How Much Does It Cost To Maintain an App?

November 17, 2023
November 17, 2023

An average mobile game can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $600,000 to develop, and some AAA titles cost millions to produce. Is it any wonder that launch day is a day of celebration for many app makers? However, the expenses don’t end when the app launches. Keeping your app running also comes with a price tag. How much does it cost to maintain an app?

Key Takeaways:

  • Ongoing app maintenance is necessary to prevent issues that can lead to churn and improve the user experience. The increase in return on investment and decrease in user acquisition costs offset this ongoing expense.
  • Multiple factors impact the cost of maintenance, including hosting services, analytics, third-party services, bug fixes, improvements, marketing, and customer support costs.
  • You can estimate your maintenance costs by using the industry standard formula of 50% of initial development costs for the first year and 15-20% per year for the remaining years. However, this is just a baseline. Your actual costs may vary depending on whether you implement any major updates, how complex your app is, the technology you are using, and the size of your development team.

How Much Does It Cost To Maintain an App?

Apps need maintenance throughout their lifecycle to fix and prevent bugs, address security concerns, and keep up with changing user preferences. Several factors impact the ongoing cost of app maintenance.

 Illustration of the types of mobile app maintenance

Hosting Services

Most apps require a web-based backend to handle data storage and user accounts. App developers pay for web hosting to support this backend on a monthly or annual recurring basis. The price of hosting services varies depending on how much space, processing power, and memory you need and the specific services provided by the host. In addition to paying for the hosting service, you need to generate and install certificates every year.

App Analytics

Over the lifecycle of your app, you will add or change features, add and remove in-app purchases, make decisions about ads, and produce new content. Analytics helps you assess how well your app is meeting your goals and what you can do to improve.

There are many free tools you can use for various types of analytics. However, you will probably want to use some paid tools. Even if you rely on free tools, the salary or cost of third-party services required to utilize those tools will impact how much it costs to maintain your app.

Third-Party Services

It isn’t practical for app developers to provide all of the services their apps need in-house. This means you must pay for third-party services to handle functions such as instant messaging, content management, payment processing, and maps. You may also need to buy server space.

You may be able to obtain some of these services for free or at a low cost when you start, but as you add more users, the providers may charge higher fees. Additionally, there is a yearly subscription fee for listing your app on the Google Play and iOS store.

Finding and Fixing Bugs and Glitches

Even if you release a bug-free app on launch day, hosting upgrades, OS updates, server updates, device changes, and other issues can introduce bugs and glitches that you must fix quickly to avoid losing users. This process can be labor intensive or require you to hire outside help, so it is important to budget accordingly.


Marketing is how you continue to attract new players and encourage existing players to spend more money. Marketing expenses will continue to impact how much it costs to maintain your app for as long as you need to attract new users or sell new products to existing users.

Improving the User Experience

Without regular updates to the features and content of your app, your app will die. Additionally, you must budget for liveops and pay someone to monitor and respond to user feedback.

Technical and Customer Support

You will need either an in-house or an outsourced team to handle technical issues customers experience and help customers with purchases and other customer service issues. Excellent customer support improves retention and is a valuable source of customer feedback.

How Can You Estimate the Cost of Maintaining Your App?

The industry standard is to budget about 50% of the original development cost of your app for maintenance in the first year and an additional 15-20% of the original development cost for each year after that. However, your specific needs may vary. If you make any major upgrades or additions, expect to spend up to 50% of your original development cost per year to maintain them.

Maintenance Cost Breakdown

Maintenance costs vary depending on how frequently you update your app, the technology stack you use, the complexity of your app, and the size of your development team. A typical app developer can expect to spend:

  • $70-$320 per month for hosting
  • $50-$2,000 per fix to correct bugs and glitches
  • $9,000 per year for third-party services
  • $10,000 per year for IT support
  • $150 per month for payment gateways

Additionally, budget about $35-$50 per hour for technical intervention.

Why Is It Important To Maintain Your App?

Most apps rely on users making many small purchases over time to generate revenue. The longer you can get users to keep using your app, the more money you stand to make. While there is an ongoing cost to maintain an app, the improvement you will see in your return on investment and reduction in user acquisition costs makes it worthwhile.

Without maintenance, the user experience will tend to worsen over time, resulting in churn and poor reviews that may make attracting new users difficult. You will also need to make changes to your app to keep users interested and keep up with the competition.

Ongoing maintenance helps shorten downtime, which improves retention. It also reduces the risk of security breaches because the older your app is, the more likely hackers are to find and exploit bugs or security flaws if you aren’t constantly looking for and patching them.

Illustration of the top reasons to maintain a mobile app

How Can You Save Money on App Maintenance Costs?

Now that you have an idea of how much it costs to maintain an app, you are probably interested in finding ways to save money. Sonamine is a one-stop shop for data analysis, messaging, reports, tweaks, liveops, UX redesign, and other services that will help keep your app healthy and turning a profit. Contact us today to get started.

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