Mobile Application Development: When to Outsource?

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The ubiquity and popularity of smartphones among end-users has increasingly drawn the IT industry’s attention over the last few years, resulting in explosive growth in the mobile application development space. This is in sync with the growing number of mobile users in the world and has led to an increase in demand to provide numerous applications to serve the immense mobile user population. Google Play and the Apple App store alone each have more than one million apps and over 50 billion app downloads – evidence of the growing mobile app demand. 

Mobile Application

Challenges in Mobile App Development 

Many organizations and software development experts have ventured into the field of mobile application development. However, as with any other emerging filed, mobile app developers face some challenges. These challenges include:

  • Users use a variety of mobile devices, and with the rapid development of new devices, this number is continually increasing. This makes seamless development of mobile applications difficult due to device compatibility issues.
  • There are multiple mobile operating systems such as Android, IOS, Windows mobile and Blackberry just to name a few. When organizations or individuals seek to venture into mobile application development, considerations must be made to support more than one of these top operating systems, if not all. Also, due to the lack of automated migration across platforms, application developers have to redesign and implement most of the applications for use on different platforms. This may pose a problem in terms of resources – both financial and human – for small companies seeking to build mobile apps.
  • Utilization of mobile specific APIs that make use of services such as GPS, camera, etc. are different for all mobile operating systems. Therefore, in most cases companies or individuals might have to hire diverse talent for each operating system they want to support. This adds to mobile app development costs.
  • Total data security on mobile devices is elusive since most of the data shared by users is vulnerable. Security flaws in operating systems such as Android and IOS have been discovered in the recent past, casting doubt on data protection provided by the operating systems.
  • Mobile app development is a field that is constantly evolving.  To be in the market, frequent changes need to be made to keep applications up-to-date in accordance with the changes made by operating system providers. This makes mobile app maintenance an expensive undertaking.
  • Also, for mobile apps to be released for end user consumption, they must be submitted to varying publishing processes as defined by the OS providers. The requirements for application submission are different in each application store, making application testing for conformance and consistency a difficult task.

To address the challenges mentioned above over the course of the mobile app development lifecycle, companies or individuals seeking to build mobile apps are faced with the decision on whether to develop in-house or to outsource app development to third parties. There are pros and cons to each approach. In this article, we will address the decision to outsource mobile application development. 

Reasons Leading to Outsourcing 

Many companies with ideas for new applications, especially SMBs, often lack the manpower and/or technical knowledge required to build a mobile app from the ground up. In such a scenario, they vet and hire the best (and most cost effective) mobile developers while remaining within their budgetary limits. These companies do away with factors such as high starting costs to set-up a development team, infrastructure, and fees paid when acquiring licenses for software used in app development and extra charges that could be incurred for consulting development experts when in-house developers encounter difficulties.

Described below are a few of many factors behind the decision to outsource mobile application development:

  • One of the key reasons companies outsource mobile app development is to cut costs.  With in-house development, there are often issues with expertise, often resulting in exceeding development budgets. Add to that higher internal salaries and many companies quickly see the cost benefit of outsourcing app development to third parties. In so doing, companies shield themselves from the risks associated with mismanagement of funds and leave development work to third parties who are experts in handling mobile app development projects.
  • For companies that are new to the market, especially start-ups, the cost required to maintain and train in-house staff is immense and unsustainable.
  • Companies that seek to outsource may be forced to do so as a necessity when they need to focus on their core business operations. This calls for freeing up internal resources for other operational functions, thus creating efficiency in a company. The internal resources that are tied to the outsourced project only serve a supervisory role which leaves other employees free to carry out internal duties.

Organizations undertake outsourcing and offshoring for a variety of reasons, depending on their vision and the ultimate purpose of the application development project. While this may vary from company to company, the advantages of outsourcing, as witnessed by the industry, has made it a core component of any organization’s business strategy to remain competitive and gain maximum advantages from their investment in mobile applications.


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