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This is a common question that comes through our office. The app industry is something that many people are very alien to and is something that is still a fairly new feature to the technology world.

In essence, by asking how much is an app is pretty much the same as going into a Vauxhall garage and asking “how much is a car?” In this scenario the car salesman would look at you very odd and wonder if you are being serious. However in our industry it isn’t a ridiculous question and as I said before, this industry is still very alien to a lot of people. This is understandable as if you look at the App Store all apps look similar and don’t look like there would be much price variance.

So why does the price vary so much?
There are various reasons for this. The first being to do with what you would like in your app. If you are looking for an app that shows off the companies information and contact details with a few images thrown in to illustrate your company further, then the price wouldn’t be any more than a couple of thousand to develop. But if you came to an app development company and asked for a clone of an app like instagram, this would not be the same scenario and you would looking in the tens of thousands price bracket (in instagrams case probably a lot more!).

Apps require a high level of coding (what the app requires to make it work), and this means that it can take weeks and sometimes months to fully develop a reasonable sized app. This is where the pricing comes into the app. Developers want to be paid (however I think sometimes they will do it for free – they seem to love it that much!) and in simple terms the amount of hours that the app company predicts it will take them will relate to the price that it will cost to the client. Apps are very complex and so to make a fully developed app is never going to take a couple of hours!

Another reason why the price varies is due to what devices you would like your app to be on. The app world is constantly growing and since it all started for us in terms of apps four years ago, we have seen several new application stores pop up. App stores are not universal and relate to the type of operating systems. The most popular systems are; iOS (iPhones, iPads, everything Apple…), Android, Windows & blackberry. I personally promote iOS and Android operating systems to clients. This is due to these two systems holding 93.9% of the smartphone market with windows and blackberry holding 5.3% combined (figures as of November 2013)….So I think you can see why I suggest these two.

Apps have to be developed pretty much from the start again for each operating system as the code is completely different for each system (they like to make it easy for us!). The price is subsequently increased based on the amount of operating systems you require. Using our company as an example, we tend to use iOS as the starter and then add a percentage on top of this for each extra operating system.

Why do different companies charge different prices?
For some of the companies, this is the same as you see price variations on Chocolate, cars, games, etcit’s just the way it is. This is discussed on how to try and overcome this problem and to get the most for your money in the post “Protecting your app idea while it’s still an idea!”.

However, a variation in price is a lot of the time justified. If a company quotes £3,000 for an app and another quotes £20,000 – I can guarantee these apps won’t be the same. It’s all about quality. The same way as an iPhone 5s costs more than a Nokia flip phone, it’s about the quality of the app that you will be provided. Some app companies develop in a a way that is is essentially a website that is put inside an app. This will be closer to the £3,000 mark (probably less) – but this is different to developers who charge a higher price than this.

Using our business as an example; all of our apps are built from the ground-up, completely bespoke apps that don’t come as a shelf package. This obviously takes more time; but we felt from early on that it was better for the client to choose exactly what they wanted in their app, with the exact designs and exact functionality rather than building all our apps in templates. If we chose this the client would be restricted to the way the template was built in the first place, and not have their own app the way they exactly want it. Apart from dedicated coding, we also spend a lot of time on the usability of the app; to make sure it is user friendly and make sure it’s not an app that users struggle to navigate around!

Another factor that comes in with variation of price between companies is overheads. Quite simply the overheads vary depending on the location a business is based, and the prices to the client are changed accordingly to cover their costs. A London firm will have a much greater overhead than a company like us who are in Devon – but have the same level of skills to produce your app. This is something to look out for and always best to get two quotes from similar businesses; one from a big city and one from the countryside, just to make sure you are not paying more than you need to be.

Overall, the price of an app really does depends on how much you want in it and what markets you want it to be shown to. A good app development company should guide you on the optimum you can put in your app with the budget you have available.