Them: So what do you do for work?
Me: I develop apps.
Them: Really? I've got this great idea for an app…

I've lost count of how many times this exact conversation has happened, but believe me, it happens ALL the time. Something that happens a little later in the conversation is a discussion around how much it costs to build apps, which is when things get interesting.

Whenever I have a serious enquiry from a prospective customer looking to have an app developed, I ask them if they have a budget in mind. Most of the time, the answer is 'no, can you tell me how much it would cost?' I then reply, asking them for even a ballpark figure of what they plan on spending and at this point, I get the feeling they think I'm asking this so I can get them to pay that full amount they mention for the app they want – this is somewhat true, but only in a good way. Let me explain.

Many people think apps are very cheap to build, maybe a couple of thousand dollars. This is of course true… if you are wanting an app that only costs a couple of thousand dollars. For that kind of money, you will get something VERY basic – I'm talking VERY basic. It hasn't been professionally designed, it's not going to be tested across a huge variety of devices, won't support older and newer devices (and operating systems), won't have different phone and tablet versions and quite possibly won't sell many copies. But it will cost a couple of thousand dollars, and that's the goal, right?

The better approach is to decide on a budget up-front and work the idea backwards from there so by the time the scoping part of the process is done, you have a very clear idea of what you are going to get for the budget you have allocated, and if the end result doesn't meet your expectations, then it's a matter of either increasing the budget to get the functionality you want, or accepting the functionality that CAN be delivered within your budget constraints.

I've read some really good articles on this subject and a couple of them which stood out to me can be found here:

The first article says an app costs "about as much as a car does, it just depends on what you want." Spot on! If you want a 1994 Civic you can have it cheap, but if you want a BMW, Audi or Lamborghini, your budget will nee​​d to adjust accordingly.

So keep that in mind next time you have a great idea for an app, and by all means if you do have an idea, drop me a line and I'd be more than happy to discuss it with you further, just have a budget in mind first.

In case you're wondering, at +Platinum Apps we've developed apps that cost as little as $5k, several around the $20-$50k range plus some in the $100k+ category, so whatever your idea or budget, we can help. #apps

Q: “How much does an app cost?” A: “About as much as a car.”
Custom designed App icon above by Alex Lakas, Creative Director @ DarwinApps How much does an app cost? It costs about as much as a car does, it just depends on what you want. “I just want an app and….