iPhone Development Costs

Sep 7, 2010 - 76 Comments

iphone development costs Ever since Apple introduced the App Store, there’s been a gold rush of sorts to the iPhone & iOS platform. With the release of the iPod touch and iPad, interest in the devices has only grown, but unfortunately so have development costs. So what is it going to cost you to get that app developed for the iPhone? It depends on a number of factors, so here are some numbers on hourly and project rates to give you an idea. It’s generally not cheap, but there are some solutions for affordable app development.

FYI, I’m going to refer to the iPhone here but obviously this pertains to the iPad and iPod touch just the same, it’s all the iOS platform.

iPhone Development Costs

It’s no surprise that iPhone developers are short on supply and high on demand, and naturally this means it’s going to cost quite a bit to develop an app. There’s really two routes to go if you’re looking to have an iPhone app developed; you can pay a contractor hourly, or you can pay a flat bid rate from either a company that specializes in app development or to an outsourced agency that pumps out apps.

Contract iPhone Development Hourly Wages

For developers in the USA and the EU zone, it’s not unusual for an iPhone developer to charge well over $100/hour to do contract iOS development, but realistically the hourly range is anywhere from $50/hour to $250/hour, with experience and name recognition usually setting the price. The hourly costs have been this high for going on two years now, and given the limited pool of dev talent it’s no surprise that it’s a developers market. If this is completely out of your price range, read on and you’ll find cheaper solutions thanks to outsourcing to overseas developers.

iPhone Development Project Bids & Rates

Coming along for the iPhone ride are a number of boutique development companies that focus only on mobile app work. If you decide to go with a company that specializes in iOS development you’ll likely be given a flat project rate that covers all the development costs. Depending on which outfit you go through, you can get a decent deal this way or be in for major sticker shock. Here are some examples:

Relatively Simple or Small App: $3000-$8000 – this is based on a sample of data from TechCrunch that polled 124 developers, and found the average development cost was $6,453. This is in line with what LOLerApps paid for the development of their app called Baby Maker, which isn’t terribly complex and cost around $5000 via outsourcing on ELance. After 50 days LOLerApps sold just enough copies of Baby Maker to break even on development costs, which isn’t terrible but who knows what they spent on marketing and advertising the app.

If you’re interested in developing an iPhone app and want a realistic assessment on sales numbers and development costs, LOLerApps is amazingly candid and their blog is well worth a read since they share just about everything.

More Complex or Recognized Brand App: $50,000-$150,000 – it was reported that the official Barack Obama app was developed in 22 days at a rate of $100-$150/hour, with roughly 500-1000 hours put into the app. The Obama app isn’t simple but it isn’t as complex as some of the other apps out there, so I imagine some of the costs here are scaled up based purely on the recognizable brand associated with the app itself.

The bottom line; if you’re looking to develop either a very complicated app, or you’re a large recognized entity and looking to put out an iPhone app, it’s going to cost you some serious cash.

App Development = Expensive: Is it Cost Effective?

The big question remains: Is app development cost effective? This really depends on so many factors that it’s impossible to answer for everyone. Things to consider when you ask this question are: which category of app you fall into, how strongly you feel about the idea, how complex the app is, and what your marketing budget looks like.

A post on O’Reilly Digital Media blog sums up the situation for higher expenditure apps:

a full-time contract iPhone developer costs $5,000/week and it may take four to six weeks for an application to be developed. Sometimes it will take less and sometimes it will take more. Add to development the other costs – project management, design, QA, and marketing, to name a few. It’s not uncommon to spend $30,000 and up on an iPhone development project.

You’ll need to run the numbers yourself and see if it makes sense. It’s obviously not cost effective to spend $150,000 on development and marketing to sell only 2000 apps a year for $1 each. The solution might be to find a cheaper route to get your product to market.

Outsourcing iPhone App Development – the Most Cost Effective?

Before you get totally discouraged with some of the costs and numbers, realize that you can certainly find cheaper app developers, particularly if you outsource the development through a site like ELance or oDesk, where you can get experienced developers in India, Russia, and Ukraine, for as little as $15/hour. Outsourcing has it’s own pros and cons, and I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it’s a worthwhile approach for your apps development. The big advantage of going the ELance/ODesk route is obviously price, you set a flat budget and have developers bid proposals for the project, which will save you a lot of money.

Keeping Development Costs Low

Regardless of which approach you take, it’s best to have your idea as fleshed out as possible so there is little question in terms of what you want. The more details you can document and explain the better, a developer can’t read your mind but will certainly charge you while attempting to. Any ambiguity on things like the apps functionality or GUI just leads to longer development time and ultimately more money out of your pocket. Be as specific as possible, sketch out the functionality in something like Visio clone for Mac, and be very clear when communicating your vision.

