Hidden Costs of Mobile App Development


Mobile apps are extremely popular right now. The number of unique mobile device users continues to relentlessly grow each year. That is making top business owners and investors shift their focus towards employing IT companies for the development of mobile software.

But how do you predict how much a certain project will ultimately cost when doing so? It’s quite a difficult affair. You may already know that expenses usually exceed the initially planned budget and that you may well come across hidden costs in mobile app development.

Further on, we will tell you how to protect yourself from such sudden occurrences and make the most precise calculations.

Issues with mobile app budgeting calculations

When you first meet with IT company representatives to establish your further cooperation, you initially discuss a full set of features for a future application. Based on that, developers calculate an approximate number of man-hours required for the implementation of functionality. The final sum will, of course, be calculated based on corrections and additions.

As an option, you can choose ‘fixed price’ as a payment model. It implies coming up with a single, unchangeable final cost of the whole app implementation process, including mobile app maintenance cost. Fixed price is a good option if you are planning to create something not out-of-the-ordinary and with a predictable and understandable structure.

Nevertheless, no matter which pricing scheme you choose, you must realize that the work of programmers very probably won’t just be coding. Deployment stages and further technical support for the created software are crucial. The vast majority of product owners have to pay 30-50% of the initial budget to maintain working solutions (and we aren’t talking about marketing campaigns intended to make your product recognizable – it’s about its life support).

That’s why we highly recommend highlighting exactly what your hired developer will be doing in the course of working on your project.

Read also: How to Reduce App Development Costs

mobile app development hidden costs

What brings hidden costs?

There are some major services, expenses for which must be separately included in your project budgeting. Let’s take a look at some of those that spawn hidden costs for mobile application development.

Frameworks, tools, and libraries

A good, efficient developer toolset is seldom available for free. You don’t have to purchase full licenses or anything, but the respective tariffs of some services may oblige you to make periodical payments to keep them operational in your product. According to your project complexity, you may have to spend $1000+ on this.


The backend maintenance involves all services related to connecting your new software solution to the worldwide web. To implement and support your business logic, you can use the existing server, rent server powers from a vendor, or use cloud. The latter two options will obviously require additional expenses. Moreover, you may require extra storage for backup copies as well as the separate database server. There’s even more – you will need a hosting on new, additional servers once you have horizontally scaled your mobile software architecture. App hosting can cost around $1000-$15,000 depending on the consumable powers.

Some projects require a content distribution network (CDN). This service is pretty expensive but allows boosting the speed of providing software updates for users independently of their geolocation. Be prepared to pay about $3500 per year for it if you need it.

Functionality based on third-party services or platforms

Usually, most additions to the main functionality of your app will require integration with paid third-party services. The following popular paid additions will have to be compensated on a monthly/annual basis:

  • Push notifications;
  • SMS notifications;
  • Email newsletter opportunities.

Such services cost $500-$2500.

Also, keep in mind integration with APIs. They are extensively used in modern applications, e.g. for providing convenient user authorization (an app integrated with Google Mail API can be accessed automatically due to the initial email authorization, so there is no need to repeatedly enter authorization data). If a vendor company of a certain API releases an update, to keep up with it you’ll need developers, which calls for new unexpected expenses yet again. Add this to your total budget as soon as possible.

Additions and corrections

Pay particular attention to the admin panel when discussing your mobile app functionality with developers – it is a working element, with which you will be personally configuring your product. Particularly, make sure that the panel will feature:

  • content management menu;
  • third-party service-based features-configuration menu;
  • local server customizations view;
  • user profiles catalog;
  • orders data (optional);
  • analytics;
  • ability to select editing rights levels (also optional and only needed if several administrators with different degrees of responsibility will be working on your software).

According to practice, those IT companies interested more in being ‘client-oriented’ than income-oriented try to develop customizable software solutions for users to configure themselves in accordance with step-by-step guides from developers. On the other hand, admin panel capabilities don’t always allow product owners to make the specific changes they need. In this case, the help of developers is the only option.

You can never tell how much the transformation of any existing part of functionality will cost, but programmers’ services are always expensive, so bear that in mind.


Your operating software will have to be perfected – all bugs and vulnerabilities must be detected and eradicated. The final cost of maintaining an app very much depends on the complexity of detected errors and flaws, but be ready to spend a pretty penny on it, as there will still be bugs left after even the most thorough testing stage.


Let’s summarize. We tried to present all the nuances you should take into account when planning a sensible approximate budget for the implementation and launch of a mobile application. And remember, your software project is open-ended – it will have to be financially supported long after the release.

We can help you formulate the most precise expenses list and we offer the most reasonable pricing for the development of your startup. With us, you’ll know for sure how much the creation, deployment, and maintenance of your product will eventually cost. Contact us!

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