Ask the Experts

What’s the difference between a dynamic and a static mobile app?

I have an idea for a mobile application; in looking around for pricing, I see a lot of articles and blog posts that reference a “static” app and a “dynamic” app. What is the difference between the two, and why does a dynamic app cost so much more than a static app?

One is Self-Sufficient, the other relies on Outside Data

Static applications are just that, static. They don’t move. You can basically put them on a Smartphone or tablet and they will fully work without any internet or data connection. Think of these as simple tools, like a calculator or even some simple games, dictionary apps, or any type of app that just displays information and is only updated periodically through iTunes or Google Play Store. These work entirely within the file that is downloaded and installed on your users device.
On the other side of the coin are Dynamic Applications, these applications need to access a server in order to properly function, meaning they need a data connection either through WiFi or your phone’s carrier. Think of these as weather applications, sports apps, many games, in fact, the vast majority of applications are dynamic in some sense. Whether they need to pull down images or videos in order to function properly, or need to access databases to provide real-time information.

So why is there such a large difference in costs?

In a post written by John Rainey about How Much Will my Mobile App Cost to Create? John mentions that a simple static app will cost between $8,000 and $20,000 to create, while dynamic apps average $12,000 to $30,000 and up (per platform) to make. So why the large difference?

A lot has to do with the web services, and needing to connect to a database to pull in information. This provides a new set of challenges for developers to not only access the data, but to also try and pull in that data without “breaking the bank” so to speak on the size of data. Imagine having to pull in images on your phone that are each 5 MB in size, pulling one might not be so bad, but having to do that over and over again can really slow down your app, which provides a lesser user experience. High quality apps want to be fast, provide accurate information, and allow your users to quickly interact with them.

The more times you need to access a remote server, the more planning and set-up is involved, testing, and configuration as well. Though with all of this planning often comes a much better mobile app that provides your users with something they will want to return to over and over again.