Developing an iPhone App Yourself

Of course the other option is to just learn Cocoa and Objective C and write an iPhone app yourself. If you decide to go this route, be sure to download and install the iPhone SDK first, and then pick up a good book on the topic, like Beginning iPhone 3 Development: Exploring the iPhone SDK. This certainly isn’t the easiest route, but it may be the cheapest if you are technically inclined.


Related articles:

Posted by: Manish Patel in Development, iPad, iPhone


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  1. ideacipta says:

    how about iphone in 2020 now

  2. Mike Jobes says:

    I think iPhone app development can cost between 5000$ to 50,000$. Pricing vary from apps to apps but on average one can have iPhone app in that range.

  3. Oliver Dodson says:

    The budget completely depends on the complexities of the idea, versions, time and the developer as well. If the developer has a history of delivering good apps or complex apps of course the budget will increase. In example of messaging app development like WhatsApp the average cost for developing an effective app for Google Android is usually between $30,000 and $170,000, go to the article to see infographics

  4. I feel that the hourly quote of the development is not that important, especially since a good developer can make in one hour the same progress as a less experienced one would do in 10.

    At Appnific we charge 40$ per hour, which we believe failry reflects the value we provide.

  5. […] iPhone Development Costs – OS X Daily “it’s not unusual for an iPhone developer to charge well over $100/hour to do contract iOS development, but realistically the hourly range is anywhere from $50/hour to $250/hour” “Relatively Simple or Small App: $3,000-$8,000″ “More Complex or Recognized Brand App: $50,000-$150,000″ […]

  6. CubeYourMind says:

    Developing applications in countries like Poland can lower total price of App – we have lots of talented and experienced engineers, graphical and UX designers working for a bit lower amount of money :) – we do games for us and apps for our Clients and as far as I now we provide high quality for less money.
    But still … the times when you can develop app for $5.000 are fare behind us – now we require more quality and experience from devs, and (unfortunatelly) we have to pay for this :)

  7. Dan says:

    I cant agree more. That Obama mobile app development, might seem expensive but think of the outreach to the “ipad generation” a huge niche in his campaign.

    We do apps like this all the time, the more complex, the more cost – of course – but also the more chance of going viral.

  8. […] you’re spending the time and money to develop an iOS app, don’t skimp on the icon. This may sound like silly advice, but the […]

  9. Kloon says:

    Comparing costs leads to nothing if you are now taking into consideration what is included.

    Are the hourly rates really only for coding. What about the professional graphic design and not to forget the testing and QA. For the lowest price to normally hire a developer and all the rest is for the customer to come up with.

    If you want to hire the complete package the prices are higher. Quality is not free and nobodies time is. Also if you go with a company that stays around, you can later go back to get updates (new versions of iOS or changes to the app). If you you work with some student who does it in is free time, you’ll get a low price, but may be not the best design, not the best coding and may be not the best maintenance after the initial development.

    We are also one of the outsourcing companies providing development services for mobile devices (iPhone, iPad (iO), Android and Windows Mobile). We provide professional graphic design and QA for our customers. We have our developers based in Vietnam but are a European (Swiss) company to bring both together, the lower cost, while maintaining the idea of quality.

  10. Michael Scheelhardt says:

    Hi how much does it cost for the license to develop an app for iOS and for Android?

    Does Apple take a share of the sales that comes from selling an app through the app-stores?

  11. I just outsourced my first iOS app after developing them myself for years. The cost was surprisingly low–around $1,000. I don’t know if this was partly because I was able to provide clear direction on the development, not on how it should be done, but I did not change my mind on requirements during the process. I think the developer, which I found on oDesk, did a great job managing the project, and gave me prototypes of the user interface to choose between–which is certainly better than I expected for that cost! The free version is here is you want to see–I think this was definitely worth the cost: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-magic-camera-free/id481940663?ls=1&mt=8

  12. […] will say one thing: developing a good custom app will cost you close to six figures, and you will need to do it two or three times (iphone, android and let’s say blackberry, but […]

  13. […] App can go as much as 50K. The spread is too much actually…A good read on cost part is here: https://osxdaily.com/2010/09/07/i…A good read to know the best ways to find out and hire a professional developer company to build iOS […]

  14. […] a survey of 96 mobile app developers showed the average cost to develop an app was $6,453.  An article on OS X Daily about iPhone Development Costs reported that the development cost range for “small apps” is $3,000 to $8,000 and that “more […]

  15. arvind says:

    Hi All,

    I have worked in india for 4 years. and I totally agree that in india ppl are paid very less of what they are charged and moreover they are like sweat shops.

  16. Jared says:

    Helpful. Surprised that the average cost of a “simple” app is still several thousand. I wish there was a way to know how simple my idea actually is!

