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Application Development: Build or Buy?

Apps are largely a part of successful B2B strategies, but the high costs and long development cycles are two reasons to consider when deciding to build or outsource. Read our article and discover what the best option for you is.

There’s no doubt that application development is a central piece of successful digital strategies, especially among B2B businesses and e-commerce. Apps are the face of complex and deeper data-based strategies.

However, there are plenty of aspects to consider when deciding to build or buy software, that range from; costs, to the development cycle and maintenance. In our article, we’re covering:

  • What are the different types of application and their benefits
  • How much does it cost to develop an app
  • Facts to consider when choosing to build or outsource
  • What is the application development cycle

Why is App Development So Important — and Why Invest?

An application is software that supports a business function. Application development consists of several stages that occur throughout its lifecycle, including gathering business requirements, designing, developing, testing, deploying, and finally, maintenance.

In today’s market, applications are a crucial touchpoint to gather end-users information and put it back in a cycle to learn more about your customer, especially if we’re talking about e-commerce and other B2C businesses in general.

In this article, we’ll cover all things App Development, so let’s start with the most straightforward topic, the benefits.

The Benefits of App Development

1. Users spend most of their time on mobile apps

Users spend around 90% of their daily screen time on apps and just 10% on web searches. If you’re struggling to get users to visit your website, building an app might be your ticket to success.

2. Increasing accessibility 

Having a website for your business is great, but users spend more time on their phones than on their computers. Investing in a mobile app puts you literally inside your customer’s pocket. They allow customers to access your business anywhere and at any time.

3. Increasing customer retention

New customers are difficult to acquire, more complex in fact than retaining them. Having a mobile app for your company can increase the number of touch points you have with your customers, making retaining them much more manageable.

4. Building trust 

Most users nowadays are a little more cautious when it comes to trusting companies. Having an app makes your brand seem more trustworthy and professional.

5. Building a community

Building a community around your brand is one of the best ways to strengthen your brand image, improve customer retention, and increase average lifetime value. 

6. Increase in sales & mobile conversions

500 companies that recently adopted a mobile-focused marketing approach saw an 80% increase in sales, with 42% of mobile sales coming from applications. 

7. Boost market research 

Having a direct lie to your users can offer you a lot of valuable data on what they like and how they think.

How much does it cost to develop an app?

This should honestly be the first question on anyone’s mind when developing an app. Many factors can influence the price of app development but the average ranges and development times are as follows:

Simple App Development Cost – $40,000 to $60,000 (2-3 months)

Average App Development Cost – $60,000 to $150,000 (3-6 months)

Complex App Development Cost – from $300,000 (9+ months)

But the answer to how much it will cost you to develop an app depends on the app itself and the features you plan on adding to it. The best way to get an approximate estimate is to contact the developer, but it’s essential to have a detailed list of the features you want and terms of reference. 

What affects mobile application costs?

There can be a range of different aspects that affect the final cost of your mobile application development. Some are more telling than others, such as the company you choose and the country they reside in, but let’s just list a few:

  • Complexity of the design and number of screens;
  • Alterations throughout the development process;
  • Rigor of the quality assurance phase;
  • Number of functions and features;
  • Complexity of features;
  • Complexity of your database;
  • Number and complexity of 3rd party integrations;
  • Implementation of security protocols like HIPAA or GDPR;
  • Size and level of the development team.

Build or Buy Software? X Facts To Consider In Your Decision

Build or buy software? This is the first decision faced by all development projects. Many off-the-shelf applications provide all (or, at least, most) of the functionality you need. On the other hand, if an organization has unique requirements, creating in-house software is the better bet.

If you haven’t already heard, the United States is suffering from a bit of a talent shortage. This makes software engineers a scarce and expensive resource.

As a business, you should always look for the most affordable solutions. When it comes to IT projects, however, the cost can quickly pile up. You have to factor in spending on the initial build, support, testing, upgrades, and market state. And often, things don’t go as planned. One in six IT projects exceeds its estimated timeline, and the overrun average cost goes up to 200%. 

On the other hand, buying software would require a substantial upfront cost but a good investment in the long run. Since it’s ready to use, there are no unforeseen issues on the development side. It saves you from all the financial headaches associated with building in-house software.  

Overall the best way to decide this is by seeing what’s out there on the market. If you’re able to find a ready-made build that you think would fit your needs (even if it needs a minor alteration), then that’s probably your best bet.

But, if you haven’t found a single company that can make the custom build you are asking for, or their estimation for making such a complex build is beyond 200% of the cost to build it in-house, then you’re probably better off making it yourself.

App Development Services: What Type of Application do you Need?

1. Mobile app development

This is software that can run on the most popular mobile operating systems, such as Android and iOS. This accounts for over 7 billion mobile users worldwide. According to the Mobile App Trends 2021 report, mobile app installs increased by 31% over the last year. And this number doesn’t seem to be going down any time soon.

Developers use different programming languages for each operating system. This also means that they’ll have different budgets and requirements. Cross-platform apps are tricky, so if you want to hit both markets, you’re probably better off making two versions. 

2. Web app develoment

Web applications are software developed for a specific purpose, hosted on a web server. They are made to run on a web browser, such as Opera, Google Chrome, or Safari. 

3. Rapid application development

Rapid Application Development was created to address some of the problems of waterfall development. It emphasizes rapid prototyping and the creation of a minimum viable product: this is then iterated on to add features and functionality, addressing any issues along the way. RAD relies upon highly skilled and adaptable software developers who, as we’ve seen, are in short supply. 

