When it comes down to choosing the right app agency to turn to, we know what we're talking about. Savvy Apps has been in the industry since 2009, just around when apps could start being built. During that time we've had the privilege of watching other app agencies grow into their own along with us.
There are a number of companies that we respect as peers. For some of them, we have even chatted with their founders, sharing ideas and industry experiences. Like us, many of these companies started creating apps back in the beginning of the app stores. Not everyone will end up working with Savvy Apps, whether it's due to timing, our capacity, or there not being a mutual good fit. Since we're often asked for referrals, here, in no particular order, are our picks for the top 10 app design and development companies to consider when starting your own app.
Bottle Rocket is known for being one of the first big app agencies. Acquired by WPP in 2013, they now work beyond mobile, including gaming and publishing.
Size: Extra Large
Notable Clients: NBC Universal, American Express, Coca-Cola, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, PetSmart, Mary Kay
Website: Bottle Rocket
MartianCraft was started by a couple of well-known people who worked in the Apple ecosystem for decades. They're an entirely virtual company. They work mostly with larger companies and brands while also offering a number of apps made in-house.
Location: Completely virtual
Notable Clients: Apple, IBM, NASA, Associated Press, TED, Organizing for Action (Barack Obama campaign), Fox
Black Pixel is another well-known app agency to those in the Apple community. While headquartered in Seattle, they employ remote workers as well and work mostly with bigger companies and brands.
Notable Clients: The New York Times, Inspirato, ESPN, Starbucks, Baltimore Ravens, Barnes and Noble
Website: Black Pixel
Once known primarily for their designs, SFCