I Want to Develop an App Like Snapchat. What Do I Need to Know?

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OK, so you want to make an iOS app, but not just any app – you want an app just as successful as Snapchat. But what’s involved in launching an app like that? If you think that you can make an app that has an innovative and cool idea behind it succeed, you’re wrong. Most of the times it’s not enough to make an app kick, although sometimes even indie developers get a stroke of luck. So, let’s have a look at what’s involved in making the next Snapchat: the cost, the process and the OS.

How much and how long will it take?

This is the first question an app developer usually gets from a potential client. While it is an obvious question, it’s usually very difficult to answer especially where innovation is concerned. At the initial stage, the developer can’t always estimate the challenges and hiccups that will occur (and they will). So the first estimate is literally an estimate, nothing more.

App development cost is determined by three main factors that are linked together. They are:

1. the amount of work to be done
2. the time needed to give you the result you want
3. your budget

The developer and the client need to discuss all these in detail because the developer needs to understand exactly what the client wants and provide an estimate that is as accurate as possible.

If you have a fixed budget, that makes it easier for the developer to start discussing your project. This is a point from which we can move forward and give you a plan of what you can expect for your money and how many hours of work your project might take.

So what about Snapchat? How much will it cost to make an app like that?

First of all, you need to understand why you want to create an app like Snapchat. If you think mobile app development is a way to get rich quickly and that’s your sole purpose, then most likely you won’t achieve your goal. Yes, app success stories seem amazingly smooth and simple at first glance. But the reality is different. Having a great idea for an app is not enough to turn it into a billion-dollar business like Snapchat. Or at least not always enough.

The first step you should take is come up with an idea of not just an app, but for a complete product. Just like any other product, an app needs a solid business model. You need to have a clear idea of what value your product will give to the customers and how it will make money. You also need to think of how you will promote your app and make it discoverable because dumping it to the App Store is not enough. And you need to remember that app development cost doesn’t end with the first version of your app – you need to keep it updated, you need a backend server, you need to provide customer support, and you need to keep marketing it. Basically, you need to understand that an app is an ongoing project and a long-term investment.

Let’s look at how Snapchat, an app recently valued close to $19 billion, did it. First of all, the idea behind Snapchat came to a product design major at Stanford University. So it wasn’t just an odd idea from someone completely unrelated to design and marketing. Plus he knew people with the right tech expertise. But even then most were sceptical of the idea of non-permanent photo and video messages.

When Spiegel and Murphy launched Snapchat in 2011 (under the name Picaboo), the main focus of the app was usability combined with other tech aspects. The developers did next to no marketing. Actually, the idea did its own marketing because an app where you could send photos and videos freely without worrying about them being discovered by someone else was very appealing to a very wide audience, especially teenagers. The story goes that Spiegel’s mother told a cousin about the app. In turn, the cousin showed the app to his friends at high school in Southern California and the app began spreading like wildfire. By November 2012 Snapchat iOS users were sharing 20 million photos per day.

So what about the funding? Even though Snapchat was an indie project at first, the developers didn’t overlook the fact that the project needed money to develop. So, after its release for Android in November 2012, Snapchat raised $485,000 in a seed funding round and got bridge funding from Lightspeed Ventures. Snapchat didn’t stop there and in June 2013 the app raised $60 million in a funding round led by Institutional Venture Partners. And the funding story doesn’t end there.

As you can see, even if you have a killer idea and your app takes off, you’ll need a lot more funding than you initially think to keep things going.

Can I launch for iOS, Android and Windows at the same time?

Sure you can. But we don’t really recommend it because releasing for all these platforms at the same time means a tripled amount of bug fixing and other tech stuff. Just like Snapshot launched for iOS first, we recommend you to do the same thing. If you are serious about app development, you really should go for a native app. iOS or Android depends on your target audience and many other factors.

Can I use the designs I already have?

That is a possibility, but we don’t usually recommend it. You bringing all the designs means that you think you already know what should be built and how. That’s a dangerous approach. The process of designing an app involves all parties – the designer, the developers, the usability experts, and even the test users. That’s why it’s best when the developers have a say in the design process of your app.

Launching a mobile app is a complicated process with several factors determining the app’s success. Here at Fan Studio Mobile App and Game Development, we can help you polish your idea and turn it into a killer app.

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