How much does it cost to develop a mobile app in Singapore?

Mobile app development cost Singapore
Mobile app development cost Singapore
Image: Unsplash

As time goes on technology continues to become more important in our everyday lives. From sending messages to friends over Whatsapp, emailing colleagues with Gmail, and watching videos on Tiktok, you can pretty much do anything over your phone or computer. With the rise in popularity of apps there has been a huge increase in demand for mobile app development in Singapore.

Entrepreneurs want to develop unique products to improve our lives and enterprises want to build apps for their customers and internal processes. This is where price comes in. Both enterprises and startups want to develop a cost effective solution. A top quality app at an affordable price. In this article we will explain exactly how you can do that.

We will look at all the factors that contribute to the total cost, the different approaches you can take in terms of technology used, the app developer you hire, and the different kinds of apps you can build and what it will cost you to develop in Singapore. It’s important that you know this before talking to a development company so you can be sure the price they quote you will be fair and the quality you receive is what you expected.

The main factors are:

  1. The development company (size, reputation, and quality)
  2. The development company’s location (US, UK, Singapore, India, Australia, etc)
  3. The technologies used to develop the app (Swift, Kotlin, Javascript, React, etc)
  4. The platforms needed to develop for (web, Android, iOS, etc)
  5. The timeframe in which you need the project to be completed in
  6. The features and complexity of those features in the app

The development company

Software development companies like Potado are the builders of the digital world. Instead of skyscrapers and houses, they build apps and websites. Just like some builders construct better properties than others, some software developers build better apps than others. A development company can differ based on these factors:

Size – how many employees do they have

The more the merrier you might think, but the honest truth is that this factor doesn’t matter much. Having a big team obviously means the company is more successful in terms of revenue, but that doesn’t mean they build the best software. It just means they have a larger marketing department. That’s not to say that a smaller app development company is better either, it’s just to highlight that it doesn’t matter. The reasons why some developers might have a smaller team is because they don’t want to manage a large team, or they aren’t very business savvy. They just want to build apps from dusk till dawn without managing many people. If you think about it, these developers can build any app. Why don’t they just build their own and launch it, become billionaires and retire? Because they are developers not business people. They love learning about new technologies and don’t want to spend a second of their time on Instagram or TikTok. So when hiring a team to work with don’t worry about the size. A bigger company will charge much more than a smaller team, so keep that in mind.

Reputation and quality – which apps have they built or which clients have they worked with and was the client impressed

This is one factor which contributes to the price of developing an app which is also fair. If a company has proven themselves again and again, you can expect it to cost more and that’s because many people want to work with them. They can pick and choose their clients so they are able to push up the price to make sure they only attract the best clients. It’s also a bit of a snowball effect because as a company’s reputation improves over time because of experience they also know the importance of hiring the best people and the best people don’t come cheap. An app development team usually consists of multiple software developers, UI/UX designers, product managers and software testers or quality assurance specialists. More advanced projects also require experts in AI, machine learning, data science or other technologies such as blockchain.

A nice way to get an initial preview of a developer quality is to look at their website. A lot of app development companies have very bad websites. If they can’t even build a nice site for themselves, how would you trust them to build one for you! Then take a look at their portfolio. How do the app designs look? If you see they use old and outdated designs, you should avoid them. A quick way to spot a low quality developer is to see the designs they use. The developers that have well designed apps on their portfolio are going to be asking for a higher price but you can expect a well designed, well engineered app that can handle all the needs of your users and rank on top of the app store.

The app development company’s location

Thanks to the work of app developers themselves at Google and others, we now have access to a network of people from all around the world. So do you need to hire an app developer in Singapore, when you have access to developers in the United States, Australia or India. The short answer is, yes, local is always better! A lot of people have tried working with offshore development houses in India because of the lower costs. The reason prices differ depending on the country is because of the cost of development. If you compare developer salaries in India to the United States, there will be a huge difference. The US is a lot more expensive to live in so salaries tend to be much higher. The same goes for Singapore. While the cost to develop an app in Singapore is less than the United States, it’s not cheap either and that’s because Singapore is an expensive place to be. The quality of the app also tends to be higher 99% of the time when developed in a place like Singapore or the United States. More so than quality is the importance of communication. To build a successful app a developer should also have a bit of a sense for the local market and what the others are doing.

