White label mobile app vs. custom app development

app development
(© ra2 studio – stock.adobe.com)

As a business owner, you must be aware of how important it is to stay in the game by adapting to modern technological leaps. Whenever an organization’s stakeholders are thinking to convert a new business idea into a software system or app, they may be faced with the decision of choosing between a white label app and a custom solution.

Today we will talk about what a white label mobile app is, how it can help your business, and whether or not it is better than going for custom software development.

What Is a white label mobile app?

Just like any other app that you might use in your everyday life, a white label mobile app runs on your mobile device. It can be built for Android, iOS, or any other operating system. It can also take the form of a hybrid or cross-platform app that runs on two or more OSs.

One important factor that differentiates white label software from custom software is the fact that the former is built by a third party and offered to multiple businesses who are then allowed to rebrand it and present or sell it to their customers under their own name instead of the developers’. Several businesses could be using the same application but under different names. However, none of them would actually own the source code for the app. Custom apps, on the other hand, are built specifically for you and no other party. A custom-built app will be owned solely by you.

Sometimes, apps can be a combination of custom and white label. In simple words, this means that a company can commission a white label software development company to create a custom solution that the client company can then further license to its customers. Suppose you want to set up a business that sells online shopping platform subscriptions to online stores. For that, you will have to find a software developer who can build a base app for you. In this case, you will be the owner of the white label app. You can then charge your clients a licensing fee if they want to use your app for their e-commerce activities by launching their individual online stores. Thus, you will have built a custom white label app that you own the code for, and that resellers can purchase from you.

Types of white label apps

There are many different types of white label apps and software solutions available in the market these days. Here are a few examples of white label products, most of which are offered as SaaS (software-as-a-service) applications.

  • White label website builders
  • White label project management software
  • White label email marketing tools
  • White label SEO tools
  • White label data management and reporting tools
  • White label financial accounting software
  • White label e-commerce apps

White label solutions vs. custom app development

When you consider the two options for a business app – white label and custom app – side-by-side, you will see a stark contrast between the two. Let’s talk about the three most important differences between white label software development and bespoke software development.

1. Costs

The monetary aspect is often the deciding factor for both businesses and individuals whenever they need to make a choice.

Custom software is expensive. Hiring a third party to create a software application especially for you requires a major chunk of time and money. It is a lengthy process and you need to budget strictly and smartly if you want to get the best results. You might have to stay involved throughout the development process, providing constant feedback after continuous supervision. However, this is all a one-time investment and once the development process is complete, the software product is yours to own forever. Regular maintenance and upgrades don’t cost a lot and are much easier to conduct when you own the software. So you can think of a custom app as an asset.

When it comes to white label software, the costs can be quite affordable. There are plenty of providers in the market for all kinds of products and services, always competing against one another to give the customer – you – the best prices. For nominal license fees, you can start using a white label solution almost immediately with no capital. However, this regular fee system can slowly and gradually add up to a large sum that you would end up paying for software that is not even yours. Thus, you need to choose a pricing plan that is sustainable in the long run.

2. Customization

The customization and personalization aspect of any new web or mobile app can be tricky, which is why you need to carefully consider the following pros and cons.

With a custom-developed app, you have the freedom to do as you please. Since you are the owner of the software product, you can ask your design and development team to include any features or incorporate any kind of aesthetics you wish to see in your app. Of course, they would have to be practical and achievable features and functionalities; even the best developers cannot deliver results that go beyond a) the realm of reality or b) the monetary scope of your project. On top of that, the process of custom development might take anywhere from a few weeks to many, many months.

A white label mobile app would also typically offer some level of customization. Most white label applications allow you to modify the app according to your branding and usage requirements. Sometimes, the provider will give you the option to only pay for what you use. If there are certain features you do not need in your app, you can simply opt out of and not pay for them. The customization process is also much quicker because, usually, the changes happen on the surface level only, and not at the backend. In essence, the base functionality remains the same but the outlook can be changed according to different brand identities or audiences. Thus, if you want a quick software solution for your business, white label apps would be the way to go. There is one downside though. Such apps are sometimes not designed with a user-first approach, which might pose a problem to audiences that are not tech-savvy.

3. Maintenance and upgrades

Custom software developers often offer post-launch support and maintenance packages to their clients for a lump sum. As the owner of the app, it would be completely your choice to (not) update your app. This choice can quickly turn into a responsibility though. If your app handles sensitive information or needs to be secure at all times, you would be responsible for ensuring that it complies with the latest security standards. If you need to add advanced features to your app in the future, you may be forced to hire a developer again; this means you will need to put in more hours (and dollars!).

Those who undertake white label app development would have to face the same pros and cons that those choosing custom software would. However, if you are the licensee of a white label product, you will be at the mercy of the developers – they are the ones who would get to decide whether they want to continue improving the product that they are offering. If one day, they decide that they want to discontinue their white label offering or cannot afford to perform any feature or security updates on the app, you and your business will be doomed. Thus, licensing a white label app can be risky. To save yourself from this kind of disaster, you can always be thorough with your research and go for a white label provider that is experienced and widely trusted. With a reliable provider, you can quickly request minor feature updates too, for a minimal additional fee.


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