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How much does it cost to outsource app development vs. build in-house?

TL;DR: In-house app development costs between $40,000-$180,000 USD plus up to 2500 hours. Outsourcing app development can cost between $20,000 to $150,000 USD. The best and most resource-friendly option is to work with a trusted app development and services provider to convert your website into a full-feature native app (like — for as little as $7,000 USD. Here, we dissect the associated costs, pros, and cons of all these options, and help you make an informed decision that aligns with your specific business goals.

Are you looking to build a full-feature mobile app, but find your tech-savvy developers stretched thin with existing projects? Are you pressed for resources but need to provide your users with an experience beyond that of a wrapper app? 

You’re not alone. 

These are common dilemmas for many of the CTOs, project managers, developers, and agencies who want to get an app to market quickly, but without going over budget or exceeding bandwidth. And they, like you, begin to weigh their app development options, assessing the benefits of outsourcing it vs. tapping internal resources to realize it.

This comparative exercise is also one that many Median customers face. But after weighing the app solutions out there, they choose the easiest and most cost-effective option: working with an external app developer and solutions provider that can deliver a full-feature hybrid app without sacrificing quality.

If you're looking to transform your existing website content into a mobile app (i.e. convert your website into an app for iOS and/or Android) like many enterprise businesses out there, you'll want a comprehensive solution like this that covers all the bases.

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There are key considerations that underpin making this critical business decision, though. We'll dissect some of the associated costs, hidden advantages, and potential pitfalls of in-house development vs. outsourcing app development.

We’ll also walk you through a third ideal version: choosing an innovative and trusted app development platform and solutions provider to deliver your app. This comparative analysis will help you make an informed choice that aligns with your project, business goals, and existing team dynamics. 

How do I choose the right app development solution for my business?

Businesses of all shapes and sizes grapple with the decision around the ‘how’ of realizing their app. The factors to consider when choosing between in-house vs. external software engineering are: 

  • Existing internal resources
  • Budget 
  • How quickly you need the app 
  • Whether you plan to build more (or scale) in the future

Other important variables include the demands and expectations of your specific user base as well as your business model and revenue streams.

If you’re a small organization focused on product development or engineering, you might find yourself with a big project on your hands. Creating a user-friendly app that meets customer demands and drives revenue is no small feat.

But even if you're a corporate leader with an established team of developers, it's worth considering if you want your team to focus on your core business, not niche app development.

Let’s compare in-house vs outsourced app development now.

How much does it cost to build a native mobile app in-house? (And from scratch?)

If you choose in-house development, you’re looking at a significant investment. Depending on the complexity of your app, it can take anywhere between $40,000 to $180,000 USD and up to 2500 hours to develop an app in-house, one that you can confidently launch into the market. 

You’ll need to budget for:

  • Developer Salary ($127K +): In the US, an iOS developer can run on the pricier side with an average annual salary of $134,000, while an Android developer might be slightly more economical at around $127,000 per year. Depending on the complexity of your project, you may need UI/UX designers and other mobile app specialists as well. Note: these are approximations and do indeed vary.
  • HR Costs ($4,000-$35,000): Factor in the time and resources spent on recruitment, which can be hefty, and hiring can be a lengthy and expensive process. Research shows recruiting a new employee costs companies — on average — $4,000, and it can increase up to $35,000 for high-paying, high-skill roles like app development. Needless to say, if that hire doesn’t work out, your app isn’t yet realized, and you’ll have to repeat the process and the cost.
  • Hardware costs ($4,000-$5,000): For each in-house developer, you’ll need to invest in a workstation ($2,000) and a high-performance laptop or desktop which can cost from $1,000 to $3,000 USD. Additional peripherals like a high-resolution monitor and ergonomic keyboard may be needed, costing around $400 to $600.
  • Software costs ($500-$2,000): For a comprehensive suite of software tools needed by an app developer, including IDE, version control, design tools, database management, emulators, testing/debugging tools, CI/CD, deployment, text editors, project management, and security tools, the total cost can range from several hundred to a few thousand dollars annually per developer. 
  • Testing devices ($2,000-$5,000): To ensure your app is bulletproof, you’ll need both cloud-based and physical devices for testing. For this purpose, you typically need to invest in a mix of high-end and low-end iOS and Android devices, including smartphones and tablets. 
  • Internal time and energy (500-2,500 hours): Managing an internal developer and overseeing the project takes time and resources. Time is money, after all, and development can take anywhere from 500 to 2,500 hours.

What are the pros of in-house app development?

In-house app development comes with its own benefits and disadvantages. Let’s explore them in more detail.

