App Maintenance: How to Work Out the Real Cost To Running a Digital Product

App Maintenance: How to Work Out the Real Cost To Running a Digital Product

Mo Hamdouna

Mo Hamdouna

01 Dec 2020 | 4 min read

Is your app ready for launch in 2021? Or are you working on your digital product’s business and financial plan, but still struggling to predict the running costs of the platform after the initial development? Well, we suggest you get ready to revise your estimations and keep reading.

Maintaining an app is crucial to its overall success. Many business owners carve out the budget for development and launch only, failing to incorporate the long term costs.

According to the industry norm, maintenance of the software products will cost anywhere from 15% to 20% of the original development cost. So it's essential you consider this when planning your budget before your digital product’s launch.

The success of an app is of course heavily based on user feedback. This is why many choose to release a simple version (beta) of their app first, see how their customers respond to the core product features, and adopt the changes later based on user feedback. 

We definitely recommend this approach. By first releasing the light version of the app, you go faster to market, minimise initial development costs, and make it simpler to implement changes in different sprints over the upcoming months. Small changes cost less than having to completely redo or eliminate some features if they have gone wrong.

When planning a successful app, you must take into consideration the on-going cost of running the platform after launch which is heavily influenced by the technology stack you opt for

If you decide to develop native apps, depending on each phone platform (iPhone, Android, etc.), then you want to be prepared for inflated maintenance charges. once you decide to update your native app, your work will be separated on each device's development platform.

On the other hand, working with cross-platform technologies such as React Native and Flutter is a good choice as a single app works on both platforms (iOS & Android). It’s multi-platform functionality is cost-effective and has a larger market coverage with effort.

Once your app is developed, tested, and launched, the fun part starts - rowing the business while maintaining and upgrading the product. We will be covering the cost of onboarding and retaining customers in another article, but here we have listed the key parts involved in running an app, to help you estimate your ongoing expenses:


  1. Support - This can be done via an in-house team or dedicated support team. This is an essential service to help maintain product performance, updates, security, backups, bugs, issues, or improvement.

  2. Cloud Hosting - It is where your product will be stored. Think AWS or Microsoft Azure. The cost of this service will vary depending on your backup schedule, expected amount of users, usage, and more.

  3. Third Party APIs - Each project relies on a different set of integrations. You could be paying Xero for its accounting software, Twilio for its SMS, Zoom for their video conference infrastructure, deep linking, or your preferred couriers.

  4. Emails - You obviously need to have your business email - but also consider the cost of your transactional emails like forgotten passwords, welcome emails, etc.

  5. Memberships - CRM, App Stores (Google Play and Apple), tools for analytics, loyalty program, etc. Again, this would vary depending on your business.

Ultimately, the maintenance of your app is as important as it’s launch. By choosing the right technology stack while developing your app and prioritising the updates, you will be able to keep your maintenance costs down.

Being one of the top digital product agencies in Melbourne, we can help you in estimating the budget for your app development, launch, and maintenance. Contact Mo Works today!