Quick Answer: App development costs in Australia range widely from AUD $25,000 to over $200,000 depending on the business size and the scope of services required i.e. app complexity. Understanding cost factors is crucial for businesses looking to develop their desired app.

“Innovate or die.” As a sentence, it’s a bit dramatic. But the sentiment is true.

Like it or not, the government, health, education and non profit industries in Australia are leaning more and more digital. From embracing a full digital transformation to trying to create a better system to benefit their communities, organisations in these industries face high stakes and unique challenges with significant, real-world impact.

The post-pandemic era has accelerated the digital transformation initiatives across these critical sectors, underscoring the importance of custom mobile and web apps that can handle complex tasks and ensure data security while providing accessibility to users with diverse needs.

The decision to invest in custom software is less about cost and more about value; these applications offer long-term benefits such as operational efficiency, scalability, and the ability to innovate—a necessity for organisations intent on keeping pace with technological advancements and regulatory changes.

However, the landscape of app development in Australia presents its own set of challenges and opportunities. Factors such as local development costs, adherence to Australian data security laws, and the support of local tech talent play significant roles in the planning and execution of development projects. Each of these elements not only impacts the upfront investment but also the long-term viability and success of the developed applications.

What’s in this blog post?

Why should your business develop an app?

With over 6 billion smartphone users across the globe, overall mobile app revenue is expected to double from $218 billion in 2020 to $613 billion in 2025.

In other words, consumer behaviour is shifting, the business of apps is booming and there’s never been a better time to get yourself on the app store.

Increase engagement with your customers, clients, and employees
Smartphone use is at an all time high. By making your business accessible on a mobile app, people can engage on the fly, without switching devices. Removing a significant barrier to access can significantly increase engagement from your customers, clients, or employees.

Increase brand recognition
In a similar vein, when your brand is visible on a mobile device, your audience will see you more often. Given an average consumer needs to be exposed to a brand at least 7 times before making a purchase, why not put yourself directly in their pocket?

Increase internal efficiency
Of course, not all apps are customer facing. Internal apps can be used to improve workflow efficiency and adoption, which can save your business money and resolve employee pain points, which usually translates to better output and higher talent retention rates.

Unlock new revenue opportunities
Customer facing apps unlock a world of new revenue opportunities. Aside from giving your customers a more convenient way to purchase, apps can also provide you with valuable data and analytics which you can use to inform your marketing campaigns. Depending on your business model, you could also look at membership models, integrated payment systems, loyalty programs, affiliate marketing, advertising, and sponsorships and partnerships.

Although apps are easier to use, people do have to find, download, and sign up to them first. Which means app users are a highly engaged audience and are more likely to be better qualified leads. With a little up front effort, apps can get you significantly higher conversion rates than a website selling the same thing. In fact, a study by Criteo found that conversion rates on apps were three times higher than mobile optimised websites, and 1.5 times higher than desktop browsers.

So what’s the average cost to develop an app?

As with most things, there’s no simple answer to the question of how much it costs to develop an app. And a quick search online will show you estimates that vary wildly. Some claim simple apps can start at $5000, some say they start at $50,000.

In 2023, the actual average cost in Australia to develop an app was between $45,000 and $240,000. Let’s look at those figures in some more detail.

  • Simple, proof-of-concept apps ranged from $25,000 to $50,000.
  • A small app averaged between $50,000 to $125,000, or between 500 and 700 work hours.
  • A medium sized app ranged from $125,000 to $200,000, or between 700 and 1200 work hours.
  • Large apps with complex features cost $200,000 or more, or more than 1200 work hours.

The four biggest factors that influence the cost of developing an app

1. Feature requirements and structural complexity

The most obvious factor when it comes to determining the cost of developing an app is complexity. Simple apps with basic functionalities like timers, calculators, and lists, require less time and technical expertise than complex apps that involve real-time tracking, data analytics, or multiple platform integrations.

Other factors that can dictate the complexity of your app include:

  • What does your app need to do?
    Understanding the core function will determine necessary features and help guide the overall scope of work.
  • Who is the target user?
    Understanding the target user and their needs will also help guide complexity.
  • What kind of user interactions will be supported?
    How will your end users interact with the app? A more complex user interface such as animations, custom controls, or interactive elements will require more complex planning and development.
  • What other systems or applications will the app need to integrate with?
    If the app needs to integrate with existing databases, internal systems or third-party services, these considerations will
  • What type of data will be collected, stored, or processed?
    Data management requirements can quickly make an app more complex. If sensitive data is being handled, the app has to be compliant with Australia’s strict cybersecurity regulations. It may also require extra levels of user verification and sign-in mechanisms.
  • Are there any real-time data functionalities?
    If your proposed app involves chat functions, live updates or any kind of real-time tracking feature, this will involve more complex back end infrastructure.

