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What are the Hidden Costs of Mobile App Maintenance?

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

Pushing your MVP or subsequent version updates into production is a huge step. However, they only mark the start of the next software development lifecycle–app maintenance services. Unfortunately, the costs of mobile app maintenance are aspects of product development that are often underestimated.


Once your mobile app remains up and running, the maintenance costs continue. Also, beyond continued uptime, app maintenance is important in ensuring quality. Since competition is fierce in the mobile market, you can’t afford to have a subpar application.


Another important factor that necessitates a mobile app maintenance plan is download count. The more users download your app, the higher the need for excellent maintenance. Furthermore, having your app on either Google Play, AppStore, or a Cross-Platform facility results in varying needs and costs.


These factors make it pertinent to understand the several, sometimes, hidden mobile app maintenance costs.


How to Calculate App Maintenance Costs

Improving your app's retention rate by just 5% (via quality maintenance) can improve business profit by about 25 – 95%. So, it's not a question of if it's important to maintain apps; it's about how to do it effectively.


Processes needed to maintain mobile apps vary because they function in different ways. So, work to understand the influencing factors behind the maintenance cost of mobile apps, then create a custom plan for your app. According to Dev.to, it costs about 15 – 20% of MVP development cost to maintain apps. Diligently budgeting app maintenance costs at such a level will result in unprecedented ROI.


The mobile app maintenance cost estimate is based on the following key factors:


The complexity of the software

The more features your app has, the larger the software codebase. Even when you build your app with a third-party template and framework, it ultimately results in more code. Hence, increased complexity. Consequently, with higher complexity comes heightened mobile app maintenance cost.


Another factor influencing software complexity is the technology used to build and maintain mobile apps. Whether you build for Android, iOS, or cross-platform, determine the cost structure of mobile apps. Third-party services integration also adds to the cost.


Team location

Most times, app maintenance services aren't automated. You need humans to fix bugs, deploy updated design systems, fix broken integrations, etc. Hence, the team's location becomes a vital consideration. The team's location can influence their performance, ultimately affecting your apps' maintenance.


App design

To prevent incurring massive tech debt, employ experienced engineers. When the app development process is standard from the outset, maintenance becomes easier in the future. The mobile app maintenance cost for legacy products and codebases also drops when you hire experts.


The Costs of Mobile App Maintenance

The mobile app business is extensive and can be quickly overwhelming. So, it's vital to break down the app maintenance costs into subcategories. The development team often focuses on the major cost categories and overlooks the minor. Hence, this section will focus on the hidden costs of mobile app maintenance and then recap the obvious ones.


Customer Support and Administrative Services

For developers and founders who focus on the technical aspects of product development, overlooking admin and support services is common. However, these services are as important as hiring senior engineers. The more users get your app, the more hands you need to look over them.


The app needs admin officers to monitor users' accounts. In the same vein, when users have issues with the app, the support team needs to be available. The activities of admin and support staff circle back to improving your app performance.


Marketing Services

A core reason for app maintenance is to improve the business profit returns. Marketing is critical to getting more (paying) users. Irrespective of where your app is hosted, it'll soon become irrelevant without users. Hence, including marketing in your app maintenance costs and budget is best.


Marketing comes in different shades, making it necessary to find what works for your app. Some apps will benefit organically from App Store Optimization. Others may need traditional digital strategies like SEO, social media promotions, content marketing, etc.


Summarily, the mobile app maintenance cost of the 2020s must include marketing.


Analytics

A common statement goes thus; "you can't grow what you can't measure.' In creating a mobile app maintenance plan, you must also track and analyze your users and their activities. For instance, you must know peak times, retention rates, bounce rates, most used features, novel use cases, etc.


Data analytics is a big deal for any modern business. So, you either develop in-house analytics teams and tools or employ a third-party service. Irrespective, analytics must be prominent when calculating the costs of mobile app maintenance.


Infrastructures

The costs of mobile app maintenance are heavily premised on the infrastructures used during development. This subcategory requires rapt attention because as your application increases in volume and complexity, it's easy to miss out on micro-services that cost you money.


Hence, your team must diligently list all the services in use. To avoid incurring hidden app maintenance costs. The list must detail third-party tools, human resources (number of maintenance hours), subscription services, server costs, push notifications, production platform (iOS/Android) fees, etc.


Many times, some apps forget to monitor their push notification services, because it costs meagre amounts. However, in the spirit of efficiently planning the maintenance cost of mobile apps, you must track every dollar.


Security

In a world where cybercrimes are the order of the day, security is crucial to the costs of mobile app maintenance. Since technology continues improving, sophisticated tools that bypass obsolete security measures are always developing. Hence, you must keep your platform up to date. To this effect, performing ongoing security optimization comes at a cost.


Similarly, different regions, countries, and continents have varying legislations around app development. You must also pay attention to this, which comes at a cost – most likely hiring a policy and government relations expert.


Conclusion

Design and development maintenance are a given; you’ll fix bugs, refine codes, improve UI and UX, ship new features, etc. However, the categories listed above receive little attention. So, if you’ve been wondering how to maintain mobile apps better, pay attention to them. These costs of mobile app maintenance may seem difficult to pay initially. However, when done right, they can scale your business.


If you need guidance on the costs of app maintenance, you can start at platforms like Top-Apps.


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