4. Cloud-based applications

Cloud-based solutions are believed to dominate the digital world. According to Cisco, the cloud-hosted over 94% of workload and computing processes in 2021. The cloud approach is also becoming extremely popular in eCommerce and other specific business areas due to advantages such as scalability, enhanced productivity, traffic cost reduction, and significantly lower equipment cost. 

5. Native & hybrid apps

Native mobile apps are designed to be “native” to one platform, whether it’s iOS, Android, or Windows. The native platform can be advantageous because it optimizes the user experience, and because it was developed specifically for the platform, it can operate more quickly and intuitively.

Hybrid apps can be installed on devices just like native apps, but they run through web browsers. Because you don’t have to build and maintain apps for separate platforms, your business can save time and resources. It’s ideal for apps that primarily deliver content.

6. Mini apps, super apps & mini-programs

A super app is an ecosystem with a variety of services that are not necessarily related to each other but coexist within the same program. This can include features like social media (messaging), payments (transfers), and products (online marketplace). 

Mini apps are small applications that solve a problem within the Super App, which is the host. Mini Apps are loaded dynamically at the user’s request and are found through different Discovery Points.

The mini programs are the same as mini apps with the exception that they are executed in already established Super Apps such as Alipay or WeChat. Some experts claim that Mini Programs have 80% of the functionality of a native application but with only 20% of the development effort.

7. Ecommerce apps

An e-commerce app—sometimes referred to as a mobile commerce app—is a piece of software that allows customers to browse and purchase items from an online store. This is the suggested choice for retailers.

8. Low-code applications

Low-code and no-code are software development approaches that enable the delivery of applications faster and with minimal hand-coding by providing a visual development environment.

Low-code is excellent for developing standalone mobile and web apps and portals that require integration with other systems and several data sources.

No-code tools, by contrast, should only be used for front-end use cases and are usually associated with citizen developers. So, unless you’re developing only the simplest applications and require little in the way of customization, low-code is likely the better option.

How’s the application development life cycle?

The development life cycle of an app can be split up into six different phases. Let’s cover each of them as well as what they entail.

Discovery phase

This is the first step of the development life cycle and, as such, will always involve competitor research. This is followed by feature mapping, technical requirements specification, and finally, the setting of costs and deadlines.


The design phase is split up into three distinct steps:

  • Sketch

The first step is sketching. At this stage, the designers prepare the concept of the app.

  • Wireframe

Next, it’s time to transfer it onto a tablet and prepare a black and white model of each screen. These already look more or less like a finished design but without the actual content and color scheme.

  • Prototype

This is the last stage of design. A prototype is a clickable model of an app that looks just like the real app. However, the backend part still lies in the future, so it doesn’t function. 


The development process can be divided into two parts.

  • The front-end 

This is the user side, so-to-say, or the face of the program. This is what users will be interacting with once they’ve downloaded your app. The job of a front-end developer is to guarantee a flawless user-friendly experience.

  • The backend 

This is the developer side. Think of this like all the wires and gears that rest inside an ATM, all you see is the screen and the money coming out, but there’s no little man in there handing you your cash. It’s responsible for all the operations, calculations, and reliability of the app.

Quality Assurance

Proper testing should cover up to 90% of all potential risks. To optimize the testing process, some of the checks can be done via automatic testing and the rest through manual tests. It’s always easier to fix bugs before release than to keep coming back to this step repeatedly after you’ve published the app to the store and collected negative user reviews.


You’re finally ready to go to market. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for (or dreading) throughout development. But don’t think that this is the last your developers will ever see of this app. Up until now, users haven’t seen all the hard work you’ve put into your application, but they soon will.


This is what users will remember you for, not how good the app is on launch, but how you can respond to issues, questions, and concerns. This is also your chance to get user feedback in order to create new, advanced features for your app. Good maintenance is the cornerstone for any successful app.

How MJV can Help? The MJV Mixed Model

MJV prides itself on being a technology and innovation expert. We’ve helped hundreds of companies reach their goals in the design and technology fields and are well suited for the current context in which modern app development finds itself.

Overcome the Talent Shortage

MJV has a large pool of talented professionals in all areas of IT, including app development. We also offer their services in a multitude of languages, with native English, Portuguese, French, and Italian, just to name a few. 

Offshore & Nearshore

MJV operates in several different countries and hemispheres. With 10 international offices in Paris, London, the USA, and more, we are optimally positioned to provide native-language outsourcing, no matter where you’re located or what language you speak. This means that we are especially well-suited for Offshore and Nearshore IT outsourcing.

Cost Savings: Software Factories in Latin America

As we stated earlier in this article, the location of software development offices can significantly impact the cost of app development. With offices in Latin America, we can offer a much lower price than software development providers in Europe or the United States.

Scaled productivity: 12-hour work teams

For companies looking to develop apps at scale, or perhaps create an iOS and Android version of the app simultaneously, MJV can provide up to 12 hours of development at a time. With teams located worldwide, one team’s 9-5 might be 1-8 for another. This unique aspect of being a global IT service provider means that development can take less time by having two teams work on the same project, handing off work to one another in shifts.

No matter what your app development challenges might be, we are more than equipped to handle them, and it’s probably something we’ve already seen before. 

Just remember, you don’t have to go it alone.