  17. […] average market rates for an iPhone developer is in the range of $100 – $150 per hour.  This is because iPhone […]

  18. For almost two years, we have executed and gone live with several apps across multiple platforms. We have done this for customers of various sizes- early stage california start ups to Global 2000 corporations. Almost all of our projects have been delivered on a fixed fee basis. It was based on our confidence /understanding of what was required that we fixed our fees.No ambivalence there. All of our engagements were delivered out of our own development center and by our own staff. Most importantly, we never lowballed on rates- unless it is an investment into a long term business relationship involving multiple engagements both on mobile and web technologies. In return, we have not had a single customer whining about lack of quality or responsiveness or whatever cliched conspiracy theories are out there about outsourcing shops.No customer , not a single customer has thrown us out. And, hey, we are growing like crazy :-). Live and let live. Its a nice world out there.

    • Tim says:

      Can anyone provide an indication of any on-going costs once the application has been developed. eg; support, maintanence etc

  19. ExperionGlobal says:

    For almost two years, we have executed and gone live with several apps across multiple platforms. We have done this for customers of various sizes- early stage california start ups to Global 2000 corporations. Almost all of our projects have been delivered on a fixed fee basis. It was based on our confidence /understanding of what was required that we fixed our fees.No ambivalence there. All of our engagements were delivered out of our own development center and by our own staff. Most importantly, we never lowballed on rates- unless it is an investment into a long term business relationship involving multiple engagements both on mobile and web technologies. In return, we have not had a single customer whining about lack of quality or responsiveness or whatever cliched conspiracy theories are out there about outsourcing shops.No customer , not a single customer has thrown us out. And, hey, we are growing like crazy :-). Live and let live. Its a nice world out there.

  20. […] to go to (perhaps on the net) to research this information. I found some information here… iPhone Development Costs […]

  21. From my experience:
    – many companies start with signing NDA and then didn’t allow you to say that you made anything for them (even if you make graphics), so basicly they play with big customers and small companies work as employees

    – if you want to get rates like 100-200USD /h you basicly need to move to hi tech country, and step by step move from man in the middle to the source (of just have luck)

    – Indians need micromanagement, it’s different culture and they are not always top coders, just take a look at top coder results and compare india and Poland, Russia or US to India:

  22. Paul says:

    One more thing. Our quality is PERFECT. We have a zero-defect policy and fix any defects for free if they occur because of a failure on our part.

    We only take customers that need their software to work perfectly out of the box. We also employ the latest development methodologies, can deal with anyone in an organization up to CEO level and have an extensive partner network with integration and business operations specialists. We don’t just bang out a crappy app on Titanium or in HTML5 and call it the day.

    Our customers demand the highest quality and want people that can show up at their office on demand. Why work for cheap customers that can’t pay well or on marginal value projects?

    So many of you that work on price alone need to think about how truly pathetic that is. Why not work on creating high-margin truly valuable software? Or is it because you all have no talent?

  23. Paul says:

    Wow. A great deal of misinformation here.
    I own a small development company that writes native iPhone apps for enterprise customers and fortune 500 clients and they regularly pay over $125 an hour for my work. Many of them have been burned by off-shore indian and chinese body shops. In fact I have more work than I can handle and juggle 3 or 4 projects at a time with my partner and I pulling down over 40K a month.

    You guys working for $10 an hour are idiots. IDIOTS. Complete utter idiots. Stay slaves.

    Even if my projects only last one or two years more before rates go down I will have made more than you will in a life time at your rates. Think about it before you post your stupid drivel.

  24. […] quadrillion gazillion infinitiy downloads, which sounds about accurate. So the next time you start pouring money into iPhone app development, take a look at some of the apps out there and run the formula, it’s not perfect but […]

  25. RickR says:

    The article is spot on, however we develop iPhone Android, Blackberry(OS6) and Windows7 app and base the rate on “complexity” and size, so a smaller non complex app would get a rate of maybe $50/hr or less but a complex larger project would require $100/hr.

    For example if the NDK is required, the app is probably more on the complex side.

    — Rick

  26. […] a survey of 96 mobile app developers showed the average cost to develop an app was $6,453.  An article on OS X Daily about iPhone Development Costs reported that the development cost range for “small apps” is $3,000 to $8,000 and that “more […]

  27. mousebird says:

    I’m an ios developer and I fall on the higher end of the scale, though not on the very top.

    I’ve worked with a lot of off shore development houses and I’ve come away with mixed feelings. If the job is fairly straightforward and very well spec’ed, it can work out okay. If it is not well spec’ed or requires any algorithmic development, the project is likely to stall or fail.