See it in real time

Check out how we built a web app that integrated with systems from several different universities and research institutes to create one streamlined search function.

Monash University

2. Supported platforms

iOS and Android apps are written in different programming languages. If you want your app to be available on both operating systems, you can choose between coding natively or using a hybrid method.

If you choose the native option, your app developer will have to build the front end of the app twice. Once in Java or Kotlin (to support Android), and once in Swift or Objective C, to support iOS. Both front end apps will likely be able to share the same back end, so that won’t have to be coded twice as well.

Your other option is to get a hybrid app built. Hybrid apps use technologies like Javascript, HTML and CSS to allow the app to emulate how the software needs to behave on different platforms. This method allows your app to work across platforms while skipping out on the custom coding.

While choosing a hybrid app might seem like a great way to save on some costs, native apps tend to have much better speed and performance. Hybrid apps’ performance relies on each user’s browser speed, which means different users may end up having wildly different experiences using the app.

Native mobile apps are developed for one specific platform, usually either iOS or Android. If you want your app to have broader reach, hybrid apps have one unified codebase designed to work across any operating system.

3. Sophistication and Phases

Ever written a text message, looked at it again and rewritten it a couple more times before sending? Just like texts, apps get better the more phases they go through, each iteration bringing a higher level of sophistication, functionality, scalability, and improvements on user experience.

Many organisations will first release a simpler, lower cost version of their app to act as a proof-of-concept. The benefit of this is that you can get hard data from users and the market to understand if your app idea is viable before investing in a fully featured app.

4. Local vs Offshore App Developers

The final major determining factor in the cost of app development is, of course, the cost of the labour. There are significant debates around the pros and cons of using offshore developers to reduce costs. Common concerns around offshorting include:

  • Quality
    Offshore developers may not have the same rigorous quality standards as a local team. There’s also the potential that nuanced requirements could get lost in translation, or cultural differences may result in a UX and UI that doesn’t match your intended target audience.
  • Project management difficulties
    Language barriers and time zone differences can make the experience of managing communication, collaboration and feedback throughout the project more difficult than necessary.
  • Security limitations
    If your project involves any kind of sensitive IP, offshoring may bring up concerns around data security– companies that use offshore developers are 31% more likely to experience data leaks or IP loss.

Local teams, on the other hand, are more likely to share a cultural background, making communication and problem solving more smooth, as well as being able to gain a deeper understanding of your target audience.

While the onshore vs offshore choice is for each individual to make, here at Conduct, we strongly believe in the value of using local development teams. Pragmatic considerations aside, local teams bring an incredibly valuable duty of care. And when we say duty of care, we mean forming the type of relationship where the team is invested in your success and provides strategic input and advice to help you get there.

In summary, local teams are invested in your success. Offshore teams are invested in producing exactly what the scope of work requires in as few man hours as possible. Whatever you decide, we strongly recommend basing your decision on quality, expertise and experience rather than simply location and pricing.

How much does it cost to develop an iOS vs Android app?

While developing an app for multiple platforms can require a greater investment than just choosing one platform, there’s no real difference in the cost of developing for one or the other.

That being said, there are a few more factors that can come into play here. The range of devices that run on iOS is quite limited, while the range of devices that run Android is significantly more diverse. While the cost of the actual development might not differ, app development for Android might need more time to test and optimise, which could increase your spend on the overall project.

Android also allows for greater customisation in the design and user interface, while iOS has a more standardised design system. Some might value the flexibility, even if it takes a little more design and development time. For others, a standardised system will do the job just fine.

How much does it cost to develop a web vs mobile app?

When you’re new to the app development world, getting confused about the difference between web apps and mobile apps is an easy mistake to make. In the simplest terms, a web app is a website that responds to being viewed on a smartphone. This doesn’t just mean getting smaller, it can mean adapting functionalities, buttons, and design to make more sense on a different sized screen. Web apps are accessed by a browser, are not native to any system in particular, and don’t need to be downloaded or installed.

If you went to your phone, opened your browser and logged into Facebook, that would be accessing the Facebook web app which is a noticeably different user experience to when you open the Facebook or Messenger mobile apps – even if you’re technically accessing the same social media platform.

Web apps and mobile apps both have their pros and cons. Here are some questions to guide you in deciding which one is the better option for you.

