App Maintenance Costs: Keep Your App Up and Running

Understand mobile app maintenance and the costs associated, along with reasons to consider maintaining apps

New app owners tend to focus their research on the initial app development cost of turning their idea into an app. Yes, it is valuable to know this upfront. However, and perhaps more defining, despite being significantly less in volume, is the mobile app maintenance cost.

A quick scenario will illustrate the predicament in the cost of app development.

Let's say you have an app up and running and users are loving its functionality! What then? Well, that growth (scaling) alone will need to be managed. If not, you may find your app crashing to the pressure of success and it will need optimizations.

A fate capable of hurting your investments and user experience. If not handled well, being unprepared and not knowing how to test for scalability can even kill a brilliant mobile app development idea.

In this post, we're going to discuss some of the most common app maintenance costs. We hope to equip you with the knowledge to manage app costs (as and) when they manifest on your projects.

Now that you know what we're looking to achieve, let's jump into the what, why, and how of app maintenance.

What Goes into App Maintenance?

A sleazy response to this question would be "Money!"

However, there is more to just knowing that it will take money to solve the majority of the maintenance issues around your apps. With the same energy, you cannot get away with throwing some cash at a team of devs hoping they keep your app in peak performance.

Itemizing and allocating budget to your app post-deployment is a smart way of optimizing for revenue.

Be ready for the following app maintenance costs.

  • Hosting: Depending on the service you opt into, the hosting cost can be easy to overwrite after all revenue streams trickle in. On the other hand, if your app has a lot of activity and users trying to access resources simultaneously, the costs will swell. Wisdom starts with gauging the final cost based on the app service plan costs rather than ballparking it. No two apps will have the same cost since they most likely consume different quantities of storage and processing power.
  • Bug fixes and glitches: Just because the app is working today doesn't necessarily guarantee that it will work next week. Each time an upgrade happens on the server or any other services that the app connects with, something on your side is liable to break. As such, you will need to have a team of developers ready and waiting to make changes to keep the app running smoothly. Depending on the experience of the developer, how many you hire, and the rate you agree on, this could set you back anywhere between a few hundred to a thousand dollars.
  • Continuous app development improvement costs: Apps that don't bring new features or respond to user feedback with fresh ideas tend to die into a bellowing abyss. In fact, just recently, Google removed some apps from their Playstore owing to features that did not comply with their policies. A continuous integration and integration pipeline platform costs anywhere between $30 to +$3500 per month as you customize your pipelines.
  • App service environment and API costs: As soon as an app goes online, it's performance metrics start to depend on more variables than the local server environment on which it was conceived. User traffic, the integrity of the network distributing it, new features and functionality, along with the devices on which it's accessed all factor in.

Knowing why an app is not performing at peak performance requires that you connect to 3rd party applications like Solarwinds' AppOptics. Again this is not free. The service costing is set in tiers It can set you back anywhere between $9.99 to $1000.00 every month. The development costs depend on the app service plan costs you pick out.

So far we've discussed a few core costs every app will have to experience while it is active. Sometimes you get situation-specific additional costs like marketing overhead and development team costs. While you choose how much to spend on marketing campaigns, it does pay off in the long run.

Why Have Mobile App Maintenance Costs?

In the same way every app development cost has some justification, we can come to a few reasons why you should spend money even after the app launches.

The biggest mistake app development companies are likely to make is assuming that as soon as an app goes live, returns on its software development and app features start rolling in. This is the line of thinking that results in thousands of apps being dumped on app stores with no maintenance.

Installations are directly proportional to effort

The sooner you start making improvements to your app, the more installations it starts attracting. Now and again active users share the apps making their lives better with family and friends. To make an impact on the daily lives of your customers, you have to keep an app evolving according to their feedback.

Regardless how you monetize your app, the more installations your app experiences, the better for you.

Google Play is notorious for purging apps from the app store

When policies change, app stores alert publishers of the changes to effect. Typical changes can be rules and guidelines on collecting and distributing user data.

If you don't maintain your app, suggested changes take longer (if ever) to take place. A quick scan of your app will find it non-compliant. Leading to it being banned on the app store it resides. Given how a good app idea can set you back anywhere between $10,000.00 to $50,000.00 to develop. Maintaining at a lower effort cost helps preserve your investment.

Keeping an active community around your mobile application

Good apps attract communities of users around them. Take games for instance. Facebook groups with thousands of players eventually emerge and share gameplay experience and tips.

Keeping such communities engaged with the app is a perfect way to retain paying users. New seasons, tougher challenges, and more content to your apps will add income and cut short your ROI wait time.

You may have noticed ads that interact with you in the form of portable games. These grow communities around games. Adding intuitive ads requires deliberate maintenance. Other publications are reporting over 8% increased engagement with them. Well worth the maintenance average cost.

How Much Does App Maintenance Cost?

With every reason given above, it's only fair if we boil everything into decisive figures. This not only helps you set a budget; it guides you in making the decision on which to publish your app.

Core advice here would sound something like this; keep the maintenance effort to a minimum.

Most developers will charge you on an hourly basis for the ongoing cost of app maintenance work. The most advanced mobile developers will command pricing upwards of $20 per hour and higher.

All the same, you could also acquire app maintenance services from new developers. While you make a temporary saving of a few notes per hour, the maintenance creeps up eventually. New developers tend to take longer to resolve glitches in native apps. The inexperience can also lead to them doing half-baked work. Eventually, you'll come full circle and hire that guy you thought was expensive earlier on.

The real cost you should be worried about when mending and upgrading apps is time. Not money. Each minute your loyal users are locked out of your app, they are likely scrolling down a list of your competitors.

Different costs depending on the platform?

Another question often asked by app owners is if an app developed for Android devices costs differently to maintain in comparison to that for Apple iPhones. The difference in operating systems is negligible compared to that of a totally different way of deploying applications with native apps.

Hybrid applications maintenance

A hybrid app is one developed using a single framework, language, and app design, but gets packaged for both Android and iOS app stores. Two birds with one stone, and more users with a similar development process.

This helps in so many ways. For one, it sticks in line with keeping the work hours to a minimum. Such an app makes it possible to make changes on the core source, and both app variations get new features and functionality.

Conclusion: How Much You Maintain Your App Is Up to You

When all is said and done, the actual app maintenance cost you incur for app and software development is totally up to you. Not only do you get to choose the developer to work with, you can negotiate rates.

You can opt for a delicate platform or go hybrid. Android app maintenance costs, or those for iOS, can be dodged by going the hybrid route.

Increasing features and keeping an app fun will cost you a couple of dollars on the regular. Add a few more for marketing and you start growing a community around your applications. This means more installations.

Final word of encouragement: it's all worth it. The more you spend, the higher traffic and possible revenue you expose your app to. Everyone wants to own a popular app and the money it comes with, yet so few will flip their pockets inside out to get to that point...are you that type?

If you were guaranteed to get more installations and impressive engagement. All of which you can easily monetize. Would you still be worried about the costs or how early you can get to that stage?