    The people I’ve worked with are fairly reputable and not the very cheapest. I can only imagine what you get for the lowest rates.

  28. Jon says:

    This looks interesting…I cannot believe that in the UK the people still find 40 pounds an hour expensive for iphone dev. Most of the clients I have find 50 pounds way overboard. I believe £50 /hr is still relatively cheap.

    • sky says:

      Hi, I am IOS developer, I have one year of experience. I am getting very low hourly rates $12/hour. I want atleast $20 or above. If you have any jobs then plz provide me so that i can develop my skills.

  29. iDev says:

    I know this is not rebating blog, but It’s begin observed that wherever you find Indian Management systems, it’s totally begin corrupted. They are begin more interested in Management politics & not in giving good sensible output.

  30. […] This obviously isn’t the same as having a dedicated iOS app, but a decent mobile user experience from the web is a good idea and it avoids what can be the high price of developing an iOS app. […]

  31. Steve Sykes says:

    This is about the major “Cons” of Offshoring your App development.

    I have a small company that does customized iPhone and iPad development. I am working hard to control my cost and offer a fair competitive price. My fear is that companies (especially larger corporations) have forgotten about balancing the bottom line, with maintaining a standard of good jobs and standard of living in the U.S. We need to start to actually put the U.S. first, and if nothing is found in the U.S. then ship offshore.

    This may sound protectionist, but lets be honest, thats what is happening in India, now that the Chinese are players. I have been to India, and remember everyone that it is based on a Caste system with the haves and have-nots. Lets not ruin our country making a few in India very wealthy while the programmers are earning pennies.

    Also if you have any security or important data in your App, would you feel very good about an App being built in any part of the former Soviet block, where their TV stations make hero’s out of people that set records in stealing money from U.S. citizens from identity theft.

    Something to think about when you are considering outsourcing.

    • DJ says:

      You obviously have never been to India,have you? Your reply was total BS without any trace of reality in it. There is obviously a gap between have and have nots but what this has to with a developer developing iOS apps. For fcuk sake your offshoring will not increase that gap. Now being an Indian I just dont have iota of trace that how caste system fits in here. As a software developer I can tell u that when we work here in IT co’s caste is not even the last thing which is discussed. Why the fcuk it wud matter ? An India although geo-politically still close to Russia, but who discusses Russia here? We dont give a fcuk what Russia does as long as it does not effect us. Regarding identity theft, do I remind you that Identity theft is more prevalent in US then in India. Do a SSN Identity theft n u wud know what I m saying.An identity theft is an identity theft, whether it happened in US or India it does not matter. And who told u that we make heroes out of identity theft. U need to give ur frustration a valid reason so that u can let it out. Work hard the way indian developers do. The other primary reason (first one is cost) why the software development work is getting offshored to India is Quality. And mind you, the wages here in India specially in IT is not that low. There are lot other destinations where you may hire a cheaper developer but still world is offshoring services to India.

    • sid says:

      I’m a Indian iOS developer working on iOS apps for more than 2 years now, and I want to share my personal review about the development process I’ve observed in my country(And its nothing to do with the caste system BTW :)).
      Why am I doing this? because as a human being I feel sorry for people out there in US investing so much and getting so little at the end.
      I’ve worked in till now with 4 companies on full time or part time basis and I’ve to agree that nobody really cares about the quality any more, there is a simple mathematics that works, more projects = more money.
      And whatever money the company makes the developers still get the least.
      The last company I worked for had the following money making strategy(and it worked awesome!):
      1. They had 2 sales offices in US, New York and california, where they used to get hunt for people looking for iOS developers.
      2. They excelled in gaining confidence of the client, that they can do the job. Showing some magical past experience on many technologies and amount of years they’ve worked.
      3. They had a fix advance payment (something in 4 figures I guess), even before initiating the project.
      3. Then they used to pass the project details to the India office. Now the fate of the project depends entirely on the skills of developers, most of who are having their first time experience with mac OS.
      4. The company has usually decided a monthly payment from the client, and if its late by a day the project is put on hold.
      5. And the main thing is nobody isn’t really concerned with the success of the projects, or how well it does on the app store. If there exists a easy way to the task, the company goes for it, or if the client misses out an bug, it remains there.
      I’m personally so much fed up right now, that for last around 1 year I’ve been rejecting job offers. I don’t want to be the part of this system anymore. So, next time you get a project done offshore(India), do some good research.
      I’m not against offshore development, instead I feel its a excellent opportunity to make the world connect and make technology better (I too love downloading nice apps from appStore), but against few bad companies that make the whole offshore development thing a nightmare !!

      • Amit says:

        Well, I am an iOS developer myself, and I am sorry to hear what all you said, but what you’ve mentioned here is TOTALLY your personal and one of rarest experiences man, please don’t generalize on the basis of your experience with one company only.

