Developing and launching an app isn't the end. Even the best developers can't iron out all the bugs by the time the app launches, and in the modern world of pre-orders and rushed launches. Apps require a lot of maintenance to uphold their quality standard. 

Thus, maintenance becomes one of the most crucial stages of the mobile app development lifecycle. That's why you should set aside a separate budget just for app maintenance.

But how much does the mobile app maintenance cost?

Let's find out.

App Maintenance Cost – The Background

Mobile apps make the world go round today. By 2025, the number of smartphone users in the US is expected to reach 311 million, which projects a tremendous opportunity for app developers.

When it comes to mobile apps, a lot of focus is put on the coding phase.

However, ideators and developers know that behind the curtain of development, there’s an arduous story of effort and innovation.

A story that involves publishing your app successfully in Google Play or Apple App Store, and marketing it exceptionally.

But, does the story end with development?

No, it doesn’t!

A robust app needs a solid plan for maintenance, which is quite similar to maintaining our electronic devices. It is imperative to monitor the performance and ensure that users are getting upgrades at regular intervals.

Picture this: you’re watching a great, nerve-gripping movie, and the screen just goes blank all of a sudden. Obviously, anyone would go crazy when such things happen. If you’ve paid for the movie experience, then you’d want your money back.

An engaging mobile app is quite similar to that movie experience—users look for a seamless experience without any disruptions.

It is essential to maintain a mobile app to avoid interruptions, and this incurs some additional costs. If you’re not investing in mobile app maintenance, then it could be a reason for your app failure, leading to dreaded app uninstalls.

Numbers show that while new mobile apps published in the store are on the rise, the obsolete apps removed are equally a concern.

Importance of Maintaining and Updating Mobile Apps

As a business owner, you must focus on investing in long-term maintenance that can save your app from becoming out-of-date.

1. Keeping Mobile Apps Updated and Reducing Uninstalls

It’s prudent to feel the pulse of users and curate features that reflect their likes and dislikes.

Studies show that over 71% of users uninstall apps due to annoying notifications.

It means that users are micro-aware of functionality and benefits, and if something doesn’t fit their expectations, they might delete your app.

So, the bottom line is that you need to be continually monitoring user preferences and expectations—and updating your app.

Even app stores maintain strict quality guidelines, and if your app listing doesn’t meet their standards, then they may reject your app listing.

If you find a dip in your app rankings, then the platforms may choose to go on a cleanup drive and remove your app from their stores. It would be prudent to consider updating your app with new features and APIs.

2. Delivering Better User Experiences

There is no secret key to your app’s success and growth. You need to provide better user experiences (UX).

Elegant user experience helps you:

  • Develop long-term relationships with users
  • Get better feedback and positive reviews
  • Improve user retention
  • Increase customer loyalty

Wow! With such benefits, it’s reasonable to put in more effort and provide users with incredible experiences.

Also Read: How Much Does it Cost to Build A Mobile App?

3. Increased ROI in the Long Run

When you regularly update your app, you can get plenty of financial benefits, such as maximizing ROI. It will also help to continually look for innovative ways to decrease costs and acquire new users. How can regular maintenance help?

It’s quite simple! When you fix that occasional bug, you can spread the costs of fixing bugs over a more extended period.

4. Curtailing Downtimes and Revenue Losses

Any downtime could spell substantial revenue losses. Big companies like Bank of America Online Banking, Blackberry, and Amazon Web Services have suffered significant revenue losses due to downtime.

When your team proactively handles such downtimes, it’s quite simple that you’d have curtailed heavy losses and also earned happier users.

Also Read: What Businesses Can Learn from the Iowa 2023 App Disaster?

5. Securing Your Mobile App from Cyber Threats

With the growth of the mobile app, there’s also an increasing quest for cybersecurity. As an app developer, you are responsible for the security of apps and websites.

When hackers are continually searching for loopholes and finding new ways to steal your personal and financial information—you can continuously look into app maintenance and update apps with the latest security protocols.

With so many benefits, as app owners, you’d want to plan to budget for the app maintenance costs. Next, let’s look at the types of mobile app maintenance.

Types of Mobile App Maintenance

Mobile app maintenance type and cost

Emergency Maintenance: There could be an emergency, which implies the nature of the problems—the issues or errors would be sudden, unpredictable, and unexpected. In such scenarios, you need to address the concerns immediately, offering a seamless app experience.

Perfective Maintenance: With trending mobile features and functionalities, you will find new or changed user requirements. It would make sense to proactively take feedback into account and take care of functional modifications in the source code, offering a perfect user experience.

Adaptive Maintenance: With adaptive maintenance, you’d need to keep track of making changes in the application to keep the system updated. You may need to make adjustments in a working environment like an operating system or hardware or software environment that could impact the application’s operation.

Preventive Maintenance: Preventive maintenance implies the intervention or elimination of the occurrence of errors. The focus is on reducing the complexity of the application and improving the maintainability factor through code restructuring, code optimization, and documentation updating.

Corrective Maintenance: With corrective maintenance, you can take care of the repairs, faults, and defects in the application functions. The maintenance also includes errors related to design, coding, and application logic.

As app owners, you’d need to plan for the various types of app maintenance costs. And if you’re looking at a ballpark figure, then you’d need to look at multiple facets while budgeting for app maintenance.

How Much Does App Maintenance Cost?

When you’re looking into app maintenance costs, you’ll consider nurturing servers, push notifications, payment gateways, and more.

