Last Updated: March 21, 2024
Software Development Vs Application Development
Published On: January 08, 2024

Blog Summary: This blog is a short breakdown of the basics of software development and application development. While both are essential for enhancing customer satisfaction and experiences, selecting between the two needs an adequate knowledge of the factors that set them apart. At the end of the blog, you’ll be able to figure out which would suit best your business needs.

Not long ago, the available software services were not strategic and were insufficient for surviving in the competitive landscape. Fast forward to a few years after the pandemic, business automation and connected platforms are the new drivers for enhanced customer experiences.

With customer experience as the driving force, building custom software and apps for enterprises and startups has also become a necessity. Till 2030, the global market of custom software development is projected to grow at a CAGR of 22.3%.

Yet, software development vs application development remains an uphill battle for many organizations due to cost and budget restraints. In this blog, we’ll discover how software and app development differ from each other and which of them better suits your business.

What is Application Development?

App Development

Application development is a process of building software with a set of computer programs. The main point to consider here is that an app is only built for a smartphone to perform a specific business task.

An excellent example of application development is Amazon. As one of the top apps in the market, Amazon was initially a website for selling books online. They launched the app to bring efficiency to that specific business task of online selling and ventured into other products.

What is Software Development?

Software Development

Software development involves designing, programming, documenting, testing, and bug fixing. These steps are vital for creating and maintaining applications, frameworks, and other components. It involves understanding user requirements to deploy and maintain software solutions.

The software development lifecycle plays a pivotal role in technological innovation, enabling the creation of diverse applications and systems that address various needs across industries. It involves collaboration among developers, designers, and stakeholders to deliver functional and efficient software solutions.

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Software Development vs Application Development

Software development is a broad lifecycle of developing various types of software, including applications. Application development specifically focuses on designing and building software applications tailored for specific use cases, platforms, or devices, emphasizing user-centric functionalities.

Both processes involve coding, testing, and deployment, contributing to technological innovation and problem-solving.

Here’s how they differ:

1. Platform and Target Audience

Software development encompasses a wide range of applications for diverse platforms, including desktops, servers, and embedded systems.

In contrast, application development specifically tailors software for targeted platforms such as mobile devices or web browsers. Target audience considerations in application development are crucial to meet the specific needs of users on those platforms.

2. User Experience and Design

The frameworks used for software development create functional solutions across various apps to reduce development costs and time. In application development, the focus is on providing a seamless and intuitive user experience tailored to the specific functionalities of the application.

Design plays a pivotal role in applications, ensuring an optimal and user-friendly interface for the targeted audience.

3. Operating Systems and Ecosystems

Software development is versatile, spanning multiple operating systems and ecosystems. Application development, however, is often designed for a specific operating system or ecosystem, like iOS or Android.

This specialization enables developers to leverage platform-specific features, enhancing the user experience within that ecosystem.

4. Programming Languages and Tools

Software development tools utilize programming languages based on the project’s requirements. In application development, the choice of programming languages and tools is often influenced by the targeted platform or operating system.

Developers may use platform-specific languages and tools for optimal integration and performance.

5. Distribution and Deployment

Software development involves various distribution methods, from physical media to online downloads. Application development, particularly for mobile or web platforms, focuses on streamlined distribution through app stores or web deployment.

This targeted approach simplifies user access and ensures a controlled deployment environment.

6. Performance Optimization

Software development considers performance but often in a broader context. In application development, especially for mobile or resource-constrained platforms, performance optimization is a critical focus.

Developers aim to create efficient and responsive applications, utilizing platform-specific optimization techniques for speed and resource efficiency.

7. Testing and Quality Assurance

Both software development and app development involve rigorous testing and quality assurance. However, application development places heightened emphasis on platform-specific testing, ensuring compatibility and optimal performance within the target environment.

Comprehensive testing methodologies are employed to maintain high-quality standards in both domains.

8. Updates and Maintenance

Software development projects may involve periodic updates, but application development often requires more frequent updates due to platform changes, security patches, or feature enhancements.

Continuous maintenance is crucial in application development for evolving user needs and platform updates for long-term viability within the targeted ecosystem.

9. Why is Mobile App Development Important?

Mobile app development is essential for businesses because it gives them an opportunity to increase their reach to a wide range of users through any type of platform. Building an organic relationship with the customers forms the foundation of a successful mobile app.

Since mobile apps connect with software development and enable users to have full access to processes, services, and products in real-time, businesses can provide more personalized experiences.

10. Why is Software Development Important?

The rising consumer demands make it highly essential for businesses to invest in solutions for software development and app development. Serving up innovative solutions becomes paramount to survive in a competitive landscape.

The biggest reason for the importance of software development is managing data more efficiently. It becomes much easier to have control over business intelligence when you have software in place that provides granular insights into user intent.

With a single connected ecosystem that drives informed decision-making, organizations get access to real-time and generate better sales revenue streams.

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Benefits of Mobile App Development vs Software Development

Mobile apps contain a wide range of features that enhance the user experience. When developing an app, your organization needs to be careful about which features you need to develop. Similarly, business software streamlines the operations, processes, and functions that are crucial for the success and growth of an organization.

Here’s a detailed explanation of benefits for each of them:

1. Enhanced Mobile User Experience

Software development can greatly enhance customer experience. Organizations continuously invest in Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) to gain in-depth insights into user behavior and buying patterns.