        I can’t comment what that company was doing, but let me tell you that if any company wants to sustain in the market, and wants to grow will definitely be taking care of the quality of the software they are creating, who doesn’t want repetitive work from their customer dude? Every good and growth oriented company WILL consider the customer as its top priority and would work hard in a way to achieve a mutual confidence for future work. This is IT industry and not the vegetable market where there are bulk of customers, in IT outsourcing, every good company will more or less be having the same strategy of having lesser customers, but regular customers; you can’t gain new customers every day, so it is required to keep them happy, and good quality work and commitment is the best way to keep them delighted.

        I agree that there are some companies in India and everywhere else too, who are only bothered about the quick money received out of a project, and don’t give a damn to the possibility of repetitive work; but let me tell you that they shut down as quickly as they open and run, else they WILL require to change their strategy. No one can sustain in any industry leave IT outsourcing aside, unless they offer something worth out of what they are charging, and that worth could be quality, could be timelines, cost advantage, expertise etc or a combination of all.

        I don’t know if these kind of companies keep on working for 2 years or not, but so far as my experience is concerned, I’ve worked with top Software services companies in India including TCS, and the quality standards being followed there were awesome. Had there been so much crap in the market as you’ve mentioned, India wouldn’t have been the top IT outsourcing destination since decades!

        I can right now only talk about my company Agicent Technologies, and can proudly say that there could be a chance when any of our customer goofs up in any terms, but so far as we are concerned, we just don’t take their work as an easy game at all; we work harder everyday to make their app one of the best in quality, we talk to them everyday, we consult them in terms of their business needs as well, and try to develop a high quality and scalable software for them.

        If at any point of time, our team is occupied, we straight away tell the customer and ask for a lead time to kick off the project, and we usually charge on milestones basis, and not on monthly basis at all.

        For all others, I would only say that if you are looking for a good iPhone development company, then contact us at sales at agicent dot com at anytime; I’m sure we’ll have some good business term ahead.

        And for Sid, try to get a job in some reputed IT companies in India, your thoughts will be changed, just ignore boutique shops or wannabe software consulting companies. :) all the best…

        • Foncho says:

          Of course there is always the issue of guys that doesn’t have perspective, and claim they are the best of the best when they really are above average, I suspect you are one of those. The data/refferences about previous work on iPhone apps, general information about who and where runs the company and the free-web-template style of the site agicent dot com gives me bad signs all over the place. Sorry to be that direct, but only with words and a basic webpage you can’t convince people youre as good as you say. Not anymore.

          • Foncho says:

            I meant BELOW average, sorry

          • Amit says:

            Well, where did you find me saying that we are best of the best? Technical and domain skills keep on evolving and you can’t take rest at one stage and say that you are the best, so didn’t I say that. :)

            The conversation was more about the integrity, focus on customer benefits and long term engagements, and what I said above was true. I don’t know why and how you took it on the other way around?

            And now, so far as work references published on the website – that’s not a big deal, and we deliberately don’t publicly show that, you meant to say that those who publish are the best??
            Regarding free web template style and website standard:
            – Well I don’t know what parameters you’ve to rate a website, and anyways I’m taking it as a feedback (which sounds a bit biased one ;)), but I hope you know the difference between a corporate website and a commerce one; a corporate website, that too of a services company is better when it’s text based, to the point, and easy to load; this is no free web template btw, we don’t require flashy stuff for our corporate website. :) You meant that having flashy/ animated website (that too of a services provider) testifies the company is good?? I doubt on that…but thanks for your feedback though, am really gonna pass it to the concerned team.

            Regarding convincing people via website

            Thanks for the feedback, even when you were so direct :), but it is beneficial in a way, you can’t make everyone happy always :), but can try for sure. In any case, delivering good stuff is better than displaying extraordinary, and that should be the focus of any provider as you’d agree as well.

            You need not to be sorry, but just figure out that I was not offensive in any of my above posts towards any particular “company” or a “person” and will never be, unless someone has really done some blunder, but I’m still surprised to see that what you wrote so “harshly” and “specifically” as I had done some personal harm to you, which I didn’t do of course. It could’ve been written as a nice feedback, instead of the way it was put.

            There are thousands of dev companies around, good, bad, average and so on; everyone is doing their own set of business, everyone are having their happy, unhappy, stable/ unstable customers, and if someone tries to ethically promote their business and services, is it wrong? and even if you don’t like anyone for any reason, you should follow some good code of conduct instead of trying to malign other for any given reason, I gave my web link, you didn’t, had we been so bad, would’ve I felt confident in publishing my link openly? And even if you’ve given your link, I wouldn’t have posted any bad words for that, either I like that or not. :), it is an open market, so we should be respectful towards others, we are not politicians, no? I hope you synchronize with my beliefs…thanks


      • Jai says:

        4 companies in 2 years! Dude, should we believe what you are saying as true, or considered it as a biased comment, just to defame a specific country’s professionalism, and portraying yourself as a noble person??

