How much does it cost to make an app?

How much does it cost to make a website like Flipkart or Amazon, Etsy or Airbnb maybe?

Am I being ripped off when that freelancer online quoted me 10 times lower?

These are few of the most common question that our domestic entrepreneurs/prospects throw at us often – However, there is no straight answer, young star. The average price for a quality application (mobile or web) could be as low as $5000 USD to as high as $50,000+ USD amongst skilled Indian development firms; whereas offshore,  in US or UK, the cost median is a minimum $100,000 USD and goes as high as a million or two. The famous Angry bird android app, had apparently cost the founders $ 1,45,000 USD. The ongoing development maintenance for Angry bird touches an average $20 million USD a month but the best part, they make X’ times over month after month!

At RDA, we have had the opportunity to work with emerging startup founders from all walks of life to established businesses in the last 18 months, and because of this, we know a thing or two about fair pricing and costs involved.

You’ve got an idea, you have it in your head on how you want the app or webpage has to look like, but really, what should you spend to get it out there into your customers hand?

The primary driver of the price is the cost of labor, i.e man hours put in by a skilled professional into your project. The secondary costs are usually

  • How complex or simple your application is going to be
    •     Games (2D/3D)
    •     Database driven apps (store & retrieve information)
    •     Web-based or fully dynamic apps
    •     Apps which enhance or modify device firmware or hardware (eg. the in-built camera)
    •     Custom utilities or bespoke applications that only you have thought of 😉
  • What functionality, features or business requirement does it handle for your end consumers
    • integrating with Social networks
    • Leaderboard systems to track scores
    • personal profiles
    • realtime messaging, chat etc
  • What level of User Interface design does it require?
    • Barebone
    • Stock
    • Custom design.. and so on

Consider this, a professional android/iOS developer ( 2 to 5 years experience) in an agency would demand anywhere between Rs 25,000 to Rs 60,000 monthly take home with exceptionally skilled full stack developers demanding in excess of Rs 1,00,000 monthly. Not to forget, your designer who is primarily responsible to making your website or mobile app look and feel good demands a median salary of Rs 40,000 for he has invested aeons of time in understanding human psychology, customer demographics, patterns, layouts and usage scenarios. Last but not the least, your project managers who are to do a good job of coordinating between the in-house development team and you, the client, to ensure you project faces success in due time and budget need to be compensated as well.

Considering this, your project would require a designer, a developer, a project manager to coordinate & track development progress, a UI/UX analyst to fine tune the workflow, user experience of your app with those itsy bitsy animations and color splashes need to be assembled and deployed. The organization that provides these super heroes the tools and infrastructure would demand to be compensated with enough profitable margin as well.

Now, making your application requires proper planning, wireframing, UI designs, UX flowcharts, the actual development and testing. It is humanly impossible for one freelancer one man to do all this. So when you are hiring an agency to do your project, you ought to think about the individual efforts and man hours that is spent by your team on your project.


But the freelancer online said it will cost only $600 USD or Rs 40,000 only!

Hold your horses right there!

“There is always someone who is willing to do it cheaper, but remember, your final product will also end up the same, Cheap-ish… And trust us, you don’t want that.”

If you want just “an app” to validate your idea with one or two functionalities, then we would say it is a fair deal. However, if you are talking about the next hottest startup app that is set to be adopted by millions of users worldwide, then you’ve got to give your users exactly that. It would be ridiculous to imagine to be able to build a site like Flipkart or Amazon today as your version 1.0. Why? The reality check – Flipkart, Amazon, Airbnb or Dropbox are here today because of years of development hours put in by 10’s and 100’s of highly skilled developers, designers, AI engineers and Project Managers. For instance, Flipkart or Amazon might look like a regular ecommerce application that COULD be built with woocommerce or Magento, however, scratch the surface and you will know they are much more. Much much more complex, powered by intelligent artificial algorithms, advanced targeting and re-targeting, automated promotions and analytics backend running on large data centers. To build a Flipkart killer or Amazon killer, if not impossible, is a daunting task and will demand millions of dollars poured into the effort. A good starting point is to build a ecommerce solution that lets you do the usual selling/upselling/basic analytics/ cart metrics etc all supported by WordPress Woo-commerce or Magento which could cost you Rs 35,000 to Rs 80,000 as turnkeys or about 650 per hour for customizations.

And it doesn’t stop there, you obviously need to put in more spend on Marketing for your product. More on that later. However, you would spend ONLY AFTER you have built a product worth promoting and would feel proud getting it into your customers hands.

To wrap it up, If you believe in your idea, do not fear spending a bit extra by hiring the experienced firms out there. This also does NOT mean you have to burn lot of cash at the start. Start with an MVP, a minimum viable prototype that you can show to your prospects and validate the business. Seek investments or invest AFTER you know there is a demand in your target market.

We will be writing an article on how to build an MVP in our next series. Stay tuned!

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