If you…

  • Want to launch quickly
  • Want to reach a broader audience
  • Are planning on updating the app often
  • Are targeting an audience that primarily uses desktops…

A web app might be a better option for you.

On the other hand, if you…

  • Want the best performance possible
  • Want to be able to send push notifications
  • Want people to access your app offline
  • Need to access specific phone native features e.g. navigation or location-based elements
  • Are targeting an audience that primarily uses mobiles
  • Want people to access your app several times throughout the day…

A mobile app will suit you better.

How much does it cost to develop an iphone vs ipad app?

iPad and iPhone apps run on the same operating system, which means most of the code can be the same for both apps. The main differences lie in the screen size, and the typical ways people use the devices. Both these factors will influence UI and UX, and can impact the overall complexity– and therefore cost of your app.

Does it matter which language my app is developed in?

Sure does.

As mentioned above, different operating systems work best with different languages.
Apps on iOS work best when written in Swift of Objective-C.

Android apps usually go with Java or Kotlin. Flutter, React, Native, .Net Maui, and Xamarin can generate code for both platforms.

That being said, the best language is the one that will produce the most appropriate results. A performant game app and a data heavy business app will need different tech stacks to support the end users’ requirements.

You also want your app coded in a language that is easy to maintain– one where you can easily find developers trained and experienced in the tech stack, plenty of hosting providers who can host it, and easily accessible support and documentation.

We prefer an open source language, or at the very least one that’s supported by the governing body and has active support for patches and security fixes.

.Net Backend on modern IAAS or PAAS managed cloud hosting with React web and React Native Mobile clients ticks all of the above boxes. When we take on a custom app development project, we take into account all of the above factors and put together the most appropriate tech stack.

Are the average app development costs different in different industries?

Industry alone doesn’t determine how much it costs to develop an app. However, if you look at the broad similarities in complexity and functionality, you can see a difference in average cost.

A digital process automation solution averages around $300,000, but a mobile banking app or telehealth app averages only half that.

A typical mid-market ecommerce portal, for example, costs $250,000 on average while an inventory software for a large enterprise can average between $250,000 and $400,000.

An operations management app with mid-range complexity averages between $200,000 and $400,000, as does an automated accounting solution.

On the lower end of things are native mobile apps for things like field service, eCommerce, and booking and ticketing– averaging $30,000 – $70,000. And on the higher end, there are big data solutions which start at around $800,000 and can go up to $4,000,000.

How much capital do you need to develop an app?

To answer that question, first you need to estimate the cost of the development (or ask for a quote). Add the following items into your budget, give yourself some wiggle room, and that’s how much capital you need!

Server fees
Once your app is developed and launched, you’ll also need to budget for ongoing server fees. The server stores, processes and transmits your user data and impacts your app’s performance, reliability and scalability. Depending on your apps’ complexity and the size of your user base, server fees could be anywhere from $10 to $10,000 a month.

Developer accounts
Both the Apple and Google app stores require you to have developer accounts. Google has a one time fee of $38, while Apple charges a $150 per year subscription fee.

Maintenance
Basic ongoing app maintenance is important to keep things up to date and operating smoothly. As you get user feedback and usage data, you’ll also likely want to make updates and add more features. Major system updates from Apple or Google might also leave you with an unexpectedly high maintenance bill to pay. As a general rule, it’s good to have 10% of your total budget kept aside for maintenance fees.

Marketing
It’s common sense to have a separate budget for marketing your app, but it’s still worth mentioning here. Once you’ve built it, you still have to proactively get it in front of your target audience.

Third party services
Third party services can reduce your overall development cost by providing pre-made functionalities. If you do use them, keep in mind that they may come with their own subscription or usage gees.

What are the risks involved in mobile app development?

When it comes to safeguarding your investment in a mobile app, there are three main things that can go wrong.

  1. Rejection or removal from the app store or marketplace.
    There’s nothing worse than pouring resources into an app that doesn’t make it onto the marketplace. All app submissions are reviewed for safety, performance, design, security, and legal matters. It’s worth working with an experienced team to make sure you submit a quality, compliant app that gets accepted the first time.
  2. IT Security
    Data security is a top priority and any breach will have you scrambling. Not only will you have to act fast to fix the issue, but it can have long lasting damaging impacts on your brand reputation– you’ll have to pour resources into reassuring your user base again.
  3. Low engagement
    Poured your heart and soul into an app and it just…doesn’t take off? There’s always the chance that everything you invested will be for nothing, although proper user research, design, testing, and marketing can help make sure this doesn’t happen.