  32. […] – No Comments If you’re thinking about releasing an iOS app, you probably already know that iOS development costs are quite high, so you want to be sure you get the most bang for your […]

  33. ha ha thats too high our prices varies from $10-$35/hour

    and regarding these guys who are charging upto $250/hour they just out-source there work to guys like us

  34. Gopi says:

    Hi.. im an individual with an app idea looking for developers. i would like to know if i need to submit it myself on app store or if i can seek the help of the hired contractors in submitting them, since i do not own a mac and also got a real idea about the process. Also what could be the repecurssions on the trademarks n copyrights of the game?? Thanks…

  35. […] and if you’re talented enough with Objective C, you can directly capitalize on the high costs of iPhone & iPad development and make up to $250/hour creating iOS apps for clients. After seeing the iPhone development wages, […]

  36. Robert says:

    Well, that’s a US market – crazy hourly rates are why a lot of companies have decided to off-shore their mobile development to cheaper countries. For example, from what I hear from our clients, Poland has one of the best price-to-quality ratios. Our company does Android and iPhone development and the demand is huge!

  37. […] Patel discusses the development costs of an iOS app. Related: a similar discussion on Stack Overflow with some good numbers from […]

  38. Softical says:

    Rates provided in article are rather over average. Here in Poland we make apps much cheaper with huge quality provided.

    Good idea when a client wants to get good price and quality is to find a company that can do all the research for him and will write complete and detailed functionality specification. If its made proper, client can get it and show to as many developers/companies he want and get precise time and price estimation. We always start from specification with our clients and it helps much both sides – we know what is to be done, client knows what to expect and demand from us.

  39. I specialize in development of data driven iPhone apps, such as event/city guides and commercial apps with social features.

    For my own development work I charge out at a rate of 60/hr, either giving a fixed price quote or hourly depending on the project needs. Im based in Australia, with the bulk of my clients located in the UK and USA.

    Several times, I have been asked to give a consult – ie. to review an existing app code-base or take a brief and come up with a well defined Information Architecure + workflow, data design, deliverables plan and quote. I usually recommend technology options, and mention business and technical issues that need to be answered before development proceeds, as well as identifying any risk areas that should be prototyped up-front.

    One thing to note is how widely the amount of work can vary for the same project, implemented with different approaches – elite developers tend to write much smaller code [ less bugs, easier to change features, faster time to market ]

    From reviewing project code Im often surprised at how large the code bases can be when done with a traditional MVC style approach. Sometimes projects start off small and grow large by accretion, as the data model is never simplified or abstracted as new features added. People tend to not refactor data, for some reason.

    Most developers do now realize the value of JSON feed [smaller data feed reusable over web, iPhone and Android] which is a good thing. I do hope more people will rethink the way they handle data, as Attribute / Graph approaches filter down – the new Facebook Graph json api is a good example [ or will be once the quirks get ironed out over the next few months as more people use it ].

    A lot of data naturally comes in a tree or graph structure, especially social network data. So using a more modern approach should make code smaller and simpler in many iPhone apps – this means tighter delivery turnaround, less project risk and better long term maintenance for most iPhone apps. Good for entrepreneurs and iOS developers alike!

  40. […] iPhone Development Costs It’s no surprise that iPhone developers are short on supply and high on demand, and naturally this means it’s going to cost quite a bit to develop an app. […]

  41. […] or catchy your app idea is if it doesn’t leave a good impression with the user. With the cost of iOS and iPhone development continuing to escalate, learning a bit about user satisfaction is sure to give you an upper hand […]

  42. Egor says:

    The main problem with this article is not the costs given (which are higher than real ones) but that outsourcing equals elance and oDesk for some reason.

    • Dawn says:

      Egor, I hugely agree that outsourcing isn’t synonymous with just two sites online, for several reasons. I’m curious: how did you mean it? I don’t know your relationship to outsourcing, but how would you have liked to see it portrayed?

      My relationship to outsourcing: I work for a site (yes, online) that sometimes gets labeled as the same as the two mentioned in the article. Recently, I’ve begun dealing with non-online freelancers and outsourcers as well. I’m still getting a grip on the similarities and differences.

  43. […] iPhone Development Costs Posted by luismmolina6 at 9:45 pm Tagged with: apple, gold rush, ipad, pumps, sorts, surprise […]

  44. We specialize in custom app development, and it’s been a fun and high pressure market. I worked 80 hours a week on my last project so we could hit the delivery date. I had expected things to cool down but I’m seeing just the opposite. It will be interesting to see how this market matures.


  45. […] article goes into things a bit further and gets into some examples, it can be found here: iPhone App Development Costs […]

  46. […] 0 Comments 7Sep Hello there! If you are new here, you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on this topic.Powered by WP Greet Box WordPress PluginIt’s no surprise that iPhone developers are short on supply and high on demand, and naturally this means it’s going to cost quite a bit to develop an app. There’s really two routes to go if you’re looking to have an iPhone app developed … More here: iPhone Development Costs – OS X Daily […]

  47. @Gary: Totally agree.

    I would like to add one more possibility to the mix.

    It may be easier to find affordable good web developers than iOS developers (or Android or WinMo developers for that matter).

    Frameworks like PhoneGap (http://www.phonegap.com/) will take a web app and turn it into native apps on multiple platforms. For a V1, it may be a good tradeoff between cost and functionality.

    There is also a number of companies that offer “app as a service” products, but I can’t vouch for them.

    A plug for our own offering: if you are looking to build a barcode scanner app, we can publish an iPhone+Android app that runs your web app in an embedded web view. Have a look at: http://www.visionsmarts.com/products/barcodeShell/barcodeShell.html

    • Eric says:

      Although this may be a functional alternative for some situations, program’s such a PhoneGap don’t allow their apps to have full Native capabilities. This puts an extreme limit on what those apps can potentially do. It is more of a native wrapper than a truly native app

    • xcodeeer says:

      phonegap sucks dude ,, you really have no clue what are you talking about here.

      phonegap sucks, i would put a dime on that framework… sucks

  48. Gary says:

    I know of an SF outfit that charges around $50,000 a pop for some pretty basic iPhone and Android apps, all their clients are big names just looking to get into the portable market. I have a feeling there is going to be the same land grab when the Windows 7 phone arrives too.

    The industry is getting more and more complex. I recall an article regarding EA sports and how they are looking to outspend everyone else in the gaming industry to price everyone else out. The App Store is the great equalizer in that anyone can compete, but marketing and selling $0.99 apps against the likes of an EA multi-million dollar budget is very difficult. At this point it looks more like luck for the smaller developers to catch a break, and either be featured by Apple or for a popular figure to recommend the app.

    Personally I think the free app model is dead beyond being a teaser to a paying app, the only cases where free works now are with the likes of Twitter and Facebook where they monetize elsewhere. Yet again though, these are large companies.

    What can the small time developer do? The money seems to be in developing the apps for clients rather than making them for yourself.

  49. Zach Moazeni says:

    Great article on cost, and the first I’ve come across. I’m a iOS developer in the sub-$100/hr range and felt this was spot on.

    However, I’m am consistently amazed by the number of companies who still fix-bid software development. I’d much rather work with my clients and fit the development to their budget on an hourly basis. All experiences I’ve had with fix-bidding has resulted in unhappiness from either my client, or me, or both.

  50. We do this sort of development on American soil all the time. If you’re paying 150k for an iPhone app which doesn’t cure cancer, you’re likely overpaying by 130k or you spent *waaaaaay* to much time directing the project. And you actually get product development and business development advice from us rather than just code.

    Fact is, iPhone apps usually cost 5k-20k to develop *when you follow a hands off process and you listen to your development shop.

    We’re so confident of the range, we actually do fixed fee work on iOS apps because we know this range is complete viable for the V1 of many projects. After your V1 is out, let your revenue decide if the iOS app is something you want to invest in further.

    • Steve says:

      And your company is? Where can I get more information?

      • Sudeep says:

        Hi Steve,

        I represent Agicent Technologies, we are into iOS app development since 2 years, and our rates/ man hour are pretty low (around or lesser than 20 USD/ man hour).

        We are based out at India and NJ, US (sales office), let us know should you have any requirements at sudeep at agicent dot com.

        We also do Android, winmobile, web 2.0, and .NET development.

        Feel free to touch base at any time.

        Take care…


        • Ray says:

          “Represent” is code for working with a programming sweatshop operation in India. You get what you pay for guys. I’d say that 70% of our business comes from fixing apps and websites built overseas by US & UK clients who where penny wise and pound foolish. The lesson is yours to learn or ignore.

          • SD says:

            Sorry, but how can you assume on your own that any software development company in India, or mine specifically is a sweatshop or pays lesser salaries to resources?? Just because of the location we are in? Isn’t it some kind of partiality, just because we are situated in India?

            Btw, we pay handsome salaries as per the cost of living in Indian metros like Delhi, and FYI – cost of living in Indian metros is not 1/6th of cost of living in any developed country, we pay almost 7 USD per gallon of gas, almost double than what you pay in the US, am I right? Thin on it pls.

