Did you know that 56% of users uninstall apps within just 7 days of installation? Reasons are very simple: users prefer apps that are up-to-date and “require less space, load faster and are stable," says MoEngage study. The answer to these issues may be regular maintenance of an app. Have you heard about it before? Probably yes, but surprisingly, a significant percentage of customers totally forget about this phase and do not include an app maintenance cost in the software development plan.
Did you ask a question: how much does it cost to maintain an app?
I guess NO. Let’s start from the beginning: so after several months you’ve done your hard work. Completed. THE END. Your software partner has successfully developed your first mobile app and published on Google Play or App Store. You are planning to start celebrating. But here is the truth… it's not the end. You are switching now to another mode of the software development work which is especially important for the smooth functioning of your application and which is called maintenance. In general, maintenance of your application is just as, if not more, important than the launch.
Maintaining an app is as important as designing properly
When commissioning a web or mobile application, you realize how important it is to choose the right development team to design and implement a ready-to-use software product with all your app features. However, are you aware of the importance of what follows after installing the application on the indicated server? Maintaining a solution is as important as designing it properly.
When the application is created, it enters the testing phase. It often shows that what appeared to be reliable in the project is actually causing the application to slow down or not be able to access certain functionalities. The testing phase is also the time to make corrections. It cannot be omitted if we want the application to receive positive reviews.
Opinions and other communication channels between users and developers are essential. We have to listen to people and create an application for them. That is why user suggestions and tips are so important, as they allow application developers to meet the expectations in terms of product functionality even more.
Why do I have to maintain my application? Is it something necessary or is it your additional offer?
Yep, we hear those questions quite often. Honestly, it is pretty common that product owners or executives don’t actually realize that there is much more to an application than launching, turning it on and letting know users and the market. Actually you need to understand that software development is a constant, constant work. Cause you cannot realise your business app and just leave it without checking bugs, updates, users’ opinions and so on.
In my latest article which I’ve prepared for our blog about costs of custom app development, I’ve used an app cost comparison with building a house and we can stay with it now too, ok? Imagine, that you just bought your dream house and spent several hundred thousand zlotys (Polish currency) or dollars - it doesn’t matter. You have already finished renovation, and furnishing. For which you spent the next few months and another several thousand zlotys. Finally, the longed-for and long-awaited date has come - the day of the move. Everything is just perfect! But at the beginning and later, there are always finishing works, corrections that need to be made. And you need to be prepared for extra costs and expect to invest in maintenance jobs like painting, fixing, minor faults and cleaning in general! Can you see now what I'm trying to explain to you now with this comparison?
App maintenance costs is not something that you can forget about during your software business plan, it’s something necessary, which needs to be done, for sure. You can read more about 6 reasons: why is application maintenance necessary here on our blog.
How much does it cost to develop an app?
Estimating mobile app development cost is a very complex process. It all depends on the functionality of the application and its purpose. Some of the most important parts are choosing:
- the custom app functionalities (new features of your app, app design, user experience, etc.)
- the application purpose (for which users it has to be adapted)
- the application type (native apps, hybrid apps or web app)
- the region you hire an app developer from
How much does it cost to maintain an app?
Submitting and maintaining the application in the store
After the above steps, it's time to add the application (both: android and ios) to the store. It is also associated with costs. Placing the application on Google Play requires the creation of a developer account. The cost is one-time and is: $25. Having an account, we can publish any number of free and paid applications.
If we want to publish the iOS application in the App Store, we have to set up a developer account for which the fee is $99 per year.
Maintenance and support
There are no perfect applications, so we cannot just leave it alone after publication. We must be prepared for any bugs or suggestions from users that will force us to make urgent changes. Not supported applications often die. It happens when the software is not updated regularly. Without support and development, the application will start getting older - out of date and will no longer be attractive to users. It's like a car that hasn't visited car service for years… You can only guess what will happen and how many things will be necessary to repair in your car and of course how much money you will spend on those car faults, if you have not been to a mechanic for a long time. However, it is worth servicing it, instead of buying a new one every two or three years, isn’t it?
The same situation is when it comes to working on developing an app. At some point, the application is no longer suitable for recovering it. The client must decide to prepare a new one. Of course, you can guess what impact this has on costs - the client actually has to pay twice because the app was not supported. In a relationship with our client, at Railwaymen we try to avoid this kind of situation and always propose a monthly maintenance package to choose.