  1. More control over quality, features, and design: You can directly communicate your vision and feedback to developers, which may better suit your management style. This also makes it easier to ensure adherence to your standards and guidelines.
  2. Long-term relationship and collaboration: By hiring the right people for the job, you’ll have more opportunities to foster a culture of innovation and collaboration. This also allows for a more in-depth understanding of your business goals, values, and customers in the long run.
  3. Potential cost savings in the long run: Some external developers may charge you a lot for regular app updates and maintenance. Having an in-house team can save you these extra fees or negotiations with external developers.

What are the cons of in-house app development?

  1. Investment in hiring, training, and management: To build an in-house team, you’ll need to allocate a lot of time and money for recruitment and training. You’ll also need to provide your team with the necessary tools, equipment, and infrastructure, which can be quite costly.
  1. Finding and retaining qualified developers: The mobile app industry is competitive and always evolving. This means you might have to go head-to-head with other companies to hire top talent. Plus, there's a chance you'll face some turnover and lose valuable knowledge if your developers decide to move on or switch to different projects, forcing you to repeat the hiring/training process and its costs.
  1. Creativity and innovation limitation: It’s easy for in-house teams to get stuck with a specific viewpoint or preferences about your app. This could cause you to miss out on the latest trends, technologies, or best practices that external or remote developers might bring to the table.
  1. High cost associated with time: All the hiring, training, and coordination efforts that come with building an in-house team can significantly extend your development time. This delay can result in your competitors launching similar solutions ahead of you, potentially leading to a loss of market share and revenue as your customers opt for quicker alternatives.

How much does it cost to outsource app development?

Outsourced app development is less expensive than in-house app development because you can avoid the additional costs associated with an in-house team. But: it’s still pricey. Depending on the complexity of your app and where your mobile app development company is based, outsourced developers can cost you between $20,000 to $150,000 USD.

  • External team costs ($20K-150K+): When you outsource app development, you're essentially hiring a team of experts to bring your vision to life. This includes not only developers but also UI/UX designers, project managers, and potentially other specialized roles. While this can be more cost-effective than maintaining an in-house team, remember you're still paying a hefty sum for their time and expertise. 
  • Research/negotiation costs: We talked about how lengthy and costly hiring a credible app developer can be. Now imagine how complex it would be to find an entire team that you can trust your app development with. It involves researching and interviewing multiple candidates and negotiating terms with them. Depending on the scale and complexity of your app, the process can take quite a lot of time and focus.
  • In-house costs ($5,000 - $30,000): If you choose to handle app updates and maintenance in-house, you may still need to have some level of in-house development and infrastructure. So you’ll be paying for part-time developer salaries and essential software and hardware.
  • Testing devices ($3,000 - $5,000): Since the app is being developed externally, thorough testing is crucial to ensure it functions seamlessly on all platforms and devices. This means investing in a range of devices for testing purposes, including smartphones, tablets, and possibly different operating systems. While this is an additional expense, it's a vital step to guarantee a positive user experience and minimize potential issues post-launch.
  • Time is money: Developing an app from scratch is time-consuming, whether it's done in-house or outsourced. Although outsourcing can potentially speed up the process due to the expertise and resources of the outsourced team, it's crucial to strike a balance between speed and quality. Rushing development can lead to costly mistakes and long-term issues. And, while development is underway, you might not be generating revenue, so it's essential to plan for this in your budget.

What are the pros of outsourcing app development?

  1. Efficient, experienced teams: Outsourcing your app development grants you access to a seasoned team of developers who work cohesively. This eliminates the challenges of team management and training, allowing your project to kick off smoothly.
  1. Potential cost savings: By opting for outsourcing, you'll benefit from lower rates and bypass in-house costs such as recruitment and training. This financial advantage provides you with extra resources that can be reinvested in other critical areas of your business.
  1. Scalability: Working with the right outsourcing agency means you're not limited to one app. If your vision extends to multiple projects, they can be executed simultaneously and at an accelerated pace. This agility is a significant asset in today's competitive market.
  1. Focus on core business activities: Delegating technical aspects to experts allows you to concentrate on your core business functions. This leads to a more streamlined and efficient operation overall. Your time and energy are directed toward where they're most needed, ensuring the success of your business.
  1. Accelerated time to market: Outsourcing partners come equipped with the necessary skills and resources, enabling them to hit the ground running. This significantly reduces the time it takes to launch your app. You can start reaping the benefits and gaining traction in your market much sooner than if you were to build everything in-house.