            There is nothing like cheap cost stuff available in India, if you talk about cities (and btw, software companies in India operate from some prime cities only), and cost of living in these cities is very high than what you assume. More, expenditure of running a 20 seater average office in commercial area in Indian IT cities well goes beyond 8000 USD/ month (only rent and electricity/ backup, security, internet and other basic facilities), so where is the low cost?

            Still we manage to offer our services at around 20 USD/ hour (you can find like 6 USD as well if you are too price sensitive and don’t mind working with individual freelancers) by working hard, smartly, and managing our operational costs with great prudence. It is not always true that you get what you pay for, but you pay at least what is worth and get the quality work in return.

            Let me share with all here that India (or other outsourcing destinations) have many further stratification in terms of outsourcing vendors, there are companies that work for not lesser than 100 USD/ hour, and there are which do it at 8 UDS/ hour, and there are (the most of the mid-size companies catering mid-size/ small/ and start up customers) that work between 20 to 40 USD/ hour. Now if you are not a big fortune company, or a super hit enterprise or an ISV, then going for 20-40 range is the best idea (there you will find as much professional and skilled teams as in 100 usd range), and if you are going for 8 USD slot then beware, because no company in India can survive by charging this rate for any software work (even when you have downtimes to bear) so they get multiple projects in parallel, and the results come what you see. :)

            Regarding screwing up of project – no good company would ever want to screw the projects that it has taken, why would they do that, and lose a customer that comes from an effort of 2 months on an average? The responsibility of failure goes to customers as well mostly, it is easy to just blame everything on developer when the project is screwed, but no one bothers to see the other side of coin, I as a company will never want to lose a good customer, am I right? Let us be more open minded and think other facet of the coin as well.

            Well, projects sometimes get screwed due to unavoidable and unfortunate issues also, and from either end, but what counts is how you managed it together (customer and developer) for a success, compensating the time/ money loss instead of wasting time in blaming and analyzing that who screwed it.

            Even I can like a kid, generalize developers according to their country of living but I won’t do that because good or bad developers can be found anywhere, like good or bad people can be found anywhere. Believe it, we’ve taken many projects that have been left in the mid or screwed up by the developers in the US, UK, from our customers from US and it’s been 2 years that we are working with those customers, why? is it only the rate? I guess no! It was the approach that we have for their work, and the way we assisted them in resurrecting their damaged projects, and the way that we kept ourselves available for them every time they needed our services. It is our BREAD buddy, how can we ever think off screwing the ones who are paying us for our skills and services? A customer can be Indian as well, can be American mostly, can be from anywhere in the world…works has nothing much to do with the location of workers in today’s flat world, an App developed in India for an American Customer is being downloaded and used in Israel, does it make any difference in the user experience so far it is localized well?

            If a customer really thinks that the developer in front can do his job as best, then they shouldn’t push them on rates too much, and genuine customers seeking quality work never do this as per my personal experience.

            All customers are not same, so not developers. :) so I’d suggest everyone here not to generalize on the basis of your personal thoughts only, and on the basis of locations of professionals. The codes don’t get changed from country to country, it gets changed from engineer to engineer. ;)

            Btw, “Represent” there meant that I “Represent my company in this blog” It wasn’t any disguised “code” to misdirect anyone as you assumed and mentioned, and of course I work for Agicent which is why I can represent it, you felt anything wrong in that?

            Peace to everyone!

          • howard says:

            Right on, Ray!

            And not to mention, other ‘copy cat apps’ will probably start showing up after working with an outsourced overseas developer. So keep that in mind also yall! :)

        • BernJ_SG says:

          Wow, 20-seater office at $8K a month including rent and electricity/backup, security, internet and other “basic” facilities… That’s wayyyyy cheap. I don’t see how that would actually cost as much, or more, than prime US cities (no offense, but I am surprised).

          In Singapore, even the not so “commercialized”, but still reasonably popular, areas cost more than that on rent alone, and the office is likely unable to accommodate 20 pax – and we are actually cheaper to live in than the US. I’d face off a raging elephant to secure that kind of operating costs you have.

          • Jai says:

            SD skipped to write that “security, internet and other basic facilities”were excluded in 8K, sorry for miscommunication, and many more operational costs are excluded which only top management/ investors of any company can be able to tell, and am not one of those at all. :) And these costs are decent enough as compared to the average price that Indian companies charge, and the downtimes that they bear (during frequent economical slumps).

            No offenses to your points, and may be you are right in a way, but before concluding, its better to compare that what is being charged and what is being spent. :) And on a friendly note, don’t face off the raging elephant for this, try offshoring to low cost destinations instead. ;) Peace…

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