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How Much Does It Cost to Outsource an App?

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With most Americans spending a lot of time on their smartphones, great apps tend to turn outstanding products into multi-million-dollar businesses. Many business owners first consider building their own app in-house, which is a reasonable option if you already have the time, technical skill, and resources. If you’re looking to hire developers and build an in-house team from the ground up, however, you may have your work cut out for you. 

Interviewing, management overheads, and acquiring full-time employees for every skill you’ll need tends to slow down the app development process. While you’re still figuring out which front-end developer you’ll hire, your competitors could already be in the Alpha testing phase. You may eventually need an in-house team, but outsourcing your app development is a great option when you want to hit the ground running. You communicate with one person, get one invoice per month, and—best of all—a team of vetted experts are working on your app. But how much does it cost to outsource an app?

If you’re in the States, the cost to outsource an app may range from $5,000 to $250,000. A wide range of factors are behind this massive price difference. If you take complexity into account, outsourcing a simple app that displays information may cost between $5,000 and $20,000. A medium complexity app that collects information and has a database will likely cost between $20,000 and $50,000. High complexity apps that need to integrate payments and several backend platforms range above $100,000. These estimates are just simple guidelines of what to expect. In this article, we’ll provide a clearer picture of how much you’ll likely pay for your app. 

Why Outsource App Development?

Before we discuss the fair market value of outsourcing an app, let’s check out the scenarios where you do away with the entire bill. Outsourcing is generally not a good option only if you can build an app yourself and have the time and resources to do so. If your business has a tech-savvy co-founder or already has a capable in-house development team, then you can do away with outsourcing. Lastly, if you’re not entirely sure whether or not there’s a solid business case for your idea, then you may want to hold off on outsourcing an app. 

Business owners that can’t code, don’t have an in-house team, and definitely don’t want to invest time in coding lessons may want to consider outsourcing. By outsourcing your app, you can bring it to market much faster. You also won’t need to deal with the HR nightmare that comes with hiring an exceptionally talented team of developers—think benefits, vacation, developing a modern work culture, managing projects, and more. You’ll be able to instantly tap into an existing pool of expertise for a lower cost than that of hiring. Best of all, you’ll have plenty of time to focus on other high-value tasks like marketing and seeking investors. 

Industry Specific Cost for Outsourcing an App

As we mentioned before, the cost of outsourcing an app ranges from $5,000 to $250,000. While such a cost disparity may seem absurd at first, it begins to make sense when you break down all the aspects of building an app. Imagine asking how much it costs to customize a car. You’d likely want to get some specifics on what exactly you’re customizing. If you just want to slap on a few decals to add a bit of character to the paint job, then you’re looking at a few hundred dollars. But if you mean rebuilding the engine, transmission, suspension, getting a custom paint job on a sports car, then you easily jump into the $20,000+ territory. The cost will also depend on factors like whether you’ll get the job done by a professional tuning company or by your neighborhood mechanic. In general, the more stuff you want to be added to your app and the more expertise it’ll require, the more it’ll cost. 

Apps in the same industry tend to have the same features and price tags, and generally require the same amount of time to develop the app.  You can, therefore, estimate the cost of outsourcing an app—to a decent degree—based on your target market. A messaging app, whether for internal company communication, forums, or security-conscious consumers ranges from $15,000 to $50,000 for it’s full development. Adding features like video streaming and calls, file sharing, and photo editing all make the app more complex and expensive. An e-commerce app, on the other hand, may cost between $10,000 and $20,000. An online shop doesn’t need to be very complex in its early stages. Once your idea blows up, you can always invest in upgrades and an in-house team of developers. A taxi booking app like Uber costs from $20,000 to $100,000. Integration of geolocation, calculating optimal routes, payment systems, and combining multiple routes for ridesharing makes such an app much more complex. 

As you’d probably imagine, these price ranges depend on many more factors in addition to the industry. Outsourcing your app in Asia or Africa will likely be cheaper than in the US or UK. Depending on the specific team of developers, however, the product quality may be different. Web apps are mostly cheaper than native iOS or Android apps. Changing project parameters midway can also significantly add to the total cost of outsourcing your app.

Basic Takeaways

If you need an app for your business, outsourcing to a development team can help you put your product to market much sooner. Outsourcing can also significantly reduce the cost of developing the app. The cost of an app developer will depend on numerous factors—what type of app do you want, what features do you need to be integrated, where’s the development agency you’re working with based, what’s the purpose of your app? 

Whatever your answers may be, it’s vital to start with a basic app and add updates once it’s up and running. Also, conduct thorough background checks and, instead of chasing the cheapest option, negotiate with the best developers. If you can’t bring the total price down, you can work with milestones and pay over time.

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