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Is An Overseas Team Better Than A U.S. Mobile App Developer?

With more companies looking to quickly develop mobile applications to actively engage their customers, those that lack serious capital are looking at overseas development as a way to save money, but outside of the dollar amount, is an overseas team better than a U.S. mobile app developer?

If the question was based only on the upfront costs then it would be hard to not want to go with an overseas developer. After all, when looking at countries like India that has numerous able bodied programmers and a much lower hourly wage compared to their counterparts, the money you spend on the basic labor definitely makes overseas appealing.

But of course, there is more to the story. Saving money in the upfront stage might be nice but off-shoring a mobile app can cost significantly more in the long run.

Pros and Cons of Local vs Overseas

Let’s look at some of the important factors and see how things compare:

  • Communication – Communication is always a critical component of any project. One of the biggest difficulties in working with an overseas business is the time difference. Is this something that is insurmountable? No, a 9 or 10 hour time difference can be dealt with especially if the overseas company caters to its clients, however it is most certainly not always convenient or timely. Even if there are local account representatives there can be communication delays, disconnects and issues over how your needs will be met which for time-sensitive projects can be a big problem. Winner – US mobile app developer.
  • Hourly Rate – People in the U.S. simply cannot compete with what overseas providers charge. Due to a lower cost of living, rate of conversion and typically earning ability in some countries it is obvious that in some arenas the overseas workforce has an advantage in the prices they can charge. However, unless that company also has a great portfolio and numerous references in the U.S. there has to be a degree of concern over the quality you are getting at the price, much as if you hire someone new to the business or straight out of college. Winner – overseas app developer.
  • Cultural Differences – One of the primary reasons that people stick with a U.S. based developer, or for other services, is due to cultural differences and the lack of understanding of the user base. A perfect example is hiring a writer from another country. While they might have a perfect grasp of English, that does not mean they understand U.S. phrasing and slang which can create a problem with the final product. The same goes in app development where understanding the target audience is of huge importance along with the nuances of a great UX. Winner – US mobile app developer.
  • Access to Technology – To develop apps that take advantage of the most current technology you need to have access to the most current technology. In some cases the overseas market simply does not have the same access to the latest smartphones, tablets and wearable tech that we do in the U.S. which can create issues in development and testing. Winner – US mobile app developer.
  • Legal Concerns – There have been cases where an overseas developer has ignored what is considered a standard Non-Disclosure Agreement because they are located in another country and are not concerned with U.S. laws. This can lead to an app concept being stolen and brought to market by the developer as their own product. In the U.S you have recourse for a breached NDA. Winner – US mobile app developer.
  • Technical Skills – While some overseas developers have just as much skill as their U.S. counterparts, this is not always the case. Of course that can be said when comparing local firms as well. The key point is to be very careful who you hire, either foreign or domestically, that they can deliver on what they promise which should be a well-written, fast app that is the right type that meets the standards of a particular platform. Often a good firm can point to a rich history of development with a team of staff members that have worked together successfully for years rather than a new group that have not completed a successful project together. Winner – push.

The bottom line is that you need to be careful when hiring a mobile app developer. There are unscrupulous people overseas and locally who will submit a low, up-front estimate just to win your business and will then submit change requests that increase the original cost over time; it is just more noticeable locally due to the hourly rate most developers charge.

As to the question of if an overseas team is better than a U.S. mobile app developer, based on the pros and cons the U.S. mobile app developer seems to be a safer, smarter choice especially when you consider the typical amount of value you get from a competent, experienced developer with a proven track record of success.



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