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Native app vs. cross-platform: cost comparison in 2020

Native app vs. cross-platform: cost comparison in 2020

June 16, 2020
by Andrew Denysov

Statista predicts the global mobile app market to reach $190 billion in 2020 which is almost 3 times more than in 2015. With 2.5 billion mobile device users, owners of any business from educational activities to retail, have no doubt: if they want to stand the competition, they need to develop a business app.

A successful development of a mobile application is bound to many things, but the one you face immediately as you’ve decided to create it is the choice of the app platform.

Why is it so important?

For example, if your target audience is located in the US, you should take into account that 58% of the US mobile operating system market share is held by iOS and 41% by Android, while in India 94% of market share belongs to Android. Whereas in the case with India it’s obvious what action to take, if you develop for the US market you can choose one of two possible ways: either to build a native app for each platform or to develop a cross-platform app supported by multiple platforms.

This an age-old debate has divided the tech community into two large camps that have been arguing with each other about the pros and cons of the aforementioned for years. And though a lot has been already said regarding this question, the constantly evolving state of app development makes app owners, developers, and users review this issue every year to find out the novelty in the field.

What are the advantages of cross-platform app development?

During the last few years we can see the rising popularity of cross-platform application development which is dictated by multiple advantages it brings:

Less time and money

Cross-platform app development is cheaper and faster as you can reuse a significant account of code including the backend and all UI levels. It reduces cross-platform app development time by almost 10-20% what means much faster release, less marketing spendings, and ability to maintain a smaller team of developers than it’s required for a few native applications.

Wide audience reach

A cross-platform application is a solution for multiple operating systems, there is no need to create unique elements for each platform separately what not only makes a development process much easier but also provides access to a wider target audience.

Easier development and maintenance

Due to the existence of a single codebase, bugs identification, and solving, creating different updates takes a limited amount of specialists and twice less time than native app development.

Despite having a list of advantages, developing a cross-platform app has some flaws that you won’t face while creating native applications. They are:

Performance issues

Contrary to native applications, cross-platform apps don’t flawlessly integrate into the target operating systems. Because of including an additional abstraction layer, they process more data and therefore run slower. Sometimes it also might be challenging to use all the functions of smartphone software as camera, microphone, offline mode, and so on.

The sacrifice of the perfect UX and UI

A shared codebase is a big advantage on the one hand but on the other — it may fail in providing a vigorous UX across all the platforms. Such mobile applications can’t completely take advantage of some native features that magnify user experience.

It’s also challenging to create and maintain a neat design with smooth animations when using a shared codebase. Native app development allows users to navigate a familiar interface, as they flawlessly integrate with mobile operating systems what can be only partially achieved by increasing multiplatform mobile app development cost and time for its development.

An updating delay

While developers of native applications can immediately publish all updates and smoothly fix all bugs, you’ll have to wait until frameworks adopt its development tools to allow you to integrate new functionality coping with operating systems restrictions.

Taking into account the advantages and disadvantages of both ways of app development that are mutually exclusive, one may say that native apps are doubtless winners in this competition. Although due to the continuous evolution of cross-platform apps, they’ve become much more reliable and user-friendly than their previous versions and are the perfect option in case you are limited in funds, want to prove your business idea for yourself or investors or just need a corporate app.

Factors that determine the cross-platform mobile app development cost

  • Synchronized development. You will get all apps for target OSes at the same time (roughly) and drastically cut the expenses compared to the native development of each app.

  • One team. Cross-platform development will require only one team which is easier to manage and cheaper to sustain.

  • Reusable code. Programmers will do at least two times more work while using common code for all platforms, cutting the working hours and price as a result.

  • Existing frameworks. Frameworks developed precisely for cross-platform app building allow to speed up the process, and unique framework libraries are a helping hand you never expect to see.

Cross-platform mobile apps: talking numbers

The costs vary greatly and solely depend on the number of features and their complexity. The prices can start around $5,000 and go beyond $1,000,000, according to Clutch 2017 survey. The location of the development company and their reputation play an important part in adjusting the development costs.

A small app with just a handful of functions may indeed cost you from $5,000 to $10,000, but the feature-packed project will require a lot more.

Offshore outsourcing companies (in Ukraine, Russia, etc.) will offer quality services. Their prices will vary roughly from $5,000 to $60,000 depending on the app you want to build. The numbers are estimated as it's all up to you. To request a pack of functions and performance levels that may even go beyond the max average value or settle down with a smaller project.

Final thoughts

Wrapping up, cross-app development can’t currently win the opposition with native apps. At the same time, it’s a perfect solution in some cases as its faster, cheaper, and easier.

Whatever choice you make, we have expertise in both. Don’t hesitate to drop us a line.


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