Buying Mobile Learning Is A Lot Like Buying A Suit

The Costs of Mobile Learning Depend on Customization Needs

Mobile Apps, Mobile Development, Mobile Strategy Comments (1)

As we’ve written about before, the answer for how much it costs to develop an app or any mobile learning solution is still “it depends.”

Using a suit as a metaphor may help you understand a little better how cost is derived in mobile learning to purchase, and what you can expect at various tiers of mobile learning to buy decisions.

The New York Times ran an article in 2012 titled, “What’s a $4,000 Suit Worth?”, and in the article, they detail the painstaking detail that custom bespoke tailors go through to create their one-of-a-kind masterpieces. The effort and care that the artisan takes are profound, and the price reflects that.

I see many parallels between buying suits off the shelf, made-to-measure suits and bespokes, and their corollaries in the mobile software space.

NPR covered the same topic and produced a handy graphic to help you understand the key differences in the suit tailorings and construction processes.

Ready-made suit

Features of a ready-made suit. Source: NPR

Off the Shelf Made to Measure Bespoke
Cost $99-$1,000 $1,000-$2,000 $5,000+
Overview The output from a template with no customization The output from a template with fitting customization Fully made by hand and custom-made for the buyer by a tailor
Labor 30 minutes 8-12 hours 75 hours
Features Glue-fused fabrics, no customization, cost of materials is approximately $15 Horsehair layer, stitching, cost of materials is approximately $200 Silk stitching, full horsehair layer, higher quality fabrics, cost of materials approximately $600
Where to Buy Men’s Wearhouse, Macy’s or other department stores Brook’s Brothers, MySuit, upscale men’s stores Savile Row tailors, Astor, and Black, other custom tailors


When you apply this thinking to mobile learning design and development, you can easily see where the costs and features/benefits lie.

Off the Shelf Made to Measure Bespoke
Cost Free to under $100 $1,000-$20,000+ $25,000+
Overview Uses pre-built apps or services, free apps, output to a templated player

Output via scalable platform with some customization options

Fully designed and developed to meet specific mobile learning needs and use cases
Implementation Time Instantly 3-4 weeks

2-3 months

Features Non-customizable players, UI, feature sets; little or no IT integration capabilities SSO integration, LMS integration, eLearning conversion, video/media players

Completely customized UI/UX, technology infrastructure, content management process

Where to Buy Online, app stores (Apple, Google Play)

mLearning platform vendors

Custom mLearning designers and developers, software development companies

Each one of these tiers has their own features and benefits, with no tie being “the right one.” Rather, each could be only the right one for you. It’s really up to you to find the option that suits your needs for your learners and organization.

If you’re looking for a mobile learning solution, contact us to let us know how we can suit your needs.

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Chad Udell is the Managing Partner, strategy and new product development, at Float. There he leads his design and development teams to successful outcomes and award-winning work via a strong background in both disciplines and a singular focus on quality. He has worked with industry-leading Fortune 500 companies and government agencies to design and develop experiences for 20 years. Chad is recognized as an expert in mobile design and development, and he speaks regularly at national and international events and conferences on related topics. Chad is author of Learning Everywhere: How Mobile Content Strategies Are Transforming Training and co-editor and chapter author, with Gary Woodill, of Mastering Mobile Learning: Tips and Techniques for Success. His newest book, Shock of the New, co-authored with Gary Woodill was released in April of 2019.

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On April 1, 2014

One Response to Buying Mobile Learning Is A Lot Like Buying A Suit

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