Ongoing Costs of App Development
What are the ongoing costs of maintaining an app? We help our clients answer this common question when developing an app together. People must understand that app development, including mobile apps, custom apps as well as website development, does not end at their launch. Still, more work will need to be done on an ongoing basis to ensure that the app is operational, secure, intuitive and valuable to its users going forward.
What are the ongoing costs of developing an app?
Our rule of thumb for app maintenance costs is about 20% of the original development costs (per year).
Most average app owners spend around $600 (for only essential support services) to $3,000 - $5,000 and more (a month) to maintain their app.
Hosting makes your app accessible to the public. When we pay for hosting, we pay for space on the hosting provider's servers to store our files and make them available to our users' computers through the internet. These files make up the software (e.g. all the text, images, and the actual code). The cost of hosting depends on the following:
- The amount of storage and memory being rented - media-rich apps will require more storage.
- Location - where the server is located (country).
- Security of the server
- Performance (speed)
- Scalability - is there an ability to quickly add more memory and storage space when needed?
- Brand - is it hosting provided by an established brand by a lesser-known provider?
Each app, based on the needs of each client, may suit different hosting configurations. We at snapio work with all major hosting providers, including Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and Google Cloud. We can match each client's most appropriate hosting choice to ensure value for money.
Having some issues or errors in the functionality of the app is unavoidable. Unfortunately, the reality is that there is no such thing as bug-free software or hardware. Even multi-million companies like Google, Uber and Airbnb always have bugs that they are constantly dedicating time to fix.
App owners need to ensure that they have enough budget for the ongoing fixing of bugs. That's because the cost of fixing bugs varies widely and can range from just 10 hours worth of development to a whole team of full-time developers. At Snapio, we tailor different bug-fixing support levels that balance value for money and app efficiency.
Every app uses at least one external API (read more about APIs here). Examples of such APIs are facebook, mail delivery service, payment gateway, eCommerce platform like nopCommerce and more. These APIs are constantly updated to ensure a smooth provision of services. Therefore, all apps that use the old API version may no longer be operational and must be updated to remain compatible. That's why updating your app to accommodate those changes is essential. The more integrations software has and the more often the third-party API is being updated, the more API updates will be required. Generally, monitoring of API compatibility is recommended at all times to ensure that there are no unexpected surprises.
Common third-party costs would be things like SMS delivery service, email delivery service and payment gateways. These services are provided by other companies that require a payment for licensing, commission or a cost-per-usage payment in exchange for the continued provisions of their services. These costs are to be paid to the service providers directly and paying those bills on time are paramount to the continued uninterrupted operation of the app.
Some level of monitoring, even if minimal, is always recommended to ensure that loading times, lags, and responsiveness issues are not impacting the app. More complex monitoring will mean better visibility over retention rates as well as conversion rates and engagement rates. This will allow app developers to pinpoint areas of Improvement and new features.
Infastructure Maintenance (DevOps)
The maintenance, configuration and fine-tuning of infrastructure services and hardware are required from time to time. For example, the upgrade of the operating system of servers, reconfiguration of settings, running a backup of the system and more. Those ad-hoc items are necessary and must be performed by a system administrator or DevOps developer.
Mobile App Specific
Mobile app development may carry a few additional costs:
- App Store Developer Fee - an annual/one-off fee that Apple Store and Google Play stores require. This fee is around $150 - $250 and is payable to the app store directly.
- Operating system version updates - iOS and Android, as well as other platforms, are operating systems that constantly update. A new version update is released at least every year, requiring all apps to ensure they are compatible with the latest version. Sometimes these updates cause a significant amount of changes.
- Submission for Review - marketplaces like App Store and Google Play are closely controlled for quality. With each app update, developers are required to go through a preparation and submission process before it can be thoroughly reviewed by the Apple and Google team.
Other ongoing costs
- Ongoing Improvement - Even with the most thorough research and planning, it is impossible to predict how the app will be perceived in the real world by its users, so flexibility is critical. Once the app is released, real-world feedback from users starts to pour in and can then be used to create next-stage plans based on what people really need. These costs are not compulsory and would absolutely depend on the personal approach and budget of each app owner.
- Marketing & Customer Service - Even the best app in the world is useless if nobody knows about it. While marketing is not a direct cost of developing an app, it is crucial to its success. Therefore, we recommend app owners be aware of the costs of marketing activities, including market research, building a brand, establishing a social media presence, advertising and more. Once again, these costs are not compulsory and would depend on the personal approach and budget of each app owner.
Building an app is very similar to building a house - even after the building is complete, it's essential to regularly clean, renovate and adhere to council rules. Ongoing costs of app and website development include hosting, bug fixing, third-party service usage costs and ensuring continued compatibility with their APIs, infrastructure monitoring and maintenance. Mobile app development has additional costs like app store developer fees. These additional costs can often be overlooked, but they are critical to keep in mind.