What are the cons of outsourcing app development?:

  1. You don’t always get what you pay for. There is a lot of competition out there: some are high quality, while others offer the bare minimum (i.e. no ongoing updates, no support services, and no assurance that your app will be accepted by the app stores). Even with expensive external developers, there can be issues with project quality and efficiency due to communication and cultural barriers. Additionally, there might be a relinquishment of control over certain project elements. Comparing vendors, speaking to human representatives, and seeing examples of the end product should be a significant part of your research.
  1. You get what you pay for (if you under-spend). Choosing an outsourcing app builder or partner solely based on a low price tag may not be advisable. This can lead to potential issues like security and intellectual property risks if the partner doesn't adhere to best practices and standards. There's also the possibility of facing legal and regulatory challenges if the partner operates in a different jurisdiction or doesn't comply with local laws.
  1. You may be spending more long term. While an attractive advantage of outsourcing software development could be its cost-efficiency, it can sometimes prove more costly in the long run, as some external firms charge you a fortune for maintaining your app’s codework or adding new features.
  1. Time and resource loss. If your external development agency doesn't follow through, it can result in a significant loss of your time and resources. In some cases, you may even need to restart the entire development process.

What’s the best app development platform for my budget? 

On a budget, but don’t want to sacrifice quality? Then you might want to use a trusted innovative app development platform and solutions provider.

Traditionally, creating and maintaining a native app requires overwhelming time and resources. has been flipping this upside down and building high-quality native apps for a decade, with thousands of satisfied customers.

If you’re looking to take the next step by building a native mobile app, you’ve probably spent significant amounts of time, money, and resources to build a website that very well captures what your business is all about. 

So, why not make the most of this existing foundation to significantly slash both development costs and time compared to starting from scratch?

How much does it cost to hire an app development platform? 

The total ballpark cost of using an app development platform and services provider like It’s a much friendlier figure. If you opt for an instant app builder, you can have your app built and launched within a day or two for as little as $7000!

Here’s what you’ll specifically pay for by building your app using a trusted, innovative app development platform trusted by leading companies:

  • Developer salary ($0): No worries here negotiating and then coming up with a salary, which can often be quite high for developers (especially. Trusted app development services (like Median) are strategically outlined so you know exactly what you’re getting/what we’re supporting based on your plan — and at a fraction of the cost of outsourcing or hiring internally to develop your app from scratch.
  • Costs of an HR process ($0): Really, the only thing you’ll be investing in is the time researching external solutions.
  • Hardware costs (negligible): Since there's little to no codework involved when you build your app using a trusted app builder or web-to-app conversion tool, you can use your existing hardware to manage development and maintenance. 
  • Software costs (starting from $7,000): By entrusting your app development to a specialized app builder, you make a strategic investment in licenses and plugins that directly enhance your end product and user experience rather than software tools for development purposes. 
  • Testing devices ($0): A decent online no-code app builder is equipped with both iOS and Android simulators, sparing you the need for additional devices, which can be quite costly. 
  • Time is money: A powerful app builder doesn’t just save you development time and energy – it shortens your app’s time to market (TTM) from months to weeks. This gives your business an edge over the competition as well as more opportunities for early revenue generation.

Make the right choice for your app.

Businesses trust Median to deliver full-feature apps to their customers. Hear their stories.

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What to look for in a mobile app development platform and services provider

If you're looking to convert your existing website content into a mobile app for iOS and/or Android, you'll want a comprehensive solution that covers all the bases. This means you'll need a platform that not only allows you to quickly develop, customize, test, preview, and publish an app on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, but also does so with minimal coding required.

At the same time, having the flexibility to choose how much control you want is essential. That's why it's great to have the option to self-serve, giving you the freedom to make adjustments according to your preferences.

What’s more, you can ensure that you have access to support plans and expert teams. This way, you can receive assistance with ongoing hardware and version updates, ensuring your app remains compatible and future-proof.

Lastly, when it comes to enhancing your app's functionality, you’ll want to be able to add plugins and audience-friendly features effortlessly. This means you’re always providing your users with an optimal experience, and with no-code app builder tools that make their app experience easier (and more engaging).

Build a full-feature hybrid app at a fraction of the cost with

Looking for a top web-to-app converter or low-cost online app builder and service provider for your next iOS or Android app? That’s us. 

With lower costs, high efficiency, and immediate start, you can get your app off the ground without the hassle of lengthy hiring and development processes. 

So, whether you’re a startup or a seasoned enterprise, consider the benefits of outsourcing. With Median, you’re not just getting an app, you’re getting a seamless exchange of goods and services tailored to your needs.

*DISCLAIMER: This content is provided solely for informational purposes. It is not exhaustive and may not be relevant for your requirements. While we have obtained and compiled this information from sources we believe to be reliable, we cannot and do not guarantee its accuracy. This content is not to be considered professional advice and does not form a professional relationship of any kind between you and LLC or its affiliates. is the industry-leading end-to-end solution for developing, publishing, and maintaining native mobile apps for iOS and Android powered by web content. When considering any technology vendor we recommend that you conduct detailed research and “read the fine print” before using their services.*
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