How much should app maintenance cost - Lower the cost in 2017

1 September 2017 |

How much should app maintenance cost - Lower the cost in 2017

"Is it worth to pay for app maintenance?" and "How much should I pay for maintaining my app?". These are the hot questions these days, and I know you want to hear the answer. Don’t worry, you will find it in this article. Along the way, you will figure out the real cost of maintaining an app and the reason why you should invest in it, the bonus information is how to pay less for maintaining.

The reason to maintain your app

All the hard development work is done and you finally publish your app to App Store and/or Google Play. Now, your app can be downloaded by the users and bring you profit in the result. So is this the happy end of your app development story? Nope. It’s just an end of the chapter. Now the real fight for user’s attention begins! And how can we find out what to and what steps you should avoid? Easy, look at the losers and don’t repeat their mistakes. Therefore, we are interested in reasons why apps fail. There was a research done by Standish Group, they have asked IT executives one question - “why do the apps fail?”, here are the answers they received:

why do the apps fail? statistics

Quite a lot of reasons. Right? Don’t worry, there is a process that can solve most of these problems - app maintenance. But, everything starts at the beginning, that means that you have to develop your app in a way to ensure easy maintenance.

The cost to maintain an app

Let’s get down to business, how much does it cost to maintain an app? Short answer - 15% - 20% per year of the development cost. Long answer below.

Quite a lot to pay for maintenance, right? But it’s worth it. The research shows that 45 percent of the application features are never used and 19 are rarely used.

This means that the developer has wasted a lot of time and money on this features but users are not interested in them. This is what you get with “build it and leave it” approach. In order to avoid this, smart app creators are trying to avoid making unpopular features altogether.

However, there are some features you can’t avoid making. They may be necessary because of the nature of your app, for example:

  • powerful servers - $20-$60/month
  • push notifications - $10/month
  • payment gateways - up to $149/month plus a certain percentage of each transaction
  • emergency maintenance - depends on the type of emergency
  • and more

What is the maintenance cost of apps made in app builders?

App builders such as Appery or Theappbuilder are a great way to create your app without significant risks. It is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to build an app. However, just like any other, apps that were created with the help of any app builder have maintenance costs.

So, how much does it cost to maintain an app that was built in one of these services? Well, it depends on the pricing of that service.

To begin with, don’t forget that you still have to pay their monthly or annual fee according to your price plan even after the app was published. Also, some of the services have additional fees for:

  • API calls
  • Additional storage
  • App downloads
  • Push notifications

When it comes to eCommerce or mCommerce apps, the appbuilder should somehow connect them with your already existing eCommerce website running on Shopify, Magento, or BigCommerce. In other words, the appbuilder for eCommerce apps should integrate with a shopping cart you use, which makes app maintenance no cheaper. To do that, app builders usually use subscription-based integration services like API2Cart, which provides a unified shopping cart API. The cost of this service depends on a number of API calls you make, starting from $250 for 250.000 calls, and up to $2500 for 30.000.000 calls.

So, be sure to consult with the app builder agent about all maintenance costs, to ensure that there would be no unpleasant surprises down the road. Also, don’t forget that apps made with the help of app builders are pretty much the same as any other classical app. Thus, every one of the previously mentioned maintenance costs applies too.

How to cut the cost of maintaining an app?

Make sure your app can be easily scaled

You have to shoot for the stars, they say. When you are creating your app you should plan it for success. That’s why you have to make sure your app is scalable. What does it mean? This means that your app will run smoothly for one user and just as good for a million users. You shouldn't cheap out on this, despite how tempting it is to cut the costs in this aspect, it will save a lot more when you will succeed with your app. Don’t make your marketing efforts worthless, prepare for success!

Stick with your development team

Someone may approach you with a proposition to maintain an app cheaper than the team that has developed it. Sounds like a good idea, pay a decent amount to a respectful team to develop your app and then direct the maintenance to a cheaper team. However, it’s not. First of all, you will lose a lot of time, hence money, when the new team will figures out the source code. Second, even if they handle the maintenance well, when you will ask them to add some new features it’s unlikely that they will do it with on the same level as the original developers did. This, potentially, can scare off your users. You don’t want that, don’t you?

Choose the right platform

This one you have to figure out at the start of development. There are two types of apps: native and web apps. Native apps have better access to the resources of the smartphone, thus, can be faster and lighter. They may even access some features web apps can’t. The downside is that you will have to maintain at least two apps, for Android and iOS. Thus, expanding your maintenance budget.

On the other hand, if you build a web app then you have to maintain one app. But you will probably lose some access to hardware. Though HTML5 web standard has expanded what web apps can do, it still doesn't have the same access as natives apps. In other words, native apps can do more and cost more. This choice is a personal preference for every single app, so I cannot advise you to chose one over another.

Keep your ear to the ground

As I have stated before, 45% of the features are never used. And it is a good idea to build a simple app or an MVP and then add features along the way. But how would you know what features to add? That’s easy - feedback. Read the comments, analyze them. Let users shape the app, it’s called the end-user development. This way you will not only build a popular app, also you will never waste time on unpopular features, thus, lowering the cost of app development and maintenance.

Conclusion

You already know the approximate costs of the maintenance, 15% - 20%.  Also, you know what to do in order not to overpay for maintenance:

  • Prepare your app for success
  • It’s better to delegate maintenance to the original developers of the app
  • Select a platform that answers your demands
  • Listen to the feedback

Application maintenance is the process that keeps your app alive and improving it. A mobile application is like an amusement park, you have to present some new attractions from time to time. If you don’t, eventually people will get bored and won’t come anymore. Now you know better, so don’t overlook it.

Author: Alex Volski

Copywriter/technical writer/business analyst at ThinkMobiles with over 5 years of experience in mobile and web projects. I believe that good ideas need a lot of work to be successful. Currently interested in AR, VR, augmented and mixed reality development.