The technologies used to develop the app

Different technologies often require developers with certain specialized expertise and this can contribute to the cost of developing an app. Software developers often specialize in a language like Javascript, Python, Swift or Kotlin. On top of that they need to use certain frameworks that need to be learnt as well. For example an app like Grab on Android was built using a language called Dart on a framework called Flutter. Other mobile apps are built using Javascript and a framework called React Native. Some apps for iPhone are built natively using Swift and the Xcode platform. Not a lot of developers specialize in Swift so these developers can charge higher prices. For an app development company they will need to increase the cost of an app if it is built in Swift for example because they need to put their Swift developers on that project.

More than that software projects often rely on third party tools we call API’s. These tools allow us to do certain tasks within the app without having to rebuild it. Some external company manages this and developers can just plug it into their apps. Using these can both increase or decrease the cost depending on how advanced the integration is. They can also decrease the cost by saving time. A good company will always suggest these to their clients where they feel it could be beneficial and the client will make the final decision on whether they want to use it or not based on research and also the pricing of the tool.

The platforms needed to develop for

Nowadays people want to access a service anywhere it’s convenient for them to use it. Desktop computers, mobile devices, and even in their cars. On mobile we have Android and iOS as well as web and on Desktop we have Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Safari as well as web. One app won’t work on all platforms and some platforms are simpler to develop software for. For example, let’s take a look at Spotify or Whatsapp. You can download them on the Google Play Store or Huawei App Gallery on Android or the App Store on iOS. You can also access them from your web browser on your mobile or desktop and you can even use them in your car or on your smart watch. So if you just wanted to develop for mobile you would need to develop 3 apps. Android, iOS and web. That means taking the quote for your project and times it three. That is if you develop it natively.

Native development means to develop an app specific to the platform. These are best used for apps like the Camera and Calculator. For most other apps we can rely on Cross-Platform development tools such as React Native and Flutter. They allow developers to create one app that works on both Android and iOS and that lowers both the development time and cost. It’s a no brainer! The company you work with should be able to offer you the best platform advice depending on your project.

The timeframe in which you need the project to be completed in

This one is simple. The cost of developing an app depends on the number of hours required to build it. If you have an urgent deadline a company would be able to make that deadline by assigning more developers. So if you need the project to be completed in a shorter timeframe than planned, it will cost much more.

A quick note about changes during development. Once a project is underway it’s not uncommon to want to change things or deviate from the plan. Sometimes a small thing to a non technical person could mean a big thing to a developer as they need to restructure to allow for that. So do understand that planning is essential and any changes could lead to price increases. A good company will spend a lot of time on planning and specifications before starting.

The features and complexity of those features in the app

The most obvious factor contributing to the price would be the features your app has. Simple features such as viewing information about something would cost much less than having to implement mapping and tracking like Grab. The more custom a feature is, the more work it would take. The same goes for design. An app that takes on the design of the OS is a lot quicker to create, than a custom design. It’s always best to look at what the top apps are doing so you can provide your users with an experience that they are used to and comfortable with.

So now that you know about the main factors that influence the cost, let’s take a look at the types of apps as well as the cost to develop it in Singapore.

App Development Cost In Singapore

The average cost to develop a simple app with standard functionality in Singapore is around $50,000 in a 3 month timeframe. The cost might be lower or it could also extend to $150,000 with a 4 or 5 month timeline depending on the complexity. Large projects for multiple platforms and complex features can take close to a year to develop and can cost $300,000+. So let’s dive into some examples of apps and what an estimated cost would be. Please note that these are just rough estimates and the price varies depending on your specific software needs.

1. Informative Mobile Apps

These are probably the simplest kinds of apps you can build. They don’t typically connect to servers and usually display information about something.

