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How much does creating a mobile app cost? These as well as many other questions are in the minds of many individuals looking into entering this fascinating world.
Apps are growing in popularity as well as demand; the “app-need” is moving both fast and in only one direction.
There are apps for virtually anything and everything, and companies are finding that the development of apps is no longer a question of ‘if’ but of ‘when’.
A whole team is then placed behind the intangible product and at some point an app is born and never literally finished. We live in the world of updates and upgrades, reminding us that we need to strive towards bettering ourselves regardless of which platform we’re using. Long gone are the days in which fixed knowledge, beliefs or even personality ruled our non-app existence.
Throughout the weeks, and as we also develop itcher mag, Daniel will tell us everything about his beloved app: from birth to upgrade, from byte to bug.
PATRI: Hi Daniel! Thank you for the opportunity to have these Q&A sessions which I really believe can help many people interested in creating/developing new apps.
I think the art of coming up with an idea and at some point seeing users enjoying the app on their phones is truly fascinating.
DANIEL: Absolutely, the fantastic thing about the advance in technology is that the playing field has levelled. What I mean is that web, smartphones, (mobile) broadband, social networks etc. have massively reduced the barriers of entry to starting up a business and it has completely transformed the power balance between big established companies vs. start-ups – in favour of the startups!
PATRI: No doubt. In fact, nowadays apps are the bread and butter of new technology (and we’re only seeing the very tip of the iceberg)… how ambitious as well as doable is to set up a project like yours?
DANIEL: Let’s be frank, it’s not a small project. It took us about 5 months to build a minimum viable product (read v 1.0) of itcher with a team of 2-3 engineers and a UX designer.
And once you release, that is just the beginning – you need to be prepared for a lot of bug fixing, new feature requests and improvements, which might mean a release per week, at least initially.
PATRI: Tell us more about your app. In fact, how/when did they idea first come to you?
DANIEL: The idea emerged from a personal problem: I love film, but I’m not a fan of the big Hollywood Blockbusters. In the ‘old days’, when I’d be looking for a good film to watch, I’d walk into a HMV store and go to the the World Cinema-section and browse through the titles.
PATRI: Yeah, I remember those days!
DANIEL: Now that the high-street is nearly dead, there is nowhere to be inspired outside of top charts and vertical specific services (e.g. iTunes for music).
That is how itcher was born: to create a platform of word-of-mouth recommendations and linking users to each other based on their tastes.
PATRI: Word-of-mouth recommendation is simply unbeatable. It carries “trust” all the way through to the product as well as waking up people’s curiosity to new things.
What about your background? Did you have any previous experience developing/marketing mobile apps?
DANIEL: I’ve been working with e-commerce for the last 5 years but this is the first time I’ve been part of a project where we develop something specifically to be an app. More often than not, you start out with a desktop site, then develop a mobile site and only then create an app.
PATRI: It makes sense. Which brings me to the next question which I’m sure many people would hear about. On average, how much does it cost to make an app in the UK? In fact, you’re in the process of marketing yours at the moment, which means you’re really still in the initial stages of the app life.
How much does it cost to build AND launch an app in your experience?
DANIEL: You are not going to like my answer: it depends.
If you create a simple game with little or no server interaction you can probably put it together in a few weeks. But as soon as you start spending time on frontend graphics/design, backend and database integration and third party integration (like Facebook) your scope and time will quickly grow. I would say 4-5 months is a realistic timeframe for an average app. That translates into a cost of roughly £40-80k. And for a more complex app. 6-12 months is not unrealistic.
One additional thing to remember is that these estimates are for building either an iOS app or an Android app. Calculate another 20-30% once you have the app built for one platform and want it for another one.
PATRI: I really like itcher. It has a catchy name, great design and the simplicity of the app in itself plus what it actually does makes it very “tap-able”. What’s your advice for people interested in finding out how to build an app in terms of planning and/or executing the idea? What do you think they need to know before they embark on this type of adventure?
DANIEL: Assuming the business plan is solid with the aim is to add more value than anyone else by creating satisfied clients. There are a few questions to consider:
1 – Decide whether to build the app in-house or outsource it. Both have its pros and cons, but I prefer in-house.
2 – Start by putting together the wireframes (i.e. the blueprints for the user interface and experience) and based on this develop the UX design in Photoshop
3 – Start front-end (translating the mock-ups into functioning user interface code) and back-end (database, integrate 3rd party APIs, server side logic etc) development
4 – Limit the functions of v 1.0, or you will keep adding features to it and never get to the finish line. Once you have v 1.0 out you can refine the product based on usage and user feedback.
PATRI: Tell us a little more about the power behind itcher, as it needs to draw a lot of data from other sources. How difficult was it to achieve this? (permissions, technological impediments, etc you name it).
DANIEL: From a development standpoint, the main hurdles we faced were related to data. We are pulling data from multiple sources and in multiple formats, so pulling all that data together and presenting it in a pretty and coherent manner was very hard. Any time when you are reliant on third party APIs you are at the mercy of the quality of the data that you receive.
PATRI: How would you like itcher to evolve… Well, maybe you have your dreams already in place.. For example, I see people engaging and connecting in a way where they really feel close to the other person. Tastes in music, films, books, etc are extremely personal and it is simply great when you find someone who enjoys the same stuff as you do.
DANIEL: Our vision for itcher is for it to become a destination for not only getting great recommendations, but perhaps more importantly, linking people based on their interests. The old saying “great minds think alike” sums it up quite well: what you watch, read, listen to, etc. tells a lot about us, and this can be used as a tool to link us together and inspire each other.
The aim is to add more value than anyone else by creating satisfied clients.
PATRI: itcher is a free app. But some people might think that to build an app and sell it might be a more attractive option. What are your thoughts around this? How did you reach the decision of marketing it as a free app?
DANIEL: I think it again depends on the nature of your app, but we all agree that at some point, somewhere you need to make money. But whether you give away the app for free and make money on in-app purchases or you sell it for £0.49 needs to be evaluated for each app separately.
PATRI: I’d like to end this session by asking if you would ever build an app for your business in the future/near future. Many people wonder if it is worth spending the time and money developing something that might help their companies be more in touch with the times we live in. What sort of questions should they be asking? What should they be planning for? Is the [near] future seeing apps as part of most companies/businesses’ life?
DANIEL: Is it no longer a question whether a mobile strategy is needed or not, it’s a fact: In 2014, m-commerce will already represent about 20% of total e-commerce. But that does not necessarily mean the every company needs an app. Sometimes a mobile site is sufficient, an in certain industries it might even be preferred by customers.
PATRI: Incredible. And very interesting!
Well, that’s it for now til next session. Have a great time in the meantime… and thanks Daniel! :)