Costs of geo-awareiPhone app development
May 31, 2011 8:08 AM   Subscribe

This stackoverflow post suggests budgeting $150 per dev hour for a top quality iPhone app, and a total cost, including design, of $50,000 to $150,000 for the project. What can I expect to happen to this cost if the app is meant to link, bi-directionally, to a geodatabase of user observations, and display them over an e.g. google map layer? And how might this change if the app were Android?
posted by cromagnon to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Add a couple of hundred dollars for monthly hosting (depending on number of users). Being on Android should have little or no effect on developer costs.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:33 AM on May 31, 2011

You realize that $150k is 3x of your low-end? Are you designing the backend too? A good point the article makes is that the Twitterific app was going off a solid API that handled the backend.

It is not clear if this is the case for you, but even if you had a simple service application storing a comment and the location, that's still going to raise costs considerably as you're now having to figure out how to do user signups, authentication, etc. Nothing that is technically challenging, per se, but just adds to the development costs.
posted by geoff. at 8:37 AM on May 31, 2011

I'm not sure how to answer the first part of your question ("what can I expect to happen…") -- do you want some details on how the RFP/bid/development process usually goes? Or are you trying to nail down costs more clearly? I run a consultancy that does custom development (including some mobile work) so I can probably help if you explain a bit more clearly what you're looking to get answered here.

As for Android vs. iOS: iOS developers are very much in demand right now, so $150/hr sounds about right. More, even, if you want someone really good. Android, on the other hand, is a vastly smaller market but one with more qualified developers (being Java vs. iOS's ObjC) so my experience has been that the going rate is lower (more like $75-100/hr). However, Android develop is more difficult than iOS development (particularly when it comes to testing), so an equivalent app can take twice as long or more. Thus, although I'd expect a lower hourly rate for an Android developer, I'd expect a higher overall cost.
posted by jacobian at 8:42 AM on May 31, 2011

It's impossible to say how much your app will cost, even approximately, without a lot more detail.

My company also does iOS contract work, and as part of that we have to come up with estimates for potential clients. Writ large, that process has two components:
  1. how complicated is the app, and what are its features?
  2. how complicated will this person be to work with?
Do you have a written spec? If so, you've provided very useful information about both these questions. If not, we'll need to talk with you by phone to try to tease out what you want, how much you understand what you want, and what it will be like to work with you.

My first reactions to your question were (a) he knows how much good developers cost; good, and (b) $150K is about 6 months of work. You can do a pretty significant amount of work in 6 months. There's even time to change your mind.

On the other hand, it's a client-server app and we're implementing both sides. That's a lot of work, and it requires a lot of QA.

How well do you understand what you want? The more unknowns there are in your mind, the more expensive it will be to build the app; there will be more trial and error.

So in the end it really does come down to the details. You could certainly do an app that has those things for $150K. But you could also spend an order of magnitude more.
posted by alms at 10:08 AM on May 31, 2011

You may be able to reduce your costs pretty substantially by finding a developer who can do the client with Titanium Appcelerator. It allows an average Javascript hacker to create iOS and Android apps simultaneously and often with fewer bugs, since there are fewer details to manage in code. There are other app builders like it, but IMO, none quite so simple. And in the hands of an above average Javascript programmer (which is more common than an above average Objective C programmer), you would expect a high quality outcome at a cheaper rate.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 3:59 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

That's hugely helpful everyone - including the couple of reply offering services. It's a government grant funded project, so I'm marking this resolved whilst the application is being considered, and if successful I'll be back in touch. Thanks again!
posted by cromagnon at 7:02 AM on July 4, 2011

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