the competition in the app’s niche.

To maximize the app’s visibility and user adoption, allocating a substantial portion of the budget to marketing is crucial. It’s recommended to set aside approximately 20-30% of the overall budget for marketing activities to ensure a robust launch. Additionally, keeping a reserve for deployment costs will help manage any unforeseen expenses during the launch phase.

Why does the cost of mobile app development increase in time? 

The demand for mobile apps has skyrocketed in recent years, driven by the widespread adoption of smartphones and the growing reliance on mobile devices for various tasks. This increased demand has led to higher costs for skilled app developers and designers.

Advancements in Technology

The rapid advancements in mobile technology, such as the integration of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT), have made app development more complex and resource-intensive, thereby increasing costs.

Increased App Complexity

As users’ expectations for app functionality and user experience have grown, the complexity of apps has increased substantially. Apps now require more advanced features, seamless integrations with third-party services, and robust security measures, all of which contribute to higher development costs.

Need for cross-platform mobile applications

The need for apps to be available on multiple platforms (iOS, Android, and sometimes the web) has necessitated the use of cross-platform development frameworks or the creation of separate native apps for each platform.


You need to remember that the entire mobile app development cost includes not just initial programming and design, but also ongoing maintenance, marketing, and compliance with regulatory standards

The type of app—native, cross-platform, or web-based—greatly influences these costs, with native apps typically requiring more resources due to specialized development needs. Outsourcing can reduce initial costs and provide access to a global talent pool, though it comes with challenges in quality control and communication

Strategic budgeting for marketing and deployment is essential, as these factors critically determine the app’s market presence and long-term success.

Need a second opinion on your app?

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Chris Lojniewski

CEO at Pagepro - React & React Native software house specialising in building tailor-made web applications for clients around the world. Chris is currently spearheading a mission close to his heart: making development frictionless. His philosophy transcends the conventional, recognising that while modern tech, especially React & React Native, is a game-changer, the real revolution lies in combining cutting-edge technology with effective processes, creative exploration, and strategic foresight.

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