It is often the case that after an initial and very short conversation with a prospective client on the functionality of a desired app, I always get “What does it cost to develop an app?”   The most ethical answer is, “I don’t know.”  Full stop!  For a custom software development company, this question can be frustrating.  But after working with numerous clients to build their mobile apps, I can better understand their point-of-view for needing an estimates of cost. 

As a staring point I might say the following to get a sense of the mindset of the person asking:

The actual cost of a custom mobile app will likely be between $20,000 and $1,500,000 depending on the complexity of the app.

No much help really and it should be no surprise that it is impossible to price the development of an app without knowing the scope and complexity of the features needed.

On Shore, Off Shore Costs

It also matters where you have the software built.  If you intend to use offshore developers, and are willing to risk the entire project to get lower costs, that is an option.  If you intend to use an experienced competent app development company like Software Ops, then you will lower your risk of to almost zero but will pay higher price for the effort. Higher only compared to cheap high risk offer shore development. Compared to US based resources, we're very affordable. 

I have listed below some custom app pricing guidelines, but first let’s discuss a few important concepts. All these are costs of software development even before our developers create the project in their development tools. These actions all take time and energy of our development teams.

Baseline APP COSTs

Creating great mobile app platforms is more then jumping in with coding it takes significant effort just to start a project.  Below are a few things that need to happen just to get started:

  • Product Design - I can’t possibly give you a meaningful price for a custom mobile native app without first going through a product design process that results in a wireframe document. There is a fee for this process. 
  • Setting Up Accounts - If you don’t have an Apple iTunesConnect account or a Google Play account, you will need them. If you are building out a ful platform, you will need other services like Amazon Web Services and/or Heroku to run you cloud services.
  • Source Code Repository - We create a Git source code control repository so we can track the changes of the code during development and ensure the code is protected from loss.
  • Agile Project Planning - A project manager begins the planning effort with our client and our development team.
  • Story Creation - I have to bring my app developer(s) up to speed with the concept, and put the “stories” into our agile development system so we can build it as fast as possible and as correctly as possible for our clients.
  • Quality Assurance - We have our QA specialist become involved as we create the stories in our agile tool so all the details of the app are understood prior to seeing the first iteration build of the app to test.


Actual software development may be the most expensive part of a mobile app system project, but success only happens with expert help from the other disciplines including, graphic design, project management and quality assurance. When reviewing the items below keep in mind, all those efforts are included in the price


Product Design

$5,000 - $25,000.  The range depends upon if it is a simple app or needs cloud services.

Product Design is the process of identifying the product requirements of a client in such a way as to ensure that Software Ops understands their needs and is able to reflect that back to them in language and written documents. The process also includes innovation where SoftwareOps brings it’s knowledge of mobile and cloud technology into the process.

Product Design is a practice that produces a new satisfactory situation of a “good enough” understanding of the software to be built.  Completion of the product design effort produces a situation that allows for Software Ops and our clients to start the action of software development.

App UI/UX Design

$5,000 - $40,000. If you want your app to have a UI/UX that is tops in the market, it has to be designed with fonts, color, animation and depth.

UX designers are primarily concerned with how the product flows in concert with the targeted functionality of the app.    The fundamental responsibility of a UX designer is to ensure that the product logically flows from one step to the next as it is being used by the target user. UX designers explore many different approaches to solving a specific user problem. 

UX designs follow design specifications such as the Apple Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) for iOS and the Material Design for Android OS created by Google. But a given problem has no single right answer.

Simple Native App

An app that doesn’t talk to any servers and a simple design, $15,000.

This kind of app really a throw back to the early days of the App Stores where a very simple app performed something very basic. Those days are long gone.

Consumer Targeted Native App

A simple app with a fantastic UI/UX experience, $25,000 - $45,000. Getting color, fonts, layout and animations to be perfect takes massive engineering and design hours, with many alpha builds for our client. This adds up to time, energy, and money.

Connected Native App

An app that connects with your servers using your APIs,  $25,000 - $50,000.  Whenever we work with existing server APIs it takes many hours of coordination just to get it working.  We have to test on your test servers and then we have to test on your production servers.

Native App and Cloud App

An app with a companion cloud service both built from scratch  $85,000 - $250,000. This a very common project for both our enterprise clients and our startup clients. 

Uber Like Platform  

If you want an entire mobile app system created. This means a complex app, with fantastic UI/UX and a custom cloud implementation that manages user accounts, and other features of the system via a web interface. It usually includes a web portal for your customers and your management team. It often includes its own marketing website as well.  It will also include iPhone, iPad and Android apps. As you can see, this involves a lot of work and man hours to produce.  Price tag?  $300,000 to $1,500,000 depending upon what the app actually does. Yes,1.5 million dollars.