Some examples would be a guide, restaurant menu, or conference app. A conference app for example would have information about the lineup, venue, speakers etc all viewable in the app. An app like this would cost $10,000 – $40,000 on average.

2.  Productivity Apps

These kinds of apps typically have very few views. They just help users complete specific tasks like storing documents and images online (Think Google Drive or Photos), managing projects (like Trello), or planning your daily tasks (Google  Keep, or any other TODO list app).

The focus is on the backend here as the server needs to be able to sync data between devices. You want to be able to see the same thing on your desktop as you would on your phone. These apps also don’t allow you to interact with other users. It’s all about improving your own productivity and they could cost around $15,000 – $50,000.

3. Utility Marketplace Apps

Utility marketplace apps are apps that allow us to complete certain tasks by booking a service. For example in Singapore we can book a taxi with Grab, we can order Food on Grab Food and Deliveroo, and you can do pretty much anything you can think of through apps like these. These apps are a little more complex to build as they require authentication, mapping, payments, and connecting of the user to the provider. These apps also provide some of the best opportunities for startup founders. In Singapore an app like this will set you back around $20,000 – $90,000 depending on how complex your initial build will be.

4. Lifestyle Apps

These apps are there to help users improve their lives. Diet apps help people eat food to live a healthier lifestyle. Workout apps help people keep fit by showing them routines, exercises and tips. Dating apps like Tinder and Badoo help people find love or create new friendships by matching them up. These apps vary by which features they include so can cost anywhere from $20,000 – $70,000 to develop in Singapore. The price would be a lot higher for example if you wanted to include complex AI algorithms to match people up based on specific criteria.

5. Gaming Apps

Gaming is one of the industries that has seen the most growth in recent years. Gaming now takes home about 30% of the mobile market share and are one of the top grossing apps. Gaming used to be a very niche thing, now you see people of all ages and genders giving it a go! The growth isn’t going anywhere and building a game app is a great investment.

These apps are not easy to build though. A simple 2D game will cost you around $80,000 to $150,000 to develop in Singapore. While a 3D game will require the use of 3D graphics, physics and gaming engines such as Unreal and Unity. It’s a large time commitment and will cost around $150,000 – $500,000 to develop.

6. Travel Apps

Since the Covid-19 pandemic travel has been a bit of an unpleasant topic, but travel apps such as Agoda and Airbnb allow you to book a place to stay in any city in the world. Other apps like Skyscanner allow you to search through flights to specific airlines to find a flight that best suits you based on departure time, price or airline. These apps are similar to marketplace apps and cost around $20,000 – $90,000 to develop in the Lion City.

7. Social Media Apps

Social media apps can be both simple and complex but what makes them a bigger project than productivity apps is that they are multi-user apps. They require you to be able to interact with other people on the platform. Think of TikTok or Instagram. You can upload photos and videos, but you can also interact with pictures and videos other people upload as well as message those people. Another example would be messaging apps like Whatsapp or Telegram. Anyone can create an account and then you can send messages to anyone who uses the app. Because of the nature of creating accounts and allowing them to interact with others these apps can be quite complex and can cost $40,000 to $100,000 to develop in Singapore.

8. E-Commerce Apps

E-commerce has been all the hype as the fastest growing niche to be in South East Asia. Companies like Shopee and Lazada are some of the biggest players. Shopee and Lazada are not typical e-commerce apps though. They are e-commerce marketplace apps because they allow third parties to sell via the platforms so it is a lot bigger of a project. A typical e-commerce app would be for a store to develop its own platform to sell its products. This is great for growing the brand and also customer loyalty. Once these companies no longer need to rely on a platform for growth it is best to build their own. These apps typically feature product filters, shopping carts and payment and cost around $15,000 – $60,000 to develop.

9. Enterprise Apps These apps are usually used by large companies to manage processes or staff. Think about logistics tracking for example. An app could be built to track the package as it moves to its final destination. An app like that would cost around $20,000 to $50,000 to develop but an app that is used to manage accounts, securely store documents and manage multiple internal processes can easily cost 150,000 if it is going to take several months to build.

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