Is it Really Cost Effective to Build a Mobile App?

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There has been some debate on whether an app is more cost-effective than simply optimising a mobile website for mobile use. Unfortunately the disparity of app development pricing used in industry-wide estimates has turned most of the “research” into something vaguely resembling alphabet soup: the letters and numbers are there, but they aren’t a coherent whole.

Let’s take some numbers we do know. Online sales will reach $16 billion this year, and 57%of those who shop online use their smartphones more often to make purchases than last year. In Australia, 62% of those between ages 15-65 own a smartphone. The implications are clear: more and more people are using smartphones to shop.

Within the industry, 65.7%of mobile users have an iOS device: an iPhone, iPad, or iPod. Android comes in second at 20.2%. What conclusion can we draw from this? Apple and iOS are dominating the mobile industry, and their margin is getting greater every year. A mobile app is going to be essential for most businesses within the next few years. An app, if done right, is the most efficient way to help a brick and mortar business do business with their customers. It’s also an efficient way to spread the word for any business.

The costs of making apps are a bit higher, but they aren’t higher than the costs of having a professional website built.

If you just want to be in the apps business, there are plenty of ways to make more than enough money to justify having an app made. If you want to charge for your app, that can be done through iTunes. You can also make money with in-app purchases, monthly subscriptions, and advertising. Advertising is a solid strategy for making money off of free apps, especially popular ones.

So, back to the original question, what is better: an app or a website optimised for mobile use? We think the app is more cost-effective, because there is so much potential. A current Google search for the word “restaurants” pulls up 1.6 billion results. In other words, there are a lot of websites out there. There aren’t nearly as many apps, but there are a lot of people using smartphones and tablets.

We think apps are extremely cost-efficient. Most of all, we believe that apps are the future.

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