How to reduce the cost of mobile development

6 min


Make an MVP application

As part of the recruitment of students for the course “Product Manager of IT projects” Sergey Koloskov prepared an article.

We also invite everyone to a free demo lesson “How can a product manager find growth metrics and reduce Unit economics?”
During the webinar, participants will learn:
– why the success of a product manager is the growth of the main metric of the product;
– how to determine the growth metric;
– how to build analytics and product around growth metrics;
– learn how to calculate unit economics, as product managers do;
– what a product manager can do to improve the unit economy.


MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is needed to understand how a product or service hits the audience, while maximizing the cost of recreating. She does not require structural and design excesses – whatever is not there, works hard on the business problem of the product. The MVP concept is relevant when you need to release an application in a timely manner, understand that individuals will use it, and re-check all the hypotheses that you reformulated during the construction phase. By choosing it, you will not waste money on a boring product for your audience. And if there is no interest, then you can develop the application further. The MVP version of the mobile add-on for an online store must necessarily consist of a home page, a search guide, a shopping cart, and a payout function. It’s too late to add animation, connect third-party call centers, suggest how many payment options and implement augmented or online reality. Make sure they buy in the add-on, and further analysis will demonstrate what else the user needs. If you are a store that sells flowers, then your application should have a list of flowers, a basket (the ability to buy) and delivery. There is no need to create a social network for flower lovers, Apple Pay, design from “Lebedev Studio” and the selection of bouquets using artificial intelligence. Your goal is to start selling flowers on a mobile app, and the rest of the above is a nice but very expensive addition that can be implemented later if you want. If you define a minimum of functions for your application, then, most likely, they were solved by the contractor long ago and are worth sane money. You will save (how much is hard to say – the difference between what is needed and what the customer wants is sometimes striking) and get a working product.

There are no particular difficulties in this option. The main thing is not to forget to warn the user that this is only one of the releases, the functionality is not yet fully implemented, be patient.

iOS or Android: which is better to choose

You can save twice or more on application development if you create an application for only one platform – iOS or Android. For iPhones:

  • iOS app users are more solvent;

  • there are not very many types of devices;

  • high rates of software update;

  • stronger protection against hackers;

  • the store has better quality and moderated content.

But the final analysis of the platform is due to the mission of the add-on and its audience. Do you want to buy and place a bet for real users? Prefer iOS. Are you creating a product oriented to the masses, that is, regions, whose inhabitants are not addicted, that is, do not have the opportunity to pay after the numerical products? Carrying out a guarantee use for the sake of couriers and trader’s attorneys can’t afford a precious warehouse of devices? Prefer Android. Do you want to take over the world? Prefer two platforms.

Cross-platform apps: what it is and how it saves money

The app development approach can be native and cross-platform. Native applications are created in a specific programming language for a specific platform: Java and Kotlin for Android, and Swift version 3 or higher for iOS. Advantages: direct access to the hardware part of the device; interface familiar to platform users. Disadvantage: high development and support costs due to the involvement of at least one developer for each platform. Cross-platform mobile application development is carried out using web technologies. In order for the written code to work on mobile devices, it must either be “translated” into a language they understand, or a layer must be made that works on the device and translates calls to device functions from a language they do not understand into an understandable one. You can create a project using native means, or you can use a cross-platform framework. “Nativ” allows you to solve almost any technical problem, to make the application very fast and beautiful. Minus one – the duration and cost of development. With “cross-platform”, everything is completely different. It is divided into at least two types: the first is just a web-view with a website inside that resembles a mobile application, the second is a more advanced version, when all interface elements are implemented natively, but the logic is just in a different, not native, language. The second category includes ReactNative, NativeScript, Xamarin. Of the advantages – again, high development speed, native interface elements, fast application operation, the ability to connect native libraries and components. Advantage: low development and support costs due to the involvement of one web developer.

Disadvantages: the need to refine the interface for each platform according to the guidelines; difficulties in achieving the correct operation of all the necessary functions; slowness, therefore suitable for developing only simple applications.

Cross-platform development can help you save money if you are building a simple application, testing hypotheses, or have your own web developer. In other cases, we recommend choosing native development.

How to save money on the back end

Most of the applications operate with data: they take it through the user, send it to the server. Costs can be reduced:

  1. Store data on the client side, that is, on the device. In this case, the application does not need the Internet to work, but this way it loses interactivity.

  2. Leverage a serverless application architecture

  3. Work with data through integrations with free tools (google spreadsheets, telegram chats)

Savings with Zerocode Tools

The growing market for mobile applications at some point could not help but offer small and medium-sized businesses to create applications in designers and generators.

This approach of creating your own mobile application is positioned as not requiring any knowledge of programming: the user of the designer works in the editor, where he chooses a template for the interface of the mobile application, connects chat, monetization, loyalty program, push notifications, analytics, integrates it with social networks and third-party services, and etc. Why do you need a constructor application? To look around in the mobile environment, to see the relevance of a business idea in it, and if there is one, it will be a green light to develop an application from scratch. There are two types of builders for creating mobile applications:

  1. Such, in which people without knowledge of design and development will be able to do something on their own.

  2. Those in which the creators of these constructors work themselves, building an application for a specific client.

Save money on mobile development with marketplaces

Young businesses may find it more interesting to connect to the marketplace. For example, a restaurant may not create its own application, but create an account on Yandex.Ede, and a shoe manufacturer – in the Ozon marketplace. Having become a partner, the store pays a commission to the site on each sale. Due to the fact that the marketplace manages the process of buying and selling a product or service, you will not be able to build close relationships with the user. As a reminder, the solution is ideal for testing demand – the rest is your application.

PWA instead of app

Progressive Web App is not just a website: it opens in a mobile browser, sends push notifications, has access to some hardware parts of the device, and opens from the desktop by clicking on an icon. At the same time, it takes up less space on the device. Over the years, enough cases have appeared confirming that PWA plays into the hands of business: users like the experience they received from the application, and they continue to use it, carry traffic and buy goods. Lancome, Tinder, Uber, Pinterest and other well-known products have benefited from the loading speed of the PWA versions of the site.

What not to do:

  • Don’t skimp initially. Think over your future service, how it should work, how will you earn money? And a million other questions. Find a smart analyst even before you decide to do something. Completely test the idea itself. You probably don’t need any mobile app.

  • You can’t skimp on testing. If you are not Sberbank, then one or two bugs in the application – and you have lost the user forever.

  • In-house development is not about economy. Sometimes companies decide to make a mobile application on their own. It seems strange, because to manage even a not the most complex project, the staff should be a project manager, analyst, designer, actually a developer, a testing engineer, almost always a backend developer is needed to integrate an application into the infrastructure, often front-end programmers are also needed. This wasteful decision makes sense when the mobile app becomes the ultimate customer channel. For example, this is exactly what Alfa-Bank does.


Learn more about the course “Product Manager of IT projects”

Watch the webinar “How can a product manager find growth metrics and reduce Unit economics?”


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