Budget for Mobile App Development in Your Proposals!

Budget for Mobile App Development in Your Proposals!

Mar 24, 2014
Stock photo of mobile app icons

Mobile device usage and as a result, mobile app usage, has exploded over the last few years with thousands of new apps and billions of downloads.  Universities are just beginning to participate in the mobile space: very few institutions have designated funding sources for research-focused or research-derived mobile app development programs.  At the same time, funding agencies are becoming more concerned with how the results or the technical advancement of a particular project will be shared with the public.  A mobile app is a great way to quickly and effectively reach a wide and still-growing audience. 

At an institutional level, UNH has released one mobile app at this time, a Mobile Application Suite jointly developed by members of Information Technology and New & Emerging Media.  UNH’s app is available on both iTunes and Android platforms and contains features including bus schedules, dining hall menus, campus maps, and many others.  I have been surveying a number of higher education institutions around the country and found that this type of general and broad-reaching campus app is where most development teams stop.  It’s not from a lack of interest, new ideas, or talent, but rather, developing a mobile app is expensive. 

Mobile app development costs can reach into the thousands (for very simple apps) to even hundreds of thousands of dollars.  While these numbers are highly variable and can range lower or higher depending on many factors, the idea that developing a mobile app must be cheap because it is smaller or somehow less complex than a website is not correct. 

From my survey, it appears that researchers are more frequently thinking about using mobile apps to share their research results. These individuals may reach out to their campus’s technology transfer office or development groups after a project is completed to inquire about mobile app development and are, unfortunately, turned away due to a lack of resources. 

We have examples of this at UNH as well, and so I wanted to share one of the most critical findings that I learned during my survey. Namely, that we, the UNH family of researchers, need to:  

Be proactive and put mobile app development costs as a line item in project proposal budgets.

We have seen success stories from using this approach, and it is a great way to have funds committed before a project even unfolds. It is very clear that UNH has the talent to create innovative and dynamic mobile apps.  We also have a great opportunity to be a leader when it comes to disseminating research results, tools, and new technologies through mobile apps.  Let’s jump in the driver’s seat before we’re forced to clamor onto tomorrow’s bandwagon.              

If you have questions or concerns surrounding mobile apps in the research space or are generally curious about releasing apps through UNH (iTunes or Android) please contact me at Tristan.carrier@unh.edu or (603)-862-2022. 


Photo Credit: Flickr/Cristiano Betta

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