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How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a Mobile App? Ways to Save Your Money

Alekh Verma | February 9, 2023
cost of mobile app

It is not development, but the maintenance of app that guarantees its success.

Often our clients ask a question ‘how much does it cost to maintain a mobile app? We are mostly habitual of answering questions related to mobile app development cost and its associated services.

They include some critical questions in the project planning that really matters for the future of their mobile applications, such as:

  • Do we really need to care about app maintenance?
  • What to include or exclude in app maintenance?
  • How much does it cost to maintain an app?
  • Which app has a higher app maintenance cost, iOS or Android?
  • Can app stores remove the app if we don't update it?
  • What affects and increases app maintenance cost?
  • How to reduce the cost of app maintenance?

We at eSearch Logix know that mobile app maintenance is as crucial as its development. If you take mobile app maintenance cost lightly, chances are there it can highly impact your app, sometimes to the failure of app.

And this blog will tell you everything about app maintenance cost.

Why Mobile App Maintenance is Important?

Read this interesting app story in brief.

Everpix was one of the fastest growing apps. In 2012, this app gained over 55,000 active users and soon became one of the famous apps for managing a large library of photos. 

But here they made a mistake that caused the failure of their app. 

Their team focused only on the UI, external look, and internal features of the app and as a result, user growth failed to keep its pace.

Cause of failure? 

They didn't focus on app maintenance cost and faced the unexpected burden of budget.

Therefore investment in app maintenance is as essential as app development. Here are important factors that.

  • It is found that 51% of app uninstallation happen due to the lack of app maintenance
  • Users like updated features
  • Customers are now tech-savvy
  • Users hate bugs in mobile apps
  • Mobile application needs to keep up the pace with operating system updates
  • Updated U/UX keeps user retention growing
  • It helps your app to be on the top of competition on the app store
  • It enhances brand credibility
  • It stops your app from getting removed from the app store
  • It generates high ROI in the long run
  • It builds relationships with users that further improve user retention and customer loyalty
  • It increases the in-app experience
  • It secures your mobile app from cyber threats
  • It curtails downtime and revenue loss 

Thus, maintenance is like fuel to the app. The more you give, the higher you go. Don't let users uninstall your mobile app due to technical or non-technical issues that can be solved easily.

Your application will be successful when it is well-planned, well-developed, and well-maintained.

What is Meant by App Maintenance?

App maintenance is the ongoing practice of updating, monitoring, modifying, and re-assessing applications to improve performance or correct flaws.

Mobile app development industry has changed tremendously in the past few years. Today, mobile application is similar to architecture; developers now have to make applications of different components and designs. 

Do you need to pay attention to maintaining your app?

Mobile App

Developing top-notch and bug-free apps in a short span of time is extremely difficult. That is why we find developers often use so-called feature-driven development (or another Agile methodology in software development) to build the core functionality rapidly.

Agile indeed improve development speed and helps businesses to adopt the market dynamics.

But, here is the challenging point

After launch, if the app gets successful, what is the first thing you do?

Collect feedback, discover bugs information, and analyses issues, right?

Later create and deliver new features based on the received information during the previous step.

So, what does it mean?

It's simple; the app maintenance services are everything which comes after the official launch. No matter you develop a lite or full version of the app with core functionality; your app will still need maintenance cost for additional features and its care.

Sad, but true.

Types of Mobile App Maintenance

 

1. Emergency Maintenance:

There could be an emergency in the form of sudden technical issues like app downtime, server-load, and data breach. In such cases, you need to fix the issues, problems, or errors that hamper the system immediately; otherwise, your app may face big damage.

Whenever a company finds itself in an unpredictable situation related to their app, they utilize emergency maintenance to reinstate the app.

2. Perfective Maintenance:

Users expect company to keep their app updated with modern features and functionalities. Perfective maintenance comes at this point which includes functional modifications in the source code, so as to offer a perfect user experience, just like they expected.

It is done generally after taking feedback and reviews of the customers, then accordingly changes are made into the app.

3. Adaptive Maintenance:

You need to keep track of what changes in the app should be made that meets the current users' demands. For this, adaptive maintenance helps you to make modifications in the app that suits with operating system or hardware environment.

4. Preventive Maintenance:

Preventive maintenance essentially involves the intervention or elimination of the occurrence of errors. The objective is to reducing the complexity and improving maintainability through code optimization, code restructuring, and documentation updating. 

