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I want to know how much does it cost to develop a free phone app (which means i price it at $0) on:

  1. WP7
  2. iPhone
  3. Android

What if now I want to price the app at $0.99? How much do I have to pay if its:

  1. WP7
  2. iPhone
  3. Android

Also, do I need additional hardware (I'm using Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit)

And do I need to pay for any software?

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closed as off topic by user16764, Kilian Foth, Bart van Ingen Schenau, Martin Wickman, Robert Harvey Jun 5 '13 at 17:42

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Also note that for iOS development, you need a Mac. If you don't own one keep that in mind. –  Billy ONeal May 23 '11 at 3:58
You're complaining that it costs anything for the publishing, but you do understand that in the case of all three they're hosting the app or apps for you, paying for 100% of the bandwidth of people downloading them. Yeah, if 10 people download your single app then it's not ideal, but if you get a million downloads each of 5 free apps it's an amazing bargain. And those prices stay the same if you make $10k from ads that year, or whatever. It's hella reasonable, imo. –  Matthew Frederick May 23 '11 at 4:58
@Matthew: in the case of Apple, they're also prohibiting you from hosting it yourself. I'd say people have every right to complain. –  Mike Baranczak May 23 '11 at 6:06
@Matthew - was anyone complaining? There's reasons to want to know the costs that don't involve complaining - choosing, budgeting etc. –  Steve314 May 23 '11 at 6:50
@Mike You're still getting the unlimited hosting service, online development support, two direct technical support instances, IDE & compiler, etc. It's 99 lousy bucks. –  Matthew Frederick May 23 '11 at 7:09

6 Answers 6

up vote 70 down vote accepted

Apple charges $99/year to join the iOS Developer Program which lets you publish apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. If you price your app for free there are no further charges. If you charge for your app, Apple takes 30%. You'll need to buy a Mac to develop your app on (you can't develop iOS apps on Windows). All the software you need to develop your app is included in the price of iOS Developer Program membership (most of it also comes for free with every Mac).

Microsoft Charges $99/year to join App Hub, which lets you develop for both the Xbox 360 and Windows Phone 7. Like Apple, Microsoft doesn't charge for distributing free apps (you can submit 100 for free, and after that it costs $19.99 per submission), and they take 30% of the revenue for paid apps. You'll need a machine running Windows (Vista, 7, or 8) to develop your app on, and you don't need to buy any software (though you can buy a Visual Studio license if you need the features provided by the more advanced editions, but that would be unusual).

Google charges a one-time $25 fee to get a developer account on Google Play, which lets you publish Android apps. Free apps are distributed at no cost, and Google takes 30% of the revenues of paid apps for "carriers and billing settlement fees". Unlike iOS or Windows Phone, Android apps don't have to be distributed through an app store. If you choose to, you can distribute your app yourself without involving Google. You can develop Android apps using Windows, Linux, or a Mac. Apps are written with the Android SDK which is available for free.

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The Google offer is just unbeatable. –  Joset May 23 '11 at 4:48
@Joset But the Android market isn't without its problems. It's apparently harder to make money there for various reasons (source). –  Anna Lear May 23 '11 at 5:06
@Anna: it was harder to make money on Android than Apple in 2009/2010. Apparently the trend turned around late 2010. And now, by mid-2011 with Android has 3 times global (2x in US) market share of iPhone. Of course, the thing is, that none of app stores guarantees big bucks. engadget.com/2011/03/09/… –  vartec May 23 '11 at 9:26
@vartec Comparative market share does not automatically scale with app profitability. This recent chunk of statistics, for example, shows Android phones at nearly double iOS phones but Android app revenue at 78% of iOS: j.mp/kH7sgR -- there are many similar stats from the last couple of months. iOS users still buy more apps and pay more money for them, to a degree where it meaningfully overcomes phone count. Mind you, though, that revenue parity is likely coming soon, or at least closing to a point where it doesn't matter as much. –  Matthew Frederick May 23 '11 at 13:43
@vartec I suspect you didn't look at the article. Total revenue including all of those Android phones has iOS making more. As to it being more expensive to develop and maintain iOS apps, how so? The Apple dev program is $65 more expensive, so that's a restaurant meal or two, but how are they more expensive to maintain? –  Matthew Frederick May 23 '11 at 13:59

If you are trying to lower the cost for all platforms, you can focus on Web Based Mobile Apps instead of Native Apps.

