How Much Does a Mobile App Cost?

The title of this article is one of the most frequently asked questions by clients & entrepreneurs alike.

The question is driven by the mobile app craze which does not look its going to subside any time soon. According to “smart phone users spend 89% of their time using mobile apps”. As per same report “worldwide mobile app revenues is expected to reach $77 Billion by 2017″. These numbers look extremely promising, and its no surprise that clients & entrepreneurs want a piece of it, to engage their customers or as a new business venture…

My answer is always the same and is simply: What is your objective?

Is the app going to solve a “Pain” that your prospects are facing? Is it an interactive game; are you going to be selling online, or is it a tactical app for an event – Exhibition… etc.

In addition to the above questions, there are a number of other factors to consider before making up your mind:

Speed of Access: Content on a mobile optimised site can be accessed through a simple search, or a click on a URL, as opposed to an application where the user has to first download and install the app, before accessing the content.

Search: Mobile websites are much easier to find via search engines, and Google (starting April 21st 2015) will give higher ratings (and accordingly position on first page) to mobile optimised / friendly sites (not applications).

Compatibility: When building a mobile app, at least two operating systems will be addressed; namely Android and Apple “iOS” – while a mobile optimised site will be compatible with any screen size or operating system. In addition, mobile websites have a URL, which makes it easily integrated into any type of mobile marketing initiatives, i.e… SMS, QR Code, NFC… etc.

Sharing: Mobile websites can be simply shared or book-marked, accordingly has a much broader reach than an application.

Shelf Life: According to numerous sources, almost 50% of downloaded apps are deleted on the first day and around 35-40% of the remaining apps are deleted within 30 days; unlike a mobile site which cannot be removed from your phone. Please check your phone for the number of apps you actually use on regular basis for further proof on this point.

Time Investment: The time (and consequently money) needed to develop an application is by far greater than a mobile website. Even with the “template” based apps, it requires more time and money to develop, test for compatibility (and bugs), deploy to the corresponding app store & most importantly marketing (pushing for downloads).

Does this mean that apps are no longer needed? Absolutely not, apps are very much part of the fabric of the mobile life we are currently living; yet it has to have a purpose or address a certain pain that requires the user to be hooked to it. For example, is an amazing on the go service that requires an app; Amazon has one fantastic application for shopping;… etc

Inspite of the above, the question of app vs. mobile site will probably linger on for quite some time to come, there are many resources to help you decide; so make sure to gather enough information before going forward.
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