5. Corrective Maintenance:

Mobile app is a software product that may encounter some faults, or defects in the functions. Usually, companies don't care of small issues in their app, and this is where they do mistakes. 

Users have become more tech-savvy. They understand what features should be improved or added to make it fully utilized. Thanks to Corrective Maintenance which take care of errors related to design, UI/UX, coding, and application logic.

What factors you should include in maintaining the app.

Here is the breakdown of important factors that affect the cost of app maintenance.

1. Fixing bugs:

Users will install your application if they find it working improperly or taking unnecessary time to execute actions. This is caused by bugs. Therefore, you need to fix the bugs and issues frequently.

2. Software libraries:

Update software libraries that contain codes, routines, and configurations for flawless app experience.

3. Infrastructure Maintenance:

Your app database is critical and requires to be regularly maintained. If you use cloud-based hosting such as Microsoft Azure and AWS, you will be charged accordingly to your usage.

4. User Interface (UI):

The user interface is the backbone of your app. It ensures your app looks simple yet modern that fits with different designs. With the rise of mobile devices in the market with different screen sizes, it is essential for you as an app owner to keep up with the trending mobile devices.

If you don't focus on these elements, some features of the device may lead to app failure due to incompatibility issues. So, you need to keep update the interface that supports all devices irrespective of the screen sizes seamlessly.

5. User Experience (UX):

There is difference between UI and UX, yet both go hand-in-hand. It determines how users feel and experience while using your app and its features. You should be responsive to users' feedback such as what features they like the most and what causes inconvenience to them. Work on addressing separately and soon you will gain user growth while improving UX.

6. Managing Push Notifications:

It is one of the best ways to keep customers updated about your business products and services. Depending on the nature of your business, you can offer discounts and incentives on festive season, seasonal sales, etc. through push notifications. But for managing all these indications, you will need to bear its cost.

7. Updating Content:

Every app contains images, videos, audios, banners, and so on that need to be updated on time-to-time. The more fresh content you offer to users, the higher engagement and user retention rate you will gain.

8. Update Features:

According to a market report, 40% of features are generally not used by any. Therefore, it is best to remove all those features so that your app will have less complexity and burden of extra size. Instead of this, you can add new attractive features by eliminating unnecessary features.

9. Third-party integration updates:

Third-party integration including payment gateways, social media, accounting, and systems. You need to timely update all these functions as it directly affects users.

10. Updating technical aspects:

You should keep your app robust by using the latest programming languages, development frameworks, technology, etc.

11. API Maintenance:

Security functions and modifications depend on APIs. It impacts seriously the performance of app. You should maintain it as the situation demands.

12. Dedicated Tech Support:

You may be busy in your business operations or planning. So, it is better to hire a dedicated person or agency to maintain your app. Because they use the latest practices, development technology, trends, etc. which gives a positive brand image to your app.

13. Manage App Security:

Data security and privacy is the sensitive issue in today's digital world. No matter how advanced your app is, users never comprise with the security and privacy issues that have potential to hamper their personal information.

Hence, you need to manage all the security features, privacy updates including integrations and GDPR policy.

14. App Store Optimization:

ASO is the marketplace where users download your app. You need to keep your eyes on all reviews and feedbacks. It is better to hire a digital marketer who can optimize your app with an effective marketing strategy.

How Much Does it Cost to Maintain an App?

The cost of maintaining your app depends on various factors. Different businesses and their applications require different approaches.

If you search on the Internet about how much does it cost to maintain a mobile app, almost every website would start telling you around 15-25% of the total app development cost.

But this figure is just estimation because it totally depends on multiple factors. To calculate the exact figure, you need to focus on manly three wide-spread components which include:

  1. Operating System (iOS/Android)
  2. Technology Stack
  3. Overall Code Quality 

Let’s find out the formula that will help us to calculate the exact figure of app maintenance cost.

Native mobile applications can double your maintenance cost

Suppose that you have a startup company with a mobile app development project that helps women monitor their health & fitness.

And you wish to build native mobile app; one for iPhones, and another for Android devices. It means you have two separate applications on two platforms-Android (Java), iOS (Swift).

So, if similar issues occur both on iPhones and Android devices, your developers will obviously do the same work twice because in native app, there are two different code bases.

In this way, your mobile app is on two platforms which are most likely to multiply your potential app maintenance cost twice.

This is Operating System factor

Now let's move to the second factor-Technology stack

What technology stack you choose affects directly on the maintenance cost?

