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How Much Does it Cost to Build a Mobile App in Hong Kong in 2022/23?

November 20, 2022 ・8 min read


How much does it cost to make an app? The cost of designing, developing, and maintaining a mobile application is the first priority that most companies consider when deciding to commission app development. In fact, the price of app development is possible from less than $100,000 to millions.

Why is the Mobile App Development Cost Difference so Big?

The cost of a mobile app can vary significantly depending on various factors. The following are the most important ones:

App Functional Requirements

Like any electrical appliance, different brands, types, functions, follow-up service support, etc., will cause price differences. Therefore, before inquiring how much the mobile app will cost, it is best to get a high-level idea of what functions the app will support, or you can base your requirement on an app on the market that has a similar concept and add your unique ideas and concepts. This will give the developer a clear understanding of your needs, and the initial offer you get will be more accurate.

Generally speaking, mobile apps with pure display functions have lower design and development costs; shopping apps will have different price differences according to the complexity of the functions, and the parts of the IoT will have different prices depending on the way of networking and data transmission.

Mobile App Development Methods

There are three common development methods and the prices are sorted from low to high:

White-label Solutions

Some development companies have their own solutions, and users can use their own Logos, product pictures, and descriptions. In addition, the existing functions and subsequent development of the App are determined by the development company, and the user’s customised needs for products will not be satisfied.

  • Advantages: The price of building an app with white-label solutions is extremely cheap, you can even rent it monthly or try it out, and you can go online quickly
  • Disadvantages: Weak custom development ability, member information cannot be taken away by platform monopoly, need to find other manufacturers after performance growth, which is equal to the cost of paying twice

Outsourced Studios or Freelancers

There are many platforms on the market that can hire freelancers and outsourcing companies. The more famous ones in Hong Kong are Freelancer, Upwork, Hellotoby and other three platforms.

  • Advantages: The cost of building an app by hiring a studio or a freelancer is slightly cheaper and customisable.
  • Disadvantages: Cases are prone to delays or cannot be completed, because the platform is not responsible for the work of freelancers, there will be no way to seek compensation and finally the app cannot be successfully launched.

Full-time Design and Development Company

This type of manufacturer specialises in customised app development for customers, and the quotation is not necessarily more expensive. Every cost of developing a mobile app is quoted according to customer needs, and the flexibility to adjust to customer needs is very large, and it is also more secure for subsequent maintenance. In particular, the company’s designers and engineers are complete, which can not only achieve the beauty of UI design but also ensure the quality of development.

  • Advantages: Customised app development service, quotation according to demand, and follow-up maintenance are also guaranteed.
  • Disadvantages: slightly expensive, UI interface design ability depends on the design ability of each company.

App Development Technology

The technology used is one of the crucial factors influencing how much a mobile app costs. Apps are roughly divided into three types:

  • Native App developed with Android or iOS
  • Web browser operation to execute Web App
  • Hybrid App that mixes both features

The first two are used by most customers. The cost of developing a Web App with a simpler program and interface is the lowest. As for the longer development time, a Native App compatible with more functions comes with the most expensive development cost.

If you are interested to know more about the pros and cons and technologies of developing a mobile app with the three different methods, read “7 Minutes to Know All About Mobile App Development: Process and Technology.”


Mobile App Development Cost Breakdown

So how much does it cost to make an app? First, let’s analyse how the app development cost is composed of:


App Development Cost

The most important development cost of developing an App, the labor cost is definitely the largest. To make an app, at least the following people are required:

Project/Product Manager

The project/product manager is mainly responsible for the communication between customers, designers, and engineers. This role is very important, it is up to the project/product manager whether the finished product of the app development is as you expected. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to whether the project/product manager can easily understand your requirements and whether they will fully confirm the requirements with you; in addition, it should also be noted that the project/product manager must be a designer or engineer, not a businessman. Because he must also be able to communicate accurately with the designer or engineer.

App Designers

App designers are mainly responsible for interface design and user experience to ensure that the app usage process is humanised and aesthetically pleasing. It’s even better if designers have some UX foundation, because their experience in usability and ease of use is very helpful in designing a smooth app experience.

App Engineers

App engineers are further divided into front-end program development and back-end system development. For very complex large-scale development projects, we will also need database administrators, development operations engineers, software security engineers, etc. Here, special attention should be paid to the seniority and development experience of the engineer.