On the other hand, a mobile app provides an additional channel to improve customer engagement. An app enables them to access products and services, receive regular updates, and provide feedback.

2. Access to Mobile Device Features

Software development often involves creating large-scale projects, including complex systems, databases, and algorithms to serve different functions in an organization. In contrast, mobile app development is for different platforms like iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, etc.

While software development benefits in streamlining workflows and automating processes, a mobile app provides a direct marketing channel to increase user engagement through various features.

3. Direct App Store Distribution

By leveraging centralized platforms like the App Store or Google Play, developers enhance visibility, credibility, and user trust. It simplifies app deployment and ensures a seamless user experience by facilitating easy updates, contributing to broader user reach and increased app discoverability.

Software development accelerates user acquisition and provides a secure channel for downloading and updating applications. It ensures efficient accessibility and a controlled environment for users to access and manage their apps.

4. Targeted Marketing and Engagement

An app provides targeted marketing through feedback forms, surveys, and customer support., leading to a better understanding of customer needs.

Besides, it focuses on retaining customers and drives efforts towards encouraging them to use the app for longer times. It helps build online sales and brand visibility with customer engagement.

In contrast, software development focuses on building efficiency and employee productivity by making it easy to use on any hardware. 

5. Seamless Updates and User Retention

App development ensures seamless updates and efficient bug fixes, feature enhancements, and security patches. Regular updates are important for addressing evolving user needs, introducing new features, and maintaining app compatibility.

It encourages users to stay engaged with the application for the long term, thus enhancing overall user satisfaction.

Software development is an iterative process where users are more likely to stay engaged with software that receives consistent updates, creating a positive cycle of improvement and sustained user retention.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Software Development and Application Development

When choosing between software development and application development, consider factors like project scope, target audience, and platform requirements. Assess whether a comprehensive software solution or a specialized application aligns with your goals.

Evaluate factors such as scalability, development complexity, and the specific needs of your users to make an informed decision.

1. Project Scope and Purpose

When choosing between software and application development, consider the project scope and purpose. Software development suits broad and complex projects, addressing diverse functionalities. Application development is ideal for focused projects tailored to specific platforms, providing targeted solutions. Align the choice with the project’s scale, objectives, and intended user experience.

2. Target Platform and Audience

Consider the target platform and audience when choosing between software and application development. Software development caters to diverse platforms, while application development focuses on specific platforms like mobile devices.

Align your choice with the intended audience, ensuring the software or app meets their needs within the selected platform’s ecosystem.

3. Development Time and Resources

When deciding between software and application development, evaluate development time and resources. Software development may require more time and resources for extensive functionalities, whereas application development is often quicker and resource-efficient, especially for platform-specific solutions.

Choose based on the project’s urgency, scale, and the resources available for timely delivery.

4. Functionality and Features

Consider the required functionality and features when deciding between software and application development. Software development caters to comprehensive functionalities across various domains.

Application development, with a more focused scope, is suitable for projects requiring specific features tailored to targeted user needs, ensuring a more efficient and purpose-driven solution.

5. Maintenance and Updates

When choosing between software and application development, factor in maintenance and updates. Software development may require less frequent updates but demands comprehensive maintenance.

Application development often involves more regular updates due to evolving platforms and user expectations, necessitating continuous maintenance for optimal performance, security, and user satisfaction.


Software development and app development are amidst their peak transformation phases. Both are moving from being tech-focused to a problem-solving mindset to deliver apps and products at higher velocity, scalability, and customer satisfaction.

At Moon Technolabs, our developers are highly experienced and skilled in building business applications at a 35% reduced development cost. We ensure that our business process knowledge is specific to your pain points and apply a mix and match of services to achieve ideal outcomes.


The cost of software development depends on factors such as project complexity, features, and technology requirements. If you’re looking to build a small-scale project, it may have lower costs, while large, intricate projects may incur higher expenses. We develop software that you can easily integrate into your CRM and ERP and assist you in developing a suitable product for your needs.

A simple native app would cost you from USD 10,000 to USD 40,000. On the other hand, a complex app would cost around USD 50,000 - USD 3,00,000. To receive an accurate cost estimate, you can connect with our expert developers, who can provide a detailed project scope and specifications. We assess the resources and efforts required for the development process.

Yes, a software developer can build a mobile app. However, mobile app developers need expertise in iOS or Android and familiarity with mobile frameworks. They may also need to acquire additional skills in mobile development to ensure optimal performance and adherence to platform guidelines. Specialized knowledge in app design and user experience is valuable for creating successful mobile applications.

Full-stack software development requires proficiency in developing both front-end and back-end technologies. It includes managing databases, server-side scripting, and creating user interfaces. Full-stack developers possess a comprehensive skill set, allowing them to contribute to all aspects of a software project, ensuring a holistic approach to development.
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Jayanti Katariya

Jayanti Katariya is the CEO of Moon Technolabs, a fast-growing IT solutions provider, with 18+ years of experience in the industry. Passionate about developing creative apps from a young age, he pursued an engineering degree to further this interest. Under his leadership, Moon Technolabs has helped numerous brands establish their online presence and he has also launched an invoicing software that assists businesses to streamline their financial operations.

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