Unless you have iPhone programmers willing to do the work cheaply, and are coming up with a rather simple utility or business app, developing an exceptional iPhone app is expensive — probably more so than you might think.

In the early days of the App Store, you didn't see huge companies creating apps for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and releasing the apps with the backing of a big marketing budget. You had independent developers cobbling together apps on their own, and occasionally making huge amounts of money.

The ironic thing is that, while apps have become way more expensive to develop over time, the prices of the apps are still at their initial plateau of $;0.99, and occasionally more (albeit sometimes way more for those rare niche apps). There's still the hope for huge profit for any endeavor, and surprise hits will always appear from nowhere to dominate the charts for a time and spawn copies. But you need the right combination of features, usability, and release buzz to drive a success.

So, how much does it cost in 2011 to make an app? According to a Stack Overflow ( forum answer by Craig Hockenberry (the developer of “Twitteriffic,” shown in Figure 2-6, and available at, this popular social media app would have cost upward of $250,000 to create, had the owners not done the estimated 1,100 hours of programming on their own. This was at their quoted rate of $150 per hour. As it was, design ...

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