Main factors affecting maintenance price
That is why the software service also includes technological development of the application. Even when we do not add new functionalities, we make sure that the software is adapted to the rapidly changing IT environment. These changes mainly concern operating systems, browsers, as well as changes in legal regulations that should be included in the software.
If the project requires constant programmer’s care and a much faster response to fixing any errors, we recommend choosing our dedicated maintenance offer.
The price for the monthly service of the application is set individually, and the main factors affecting its price are:
- The scope of functionality and the number of users.
- SLA fees - keeping the system ready and reacting in case that the server stops working.
- Google and Apple regulations. They can also contribute to increasing our maintenance costs. Google Play or the App Store, from time to time, change the regulations for placing applications in the store, e.g. application permits to use the camera, etc. and force application developers to make implementation changes. Otherwise, they remove apps from the store.
- Versions of Android or iOS - our application may also have problems with operation after the release of new versions of Android or iOS. Changes in these systems may cause unstable operation of the application on the latest versions of phones. This is due to changes in the system that could not be foreseen at the stage of creating the app.
- Integrations with external tools/services - adjustments to the latest updates and versions.
Keep in mind that the most accurate answer to how much your app will cost to maintain depends a lot on how it was built. The industry norm for software maintenance is about 15 to 20% of the original development costs. So if your app costs $100,000 to build, roundly estimate to pay about $20,000 per year to maintain the app.
Sounds expensive? Probably it does. For most companies it can also be very surprising. In fact, an off-quoted Standish Group report found that 45 percent of typical application features (both web and mobile) are never used and another 19 percent are rarely used.
There are some features that may be necessary because of the nature of your app, for example:
- powerful servers - $20-$60/month
- push notifications starting from $10/month - depending on number of push subscribers (for example Onesignal tool)
- SMS notifications - depending on size of your database
- Integrations with other services like Google maps API
- Advanced analytics for your app (like Mixpanel - starting from $17/month)
- payment gateways - up to $149/month plus a certain percentage of each transaction
- emergency maintenance - depends on the type of emergency
Second approach is more individual for our clients. Your project will have a dedicated part-time developer to check minor corrections (bugs fixes) and improvements that may come to our mind after the app is released or will be necessary to implement after collecting feedback from users.
In the Railwaymen , you can find a lot of cases of maintaining applications. Some of them have been maintained for several months and some even for several years. One good example is Frindow - UK startup social networking platform that is dedicated to alleviating loneliness and isolation by encouraging new friendships based on common interests and circumstances.
Project category: web development
Total cost: $50k - $199k
Project length: 1 year and 6 months and still ongoing & maintenance (8% of time spent after release, it was app maintaining)
Railwaymen developed a website for a social networking platform. Working from scratch and with prearranged designs, they built the platform while fulfilling specification and functionality objectives.
It requires constant development in response to user needs. The website has received many positive feedback users and has a lot of active daily users. We are still developing Frindow and extending features.
Which application takes the highest maintenance cost?
But what about some examples? Some studies estimate these ongoing costs:
- In the first two years of a typical mobile app, development only represents 35% of the total cost (source)
- The ongoing maintenance cost for medium-sized enterprise app ranges from $5,000 to $11,000 per month (source)
- Annual legacy costs can be up to 50% of the original app development costs. This means that if you spent $300,000 on your traditional app development, support and maintenance will cost your up to $150,000 per year!
Application support costs usually are higher at the very beginning of the application's life due to many bug fixes and improvements. “Additionally, Clutch found that app maintenance costs can be significantly higher during the first year (up to 50% of the total development cost), and decrease to 15-25% for each year after that.
To put things into perspective, here is breakdown of typical app development costs according to Savvy Apps:
- Large app development companies: $500,000 - $1,000,000 (for example Facebook or Twitter)
- Mid-level app development agencies: $150,000 - $450,000
- Small app development shops: $50,000 - $100,000
Another survey by Kinvey found the average cost of developing a feature-rich mobile app can be $270,000.”*
What should be really important for you is that an app that’s maintained and updated regularly can bring plenty of financial benefits, like increased ROI, decreased costs and have a lot of active users. I think that’s the most important thing for your business so make sure to include the cost of maintaining in advance.
After implementing new software, it is worth using our post-implementation care and monitoring services to make sure that the application will continue to function flawlessly. Thanks to our extensive and over 11 years of knowledge in the field of maintenance, software development and monitoring, we can provide comprehensive support for your infrastructure, contact us to get more details how we can help you boost your application.
Want to know more about details about application maintenance and support? Fill the form below and download our free presentation for the maintenance offer.