For example, when developing an app that will have a large number of users online in a short period of time (live streaming, limited-time group purchase, online ticket grabbing, etc.), it is especially necessary to confirm whether the engineer has developed a similar system; another example is an app with more privacy or cash flow, It is necessary to focus on whether the engineer or the company has sufficient information security technology and experience.

App Testers

App testers refer to specialised staff who understand the functional requirements of the product, test them, check whether the software has errors, test whether the software is stable, and write corresponding test specifications and test cases. There are many development companies that do not arrange special testers in order to save costs, which leads to the problem that the software is full of problems due to lack of testing and cannot achieve the desired effect after the launch. Testers can be divided into three categories according to their level and position:

  • Senior software testing engineer: proficient in software testing and development technology, has a good understanding of the industry of the software tested, and can analyse and evaluate possible problems;
  • Intermediate software test engineer: write software test plans and test documents, formulate work plans for the software test phase together with the project team, and be able to reasonably use test tools to complete test tasks during project operation;
  • Junior software test engineer: test the function of the product according to the software test plan and process to check whether the product is defective.

Mobile App Development Cost Examples

Most of the cost of app development comes from the salaries of programmers. Depending on the development needs, the number, qualifications, development time of app developers, and price differences can be pretty huge. Therefore, if you want to formulate a budget for developing an app, you can first consider the development needs and then make a judgment.

If you only want to create an app that displays information and does not require interaction, the development program will be simpler, and it will not require too many engineers to write and produce, and the cost will start at HK$50,000; however, if you need to develop back-end services (including data storage) , data encryption, account management, messaging, social network integration, etc.) and API services (allowing third-party development) Native App, it takes more time and labor costs to use UX programmers, project managers, iOS /Android application developers, server developers and graphic designers, together to handle the entire program development, and the cost will also increase to HK$120,000 or up.

To help you understand the relationship between development time, use cases and development costs, UXlicious illustrated the 4 common app architecture cost schemes in the table below:

Third-party Charges

On top of the app development cost, based on the functionalities provided by different mobile apps, some payments may be required by third-party service providers.

Payment Gateway Fees

If your app needs to allow users to place an order to purchase goods or services, it needs to integrate at least one payment gateway. The more popular payment methods in Hong Kong include debit/credit cards, Alipay, WeChat Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, FPS, and PayMe. However, general merchants do not need to support all the above payment methods, debit/credit cards, Alipay, and WeChat payment can already guarantee that 60% of users can complete the online payment.

When choosing a gateway, the payment methods and transaction fees supported by the gateway are usually the key consideration. Many gateways support a variety of payment methods, but their fees are usually higher; if you directly connect with payment methods, you can reduce the cost, but because you need to connect multiple interfaces, development time and cost will be relatively extended.

Usually our suggestion is to choose a gateway that can support multiple payment tools and go online, and decide whether to directly integrate a certain payment tool according to the cash flow to better control the cost. Below is a comparison of the fees of the more common payment gateways/payment tools in the Hong Kong market:

SMS Gateway Fee

If your app requires the user to provide a real mobile phone number, the SMS one-time verification code (OTP) service may be used when registering and retrieving the password. If you need to notify important information such as order delivery, refund arrival, etc.

A text message may need to be sent. If the user only needs Hong Kong to receive SMS, the charge per SMS generally ranges from HK$0.2-0.4; if you want to support mobile phone numbers from multiple countries, you will choose API interfaces such as Twil, and the charge per SMS is generally US$0.0545 (HK$0.43) or more. 

Live Stream API Charges

If the platform provides a live broadcast function, a third-party live broadcast interface needs to be applied. The live broadcast technology market includes international top cloud technology companies such as Google Cloud, IBM, Amazon Web Service, Tencent, and professional video technology providers such as Agora, Dacast, and Wowza.

When using the Live Stream API, you pay for on-demand live encoding and live streaming, which means you pay for the resources you use. Hourly rates are calculated based on the length of time each channel has been enabled, and costs will vary based on input and output resolutions.

If the platform provides a live broadcast function, a third-party live broadcast interface needs to be applied. The live broadcast technology market includes international top cloud technology companies such as Google Cloud, IBM, Amazon Web Service, Tencent, and professional video technology providers such as Agora, Dacast, and Wowza.