How to choose the right app development team

Choosing an app development team is just like choosing who to outsource anything to.
You need a team that:

  • Has experience in your niche
  • Has the technical skills to build out your requirements
  • Has the knowledge to guide you through difficult decisions
  • You get along with and can easily work alongside

It’s always a good idea to have a face to face chat with a team you’re considering working with so you can ask them about costs, timelines, processes, workflows and discuss any post-launch support and maintenance options.

How can I reduce my app development costs without compromising on quality?

In 2023 alone, the iOS app store had almost 7 million app submissions reviewed, and almost 1.8 million submissions were rejected.

  • 1.13 million were rejected for performance issues
  • 103, 629 were rejected for safety issues, and
  • 295, 497 were rejected for design issues

So if you’re thinking about how to reduce your app development costs, you want to make sure that you still end up with a good quality app.

There are a few ways you can approach reducing your app development costs without compromising on quality. Broadly, you can approach it from a technical perspective and from a project perspective.

Project approach to reducing costs

One way to cut down costs without imparting quality is to make sure you run your project as efficiently as possible.

Don’t skimp on the planning phase
Spend enough time in the planning phase to clearly define and prioritise your features and requirements. Changing the scope of your project part way through and be an avoidable expense.

Get professional advice
If you need to reduce the scope of your project to fit your budget but can’t figure out where to start, consider hiring a professional for some advice or a one-off coaching session. Alternatively, a more experienced team should be able to conduct a discovery phase and advise you on how to get the best result for your budget.

Go with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
You might have big ideas for the features and functionalities, but which ones are necessary to launch with? As part of your planning phase, define what your MVP looks like and create a roadmap for what can be done now and what can be done later.

Optimise your processes
From design to development to communication, don’t forget to think about all the other details that go into a project like this. Make sure you have defined processes for clear and consistent collaboration and communication. More experienced teams will likely have set processes to help the project run smoothly, which can save you time and headaches. Agile methodology is generally accepted to be the most effective approach for custom app projects.

Do it right, do it once
There are some things that you can’t afford to go cheap on. A more experienced team might look like a bigger up front investment on paper, but they’ll be able to work more efficiently and produce a higher quality app. Investing in high quality, research-backed UX and UI from the get go will also help you minimise any reworking that needs to be done in the future. With 37,000 new apps released onto the iOS store in February 2024 and an average of 1609 apps being released on the Google play store daily, you need good design and usability.

A note on offshoring
It might be tempting to choose an offshore team to save on costs. However, offshore teams typically come with a variety of issues which end up blowing out your anticipated budget. Common issues include poor communication and unresponsive developers, poor quality code, buggy apps that need repair or rebuilding, and blown out timeframes. Not to mention the significant efforts needed on your part to manage and oversee the project.

Technical approach to reducing costs

Choose the right development approach
Rather than developing the front end twice for different operating systems, using a cross-platform framework (like React Native) means your developers only need to write the code once.

Go Agile
There’s a reason Agile is the preferred project method for app development. If you’re not familiar with it, it breads down the development process into small, focused sprints. The sprints mean the developers working on your app can put all their focus onto specific features and functionalities, delivering them to a high standard before moving onto the next piece.

Go hybrid
As mentioned earlier in this piece, while native apps do tend to have better speed and performance, choosing to go hybrid is a perfectly acceptable and cost effective alternative. Developing a hybrid app instead of native means you can use one codebase for both Android and iOS, reducing your overall expenses.

Test early and often
The earlier you catch any issues, the better. Once your app has launched it gets exponentially more expensive and difficult to fix any bugs. When considering your budget for developing an app, remember that the costs don’t end once it launches, but they can be minimised by doing things thoroughly the first time.

Why is app development so expensive?

It really comes down to the labour costs. When you take into account the research, planning, design work, programming, testing, debugging and deployment, the price shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, developing a quality app is an involved process requiring considerable time and effort from several people with in-demand specialist skills.

Final thoughts: App development costs

To sum it up, investing in getting a custom app developed is a strategic business move and the costs involved need to be considered in the context of the long term value it can bring to your organisation and your people. Whether it’s enhancing operational efficiency, improving customer engagement, or unlocking new revenue streams, a well-developed app can be a game-changer in today’s digital landscape. By understanding the key factors that influence development costs, you can make an informed decision and produce a high-quality app with plenty of impact.

At Conduct, we believe in the power of local expertise and strategic partnerships to deliver apps that not only perform but also drive innovation and growth for your business. If you’re ready to take things to the next level, book a call and let’s chat about your ideas, goals, and how we can bring them to life.

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Simon Krambousanos

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