Hidden Cost of Mobile App Development – Unravel the Truth

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There is no doubt about the fact mobile app development is a very profitable niche. The reason for this is very simple, mobile apps make it very easy for businesses to get in direct contact with the users.

Apart from this interaction, businesses are gaining profits from providing users with everything at their doorstep.

Do you want to order a ride? Go ahead and call an Uber or Careem. Want to have food and can’t go out? Perfect! Grab your phone and order your favorite meal via Food Panda. These apps and so many more are the reason why it is projected that the revenue from mobile apps will be around $188.9 billion by the end of this year.

Just like any other field, the app development agency is also faced with many legal constraints and requirements. Even though the entry is easier as compared to other fields, it does not mean that there are no legalities involved.

The legal considerations need to be kept in mind for running the business successfully. Big misconception businesses have is that the legal handlings are the responsibility of the app development firm they have hired to develop their app.

The top of the line firms do offer to tackle the legal side of the development process, but there is an extra fee for that. Moreover, from the moment you get an idea or come up with the name of your app, you need to trademark it. Otherwise, someone else can take the same name and own it legally

What is App Development?

App development is developing apps for mobile devices and smartphones. Already knew this, did you? Well, many other people also assume that app development is only limited to making the app and that’s it. Wrong!

A major chunk of the time goes into maintenance and further improvements. This is why the total costs come as a shocker to most people. You need an app for different platforms. This is why the cost of app development for these platforms is different. In this estimate, we are going to tell you about the basic apps with standard features.

  • Android apps cost you around $23,000
  • IOS apps cost you around $25,000
  • Windows app development is the cheapest, costing you around $18,000

Process of Mobile App Development

Development is just the initial phase that only takes up 35% of the total cost you are going to bear. If you have a medium-sized app, it will take around $5,000 to $10,000 per month just for maintaining the application.

The yearly cost of maintenance and updating can go up to 50% of the total cost of developing that particular app. Isn’t that surprising?

The Elephant in the Room – Hidden Costs

Are you wondering what are hidden costs we are talking about? These are the unforeseen expenses that can arise during the app development process. Today, we will be talking about the major hidden costs you need to be aware of. Broadly, the hidden costs are divided into the following 4 categories.

Functional: This includes push notifications, SMS etc

Administrative: These include managing the users, making app updates etc

Infrastructure: These include CDN’s, servers etc

IT Support: Costs of updating the application, fixing bugs etc

Let’s look at the 8 major hidden costs out of these categories.

7 Major Hidden Costs of Mobile App Development

1. Releasing the App on Different Platforms

Have you ever thought that once you develop an app, where are you going to sort of publishing it? Of course, your app will be published on different platforms. For this, you will have to incur some sort of costs. For example, you can choose between

  • Google Store
  • Apple Store
  • Amazon

True, the cost of placing your app on these stores is not too much, but we can’t ignore it either.

  1. Google Play Store: Google Play Store charges $25 for only registration of your developer account. Doesn’t seem too high, right? But, it is should be added to the total budget. Moreover, there is a 15%-30% additional fee for transactions of your app like in-app purchases, subscriptions etc.

Adding up, isn’t it? Next, you can also end up paying extra development fees. There is a proper approval process you need to clear before your app makes it to Google Play Store. If it does not meet those requirements, you will need to tweak it here and there. Of course, you are going to spend money on it.

  1. Apple Store: Yearly, Apple charges $99/ year as a one-time fee so does Amazon.

Lastly, there is a very long list of things you need to have before your app can make it to one of these stores. Out of this, things like title, description, etc don’t need any money. On the other hand, copyrights, privacy policy and other legal documentation can take a lot of money.

So, it is important to keep this hidden cost of publishing your app in different stores in mind.

2. Marketing – Spread the Word

Did you know that more than half the apps don’t even get opened more than once? Yes, however surprising it may be, it is true. So, marketing your app properly is as important as developing it.

Properly planning and executing marketing strategies is important if you want to keep and make sure the user is going to use your app more than once. Again, this does not come free; marketing has a hefty price tag attached to it.

The simplest and basic PR can cost you $5,000 to $10,000. Some companies spend even more than $10,000/month to ensure that their mobile app stays at the top of the game.

3. Maintenance – Keep it Going!

Throughout the life of the app, it needs to be maintained and updated. To keep a competitive edge, you need to keep polishing it and bringing in something new. Usually, the app development company will provide this service but it is not always the case.

This is why, at times, some people end up flabbergasted by the high cost of the monthly update, maintenance and technical support the app needs. In case the app development company is providing this service, you need to discuss the cost beforehand.

TIP: If you are getting the mobile app developed from somewhere, it is wise to pay them a little more and ask them to include maintenance and updates. This way, you won’t have to spend an arm and leg every month for these services.

4. App Security – Keep it Safe

Are your users sure that they are surfing your app securely and safely? How can you assure them that it is safe to use? Following security measures are going to cost you money and need to be taken into account beforehand

  1. Third-party firewalls and security tools are a hidden cost that increases your overall development cost.
  2. Code reviews can also spur the total cost of development.

5. Servers and Hosts

Did you know that you need a proper place to store your data? For this, servers and hosts are required. All the data related to your apps like graphics, texts and pictures are stored on servers and every app has a backend server attached to it. Otherwise, you can end up losing all data in case of an emergency.

Even though it seems simple and cheap, it is not. Giants of the industry like FaceBook spend a staggering $1.5 billion/year only to store data on different servers.

6. Administrative Cost

Undoubtedly, the hardest to predict, it is the most expensive hidden cost you can end up paying while developing a mobile app. There are so many different costs that will apply to different apps with different complexity levels. Some of these costs are as follows:

  1. Developing the admin panel
  2. Custom API’s if your app needs them
  3. Content management etc

All these small can end up costing you roughly $6,000-$10,000/month.

7. Testing

Are you going to just develop an app and spend a big chunk of money just to realize the app does not meet your standards? For this, it is important to invest money in testing the app before you push it into the market. Bearing this one-time cost can end up helping you save thousands of dollars!


The aim of our article was not to scare you away from mobile app development. But the aim is to make sure you don’t end up spending more than the others. Now that you know all these costs and the hidden costs, you will be able to make a proper budget and stick to it.

No more surprises when it comes to paying! To gain profits, you need to have an updated and fully featured app and that is going to cost you money. There is no doubt about that. But, knowing beforehand how much you are going to pay is a sort of relief, isn’t it?  After all, knowledge is power and this power will allow you to gain a competitive edge over others.

You can manage everything side by side and not end up worrying about where the next dollar for investing in the app is going to come from. So, let’s get down to rocking the world of mobile applications!

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