How long do you think it would take to go from concept to store submission for a native iOS or Android app? Include everything from spinning up servers, to managing users, to integrating with social networks, to developing a protocol for versioning, to wireframing, designing and polishing your UX.
While the question isn’t as timeless as “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?” (spoiler alert: 3481), it is one that’s very dear to our community of mobile app developers. The duration obviously varies with the complexities and increased functionality of the application to be developed.
Kinvey - a mobile Backend as a Service startup - put this question to 100 mobile developers (43% enterprise, 57% individual). Based on this survey, they came up with an answer: about 18 weeks, the same amount of time that it takes to build 1.3 Boeing 777 airplanes and to drill 3 3,000 foot oil wells.
This infographic depicts how much time developers will spend on each component of their native apps front - and backend. Check it out...
Joe Chernov, VP of Marketing at Kinvey says:
"Backend functions accounted for 10 weeks, with data storage, data integration and versioning accounting for the biggest blocks of time (13 days each). The UI represented the bulk of the eight weeks of frontend development. On average, developers felt it would take about 40 days to wireframe, design, develop and polish their app’s user interface."
"73% of developers surveyed agree it would take a week or less to enable offline usage and data synchronization, yet a core backend feature like integrating data from third-party APIs yielded a wider range of responses. In fact, nearly as many developers (25) anticipated data integration would take a month or more as those (29) who said it would take three days or fewer."
Many of the aspects listed, especially the back-end aspects and 3rd party data integration, are of course not unique to a particular mobile platform or even to mobile platforms in general. So the 18 weeks would only apply if you had no previous targeted infrastructure across all these areas.
While the above infographic doesn’t purport to be the definitive timeline for app building - after all, it’s based on the development of an MVP-quality app and it doesn’t take into account the approval process - it was intended to be a conversation starter. So to that end, how long do you think it would take to build v1 of a native app? And do you think time requirements frontend items are easier to plan than backend components?