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The Cost of Apps Development

February 12th, 2012

Rob Fahrni

I’ve been an iOS developer for the better part of four years now. Most of that time has been spent doing my own thing, but I’ve done work for others along the way. At one point a few years back I was bidding on some jobs for a games company. I sat down, looked at the document they’d given me, and wrote up a proposal.

A wonderful boquet of flowers.A couple days later I received an email back saying they thought my pricing was too high. Too high? Really? Basically they wanted to pay me about 1/3 what it would cost to develop the application. When you’re excited about doing work for someone and they come back at you with something like that, what do you do? You let the work walk out the door, that’s what you do.

It seems I’m not alone when it comes to people undervaluing the work of iOS developers. There is a really well know Mac and iOS developer, Craig Hockenberry, who chronicled on the true cost of creating the Twitter client, Twitterrific.

“With such a short schedule, we worked some pretty long hours. Let’s be conservative and say it’s 10 hours per day for 6 days a week. That 60 hours for 9 weeks gives us 540 hours. With two developers, that’s pretty close to 1,100 hours. Our rate for clients is $150 per hour giving $165,000 just for new code. Remember also that we were reusing a bunch existing code: I’m going to lowball the value of that code at $35,000 giving a total development cost of $200,000.” – Craig Hockenberry, 10.13.2010

I’m not sure if people think it should cost less because these applications run on a small device, or because the app store has turned into a $0.99 thrift store, but the truth is we’re professional developers. This is what we do for a living. You should expect high quality work with all the spit and polish you’ve come to expect in applications you make your living using. I’m not saying we deserve it, I’m saying we strive to earn it. If we don’t deliver what you expect, with the quality you expect, you won’t be back. That makes me work very hard to deliver something you’ll be very pleased with and proud of.

Recently another developer, Kent Nguyen, shared his thoughts on the subject and does a great job pointing out how complex applications can become. It adds up rather quickly.

“The process is not a simple one and I usually guide/educate the client through all the considerations using the following steps” – Kent Nguyen, 01.31.2012

This is a great source of information for anyone trying to decide if they need an iOS application. Know what you’re getting into, before you get into it.

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