There are some free/paid frameworks(PhoneGap, SenchaTouch, Titanium etc.) so you don't have to hire developer for each platform. The performance is not the same as native application but it depends on application you need.

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He's looking for the fees associated with publication, not developer expense. –  DougM Jun 4 '13 at 12:14
However, then hosting fees become a concern. –  Brian Knoblauch Jun 4 '13 at 12:25
@DougM Did I misunderstand? He says 'how much does it cost to develop' –  Gokhan Arik Jun 4 '13 at 18:31

You have to include the costs of buying the actual phones/tablets. While there are virtual phones, you can't really develop for those devices without having the hardware.

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Truth. That's the biggest problem I have trying to maintain some iOS and Android software that our company has. The emulators only get you part way there. Without actual hardware, it's really tough to develop for these platforms. And these platforms are so splintered now (even Apple's) that it costs a small fortune to get all the hardware needed for proper testing. –  Brian Knoblauch Jun 4 '13 at 12:28

Costs $100 dollars a year for Apple(damn I hate apple). Android is a one off $30 payment(thats reasonable to me). Plus they both take a percentage of each sale of your app(unless you have it for free).

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Hmmm. $100 / yr = $8.33 a month. That's a little over $0.25 a day. Not too bad in my book. –  Josh K May 23 '11 at 3:49
@Josh: The median sales for apps is estimated at $600/year. Take off 30% for Apple's commission and you are left with $420 median income. median = half the devs of paid apps will actually make less. And you have to pay $100/ year for the privilege to develop on that platform? In my book, it sucks big time. –  Sylverdrag May 23 '11 at 4:14
@Sylverdrag On the upside, I'm sure the $100 barrier weeds out a lot of garbage or useless apps. –  Anna Lear May 23 '11 at 5:03
@Sylverdrag As a developer, I don't mind the $100 entry fee. It's the considerably higher price of a Mac that stops me. But we're digressing severely here. –  Anna Lear May 23 '11 at 5:40
If it keeps the app store (relatively) free of crapware, I'm all for it. –  Dan Ray May 23 '11 at 13:28

Android is free to play with and such, but requires a one time $25 to sell (Or give away) applications on the Android marketplace

One can develop for the iPhone for free, but must pay $100 to sell them, and to get 100% access to everything. I should add that this assumes that you already have a mac, if you don't, be prepared to buy one. The development kit for iPhones only comes for Mac.

As far as all 3 of the systems are concerned, there is no difference between a free application and one that is a paid one. They all take a 30% cut. You do the math to figure the break even point.

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so if i price the app at $0 everyone can download it and I do not even have to pay any $ ? –  Pacerier May 23 '11 at 4:12
@Pacerier @Pearsonartphoto means that you don't have to pay to develop an Android application, but you have to pay to get a developer account on the Android Market. –  kiamlaluno May 23 '11 at 4:20
"Android is free but costs money" is a bit like "Android is open but you can't have the source" :-) –  user4051 May 23 '11 at 7:40
@Graham. Android itself is free, access to the Android Market costs money. If you don't use the Android Market (and you don't have to) you don't have to pay Google anything. –  Jaap May 23 '11 at 15:25

I'm not sure that working out the nitty gritty of one platform vs another as per most of the replies and comments is really what you need to know (Sorry guys). My reasoning here is that the costs for each developer program and paid apps are small enough and similar enough to not really matter.

I think you need to consider the following points:

  1. Order the platforms according to why you are doing this: to make money, or to do develop for the fun of it? or some other reason?

    • If for the fun, then which platform do I as a developer enjoy using?
    • If for the money, which platform is most likely to generate the most sales and margin per sale?
    • If some other reason, what platforms best suite?
  2. Once you have a platform based on Q1, what are the pros and cons? for example, a pro to iOS is that that all the statistics I have seen support an assumption that it has the best chance for profit from paid apps. A con is that you don't have a Mac. A pro for android is that you have the hardware and it's slightly cheaper to setup. A con is that there are a issues with the number of devices and the their performance characteristics.

  3. Now you have to consider the development costs. If your not trying to run a business then money is not as bigger factor, but regardless - it is still going to take you some time to learn the relevant development systems and SDKs, then to develop something you can actually consider submitting to an app store. If you are looking at this from a more commercial point of view then you also have to start factoring in the time and money costs for such things as graphics artists, marketing, support, servers, etc.

To summarise, I suspect that you need to go up to a higher view of what it means to develop apps. Looking at it from the level you have asked about, is too fine a detail and only a small part of the answer.

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