There are many different frameworks and development technologies including open-source and paid subscriptions.

However, a vast range of frameworks and technologies has created a mess and complexity in the industry. Some of them are easy to use, and some of them are very specific.

There is no master tool that we can use for everything. Yes, JavaScript is coming closer, but not today and not in the near future because it struggles with some special requirements.

Now, imagine that your developers used the unpopular or less-rated programming, language. Unfortunately, this step may multiply its support cost.

You can see here how app the selection of frameworks affects the cost. So, the coding quality will impact in the same way, isn't it?

Of course, yes.

Code quality matters deeply

You conduct deep research on finding out a reliable mobile app development company, which is not an easy task for sure. Hundreds of companies offer the same services. Therefore, you either hire a developer or outsource the project to an agency.

This is another deciding stage that will impact your budget of maintenance.

If you are thinking to outsource the project to a mobile app development agency, you have to get the inside details of that company.

Why?

There are many companies which claim to provide you 'senior app developer or architect' but in reality, they may assign your project to do the majority of work.

Even if the newbie (junior developer) thinks he knows how to code perfectly- he is probably mistaken. So, such companies can't assure decent code quality.

In the case of any technical issue that requires coding restructuring, it can potentially impact the managing cost.

Here we have discussed the main three factors that determine the support cost of app.

Now understand how

Now let's categorize the app maintenance to understand how the end results are calculated. 

Block Hours

Block hours allow the clients to book working hours in advance. This method is commonly used to provide reduced hourly rates. The primary benefit of this maintenance service is that a client has already purchased a fixed number of hours to utilize either monthly or yearly basis.

Dedicated Team

It is same as block hours with a single difference. Instead of a single developer, you block the team.

Many companies prefer this approach because all their activities are already planned. It helps them to reduce the cost in the long run by blocking a team for the whole year.

On-Demand Support

The purpose of on-demand support is simple; you only pay when you need the support.

When you are looking for on-demand help, you want the developer to get to work as quickly as possible.

There is a high possibility that at the moment when you need support, no free developers are available.

As a result, you will have three possible ways to solve your problem:

-To find a new developer (expensive)

-To pull the working developer on the project (disrupt the deadline)

-Hire a freelancer (risky decision)

That is why, app owners try to avoid this category of support and more to the next option, which is

Service Agreement

The service agreement is the document drafted between the service provider (mobile app Development Company) and customer, where all critical aspects are well documented.

The key aspects which are included:

-Payments and rates

-Technical support availability

-Software updates

-Exclusions

-Relationships between the vendor and the customer

-Customer support service

This document helps both app Development Company (they can plan their resources in advance) and customer (he has a trustworthy maintainer).

By signing the service agreement, the customer now understands what is included and excluded from maintenance and how much may it cost. Thus, it makes the maintenance service clean and transparent.

Time to finalize the formula

You have an app with the core functionality. You want to add new features and updates. You also have a great marketing plan on how to grow your app.

And now you know the best way to make it happen is to better sign the service agreement and to get the easy and transparent calculation of the cost you will pay for every feature or service implementation.

For example, Smart calendar feature implementation costs

1 feature: 28 tasks (assumed), the final cost would be

121 hours x 20$ per hour = 2420$

So, the total cost to maintain an app for this particular feature should be around 2500$ per month

The formula is simple

Number of hours (for a particular service/feature) x Rate per hour= Cost per month or year.

If we put all app maintenance services and features in table, it will look like this:

Mobile APP

By analyzing the above table, you can conclude that it is not difficult to know how much does it cost to maintain your mobile app. If we calculate an average maintenance cost, this reaches annually 20-50% of total app development cost.

Keep in mind that exact figure will be known when you have exact details of the app.

Your mobile app maintenance cost will vary depending on the project's size, number of features, technologies used, update frequency, and third-party services you availed such as maps and payment gateways.

Conclusion

Mobile app maintenance starts when development ends. You can be proud of having a great application that is ready to create a sensation on the Internet. But this doesn’t allow you to relax and sit back watching everything happen automatically and smoothly.

If you have a long-term business goal, you have to invest in the same. You should be aware of the terms & policy of the service agreement or contract that you made with the agency or developer company.

Have a pre-planned strategy and secure resources in advance for better future of your mobile application. However, if you still find some difficulty in the calculation, we are here for you. Just request a free consultation.

Alekh Verma

CEO and Founder at eSearch Logix Technologies!

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