When using the Live Stream API, you pay for on-demand live encoding and live streaming, which means you pay for the resources you use. Hourly rates are calculated based on the length of time each channel has been enabled, and costs will vary based on input and output resolutions. UXlicious helps Shopstream create a mobile app with a revolutionary shopping experience by seamlessly combining live streaming and online shopping. Check out our case study.

Customer Service System Charges

If your App has simple functions and you don’t expect many users to hear the news, it’s fine to use a simple CS email address, but if you want to immediately reply to user inquiries to solve user inquiries; and better manage from different channels (App, social platforms, websites, etc.) information, a customer service system is essential.

The price of customer service systems on the market varies from high to low, and some can even be used for free. Of course, the functions of free software are very limited, and sometimes there are restrictions on the number of accounts created and information sent, and there are certain limitations in use.

The most well-known CRM systems in the market are:

  • HubSpot is a system known for its marketing automation capabilities but also has CRM capabilities. The great thing about HubSpot is that while it’s not a super-powerful or complex CRM system, it still provides users with a free option, which is a way to get you on the platform so that eventually you might use a marketing automation system and then you Pay for it again.
  • Sage CRM is an ERP system that is also used by many mid-sized companies and some small organizations. This CRM system is very powerful. It can do a little more with forecasting and planning, it can do some marketing automation for customer service.
  • Salesforce CRM has been around for about 20 years, and they were one of the first best-of-breed systems. Salesforce is a fairly complex product; it can do many different things. Salesforce has also created an ecosystem of third-party apps that extend and enhance functionality. For large organisations with complex needs, SalesForce can meet the different needs of various departments and processes.

System Cloud Storage Server Cost

The rental cost of the server is generally several thousand mosquitoes a year, and the cost increases according to the hardware performance and network traffic. Of course, enterprises can also choose to buy a host and set up their own computer room. Compared with self-built and leased forms, renting cloud storage can save the cost of computer room construction and server maintenance, and achieve zero initial investment. The main differences between cloud servers and traditional servers are:

Cloud servers are virtual services without substantial property rights, while traditional servers are real physical devices with property rights.

By default, the cloud server has the function of automatic data synchronisation and backup, which can ensure the integrity of the data; while the traditional server needs to install a hard disk for RAIS to realize automatic backup.

The usual configuration and bandwidth of cloud servers are relatively low, while traditional servers will have higher configurations and sufficient bandwidth, but the cost will be higher.

Cloud servers can be purchased on demand, and cost control is more flexible. Traditional servers have hardware costs, which are relatively high. Compared with traditional servers, cloud servers are more efficient, more flexible, and more secure.

Most of the cloud servers are server clusters provided by major companies (Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Service AWS, Google Cloud Partner GCP….). Of course, we can also see some vertical providers that specialise in live stream technologies.

Talk to Professionals to Calculate your App Development Cost

Do you feel troublesome with so many details to consider? A well-functioning, fast-running app does require good pre-design and requirement planning, skilled development and testing teams, and good post-maintenance work. These are difficult areas to master for many individuals and companies that do not have their own development and design teams at all. 

UXlicious can provide you with the most professional and complete mobile app design and development services, whether it is a game for a single marketing campaign, a lottery App, a membership registration discount App, or a multi-functional business application, it can be tailored to your needs. Our team of designers, engineers and product managers can handle the end-to-end process from requirement documentation to post launch monitoring, help you develop applications that meet user habits, and show your unique brand image.

Takeaways About Mobile App Development Cost

The price of app development ranges from less than $100,000 to millions. There are mainly the following factors:

  • App Functional Requirements
  • App Development Method
  • App Development Technology

App development techniques are roughly divided into three categories:

  1. Native Apps which are developed with the development methods provided by the operating system manufacturers themselves (Xcode, Objective-C for iOS and Android Studio, Java,  Kotlin, Eclipse for Android)
  2. Web App which are developed with front-end web technologies wuch as HTML and backend languages such as PHP, Node JS,Ruby on Rails, etc;
  3. Hybrid app refers to the practice of developing client-side programs in the form of web apps in general, but can finally be packaged and put on the app store like native apps

Mobile app total cost can be broken down into:

  • Development cost: the cost of hiring the team to develop the app, it can vary from HKD50,000 - HKD100,000 for a simple display app to over HKD800,000 for a high-performance live stream app;
  • Third-party cost: third party providers that support functions such as SMS, payment, customer service, live stream etc;
  • System cloud storage cost. 

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