this number just floated by in my twitter stream, but it’s so interesting i need a little more than 140 characters for it. according to alex meisl, speaker on the topic “Why the f*ck create an app” at an event arranged by “mobile squared”, creating a mobile app costs around 50 times as much as creating a mobile webpage.
if you hold that together with tomi ahonen’s estimate that a mobile website can be used by 10-100 times as many people as a mobile app, that would mean that creating a mobile webpage is 500-5000 times as cost effective.
obviously that is an oversimplification of the math, though, especially if one looks at national markets rather than the whole world. but even if we look at norway, where around 10% of all users have an iphone, and even if we assume that most of the users, let’s say around 60-80%, don’t use the mobile web at all, this still means that a mobile webpage can reach 2-4 times as many users while costing 1/50th of an iphone app – in other words, being 100-200 times as cost-efficient.
of course this disregards what many people consider the main point of an app, namely the coolness of it and how having a cool app is great for your brand. probably a valid point, sort of like when big companies boasted about having a webpage in 1994. but just like that fad, the importance of coolness may quickly fade and be replaced by an emphasis on usefulness. and it seems to me that when that happens (actually i think we’re pretty much there already), it’s hard to argue that a mobile app is worth the 100-200 times extra cost.
worth noting also meisl’s point that the cost of developing an app varies wildly – from 12,000 pounds to 200,000. he also claims that if you want to make an cross-platform app, you must more than double the initial budget.
for now, this is based on a couple of tweets, though (although from fairly reliable sources) – if i find better sources i’ll put them up here.