After publishing your app on the Google Play and Apple App Store—you may want to monitor the Daily Active Users (DAU) of your app, which talks about the number of app installs and the users who engage in your app.

You may also look at the Monthly Active Users (MAU), which talks of the same statistics but monthly. The general thumb rule is to have both DAU and MAU perform exceptionally for your app’s success.

In the app development life cycle, the maintenance stage comes after the development and publishing stage.

The app maintenance typically needs additional expenses, and the app maintenance costs can be significantly higher during the first year, which is up to 50% of the total development cost, and decrease to 15-25% for each year after that.

The expenses also depend on the number of operating systems. So, if you have a native Android and iOS app, your app maintenance costs could be a little more.

A ballpark average that an app owner will need to spend could be around $250 and $500 a month initially to keep the app functioning perfectly.

You can budget 20% of the cost of initial development when calculating the cost of maintaining software. If your initial development costs are $200,000, you can reasonably expect to spend about $40,000 per year to manage your app.

Let’s see some recurring expenses at the app maintenance stage.

Table 1. Expenses at the App Maintenance Stage

Expense Head Cost ($) per month
Servers $20-$60 per month
Push Notifications $10
Payment Gateways Up to $149 (or more), which also includes a certain percentage of each transaction
Emergency Maintenance Depends on the nature of Emergency
App Stores Developer Fee $25 at Google Play, $99 at Apple App

Here are some more items that you need to keep in mind when taking the cost of app maintenance into account:

1. Hosting

The server cost for mobile apps and app hosting prices is a critical expense head in the app maintenance costs. You would need to consider what kind of server you need for your app and then calculate the associated app hosting costs.

Depending on the type of app data, you can plan out the server resources. You can check out if the app data is more text-based or static or if you are handling audio, video, and other massive chunks of data being sent or received by users.

You will need more server CPU, memory, and disk space for more extensive data, which will lead to increased costs. An app hosting server can range in price anywhere from $70 per month up to $320 per month, which largely depends on factors such as the content, the number of active users, and projected growth.

You will find multiple hosting options, such as a cloud-based environment. Cloud services like Amazon Web Services (AWS) are typically less expensive as you only pay for what you use, and there the maintenance cost of the server itself is lesser.

2. Analytics

Mobile app bugs, crashes, and other glitches need to be monitored and analyzed—and you’d need tools like Google Analytics that provide insights to help you make better decisions.

You inevitably check out your users’ preferences and expectations so that you can make quick decisions. You will find plenty of free tools but some advanced tools that may cost to provide critical insights.

The monitoring and decision-making also involve a cost in time, and you’d need to plan to choose tools that suit your business needs.

3. Bug Fixing and Updates

Regular updates can help resolve and quickly fix bugs and enhance the UX. If you look at any app, then you’d find that there are updates for the app. The cost of the updates varies—and depends on a lot of factors.

Consider you have one bug that requires a quick fix in the line of code—it would cost you around $50. What if you need to update a functional aspect?

It could take you a couple of weeks to fix, and the costs could be around $1,000-$2,000. The prices are typically dependent on the size of the app and the nature of changes in the functionality. As an app owner, you’d need to consider the maintenance of such facets.

4. Third-Party

While developing your app, you may choose to use licensed technology at a fee. So anything in your app that comes from someone else involves a monthly cost. You’d need to consider calculating such third-party costs.

5. Customer Support

Let’s think of the movie experience, if you would have a sudden disruption in the movie screening—you’d have angry customers.

Similarly, if users have any complaints, then it would be great if they can voice their concerns and have a pleasant complaint resolution experience. You may consider investing in customer support, which will be an ongoing cost but can have benefits such as positive reviews.

The more feature-rich your application is—you could expect additional expenses. The costs of maintaining your mobile app would be dependent on various factors, including the app's functionality, and it is prudent that you budget for the expenses.

As you mull over bringing value through your mobile app usage, it would be best to chalk out and follow some of the best practices in the industry.

Best Practices for App Maintenance

With best practices, you can ensure that your users have a seamless and excellent app experience. Here’s what you can consider:

1. Adding New Feature Updates

It’s a great idea to monitor and check out improvement areas and new features that will add value to your app.

2. Keeping User Interface (UI) Updated

With trending styles and usage habits, you’d need to keep track and keep the user interface updated, which is essential to your app’s success. The more trendy your app, the happier your existing users are.

3. Monitoring Performance

It is critical to check your app performance. So look at the loading times, lags, and responsiveness issues and stay updated with the help of analytics reports.

It is vital that you know your retention and churn rates, analyze patterns of customer usage, and track your engagement and conversion rates.

4. Scheduling System Maintenance

When you schedule regular system maintenance, it is an excellent way to avoid missing out on issues or bugs. You can inform users beforehand about having the system down for maintenance and keep your app up-to-date.

As Peter Rojas, Co-founder of Engadget and Gizmodo, says, “In my opinion, the future of mobile is the future of everything.” As app owners, you have a responsibility to curate the future of mobile by ideating app maintenance and implementing it efficiently.

An Experienced Technology Partner for App Maintenance

If you want to create excellent app experiences—then you must plan out app maintenance. If you’re an app owner, who needs help with budgeting and maintaining your mobile apps, get in touch with us.

We are an award-winning team of web and mobile application developers with vast experience in emerging technologies like AI and IoT.

Let’s talk.

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Michael Georgiou

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