Why do apps cost so much?
Average software engineers (who earn $95-$120K a year depending on where they live and work) thus cost around $10,000 a month, give or take.
Mobile phone apps are often several months work for an engineer. And many apps require artists and project managers to get them done as well.
My own app company (http://www.perceptdev.com) rarely charges below $10000 even on simple apps because otherwise it’s hard to turn a profit.
It’s always the same sort of overhead – a lot of talk at the beginning to nail down what the customer wants; exploring concepts with client; implementing, testing, deploying. These things like it or not can take months, outside of the actual writing of the software.
For certain categories of application that are sort of well-established (like music promo apps or translations of websites, etc.) there are some template/cookie cutter apps that can launch quicker and more cheaply.
You can save a ton of time by laying out the app completely in Photoshop or some other prototyping tool before you ask for it to be built.
When you go to get software developed, you’re often essentially hiring a general contractor.
You could of course replace your own kitchen sink or bathtub for cheaper at home depot and just hire the plumber to hook up bits you don’t know how to do but you hire a contractor and they arrange things for you and get everything done right. Similarly, with software dev, you need someone who can translate your speak into programmer speak, a programmer to translate it to computer speak, and then someone to make sure everything gets done. Sometimes this is one person. But often times it’s a few.
And then after mark-up (the company that employs the engineers needs a bit) and keeping the doors open etc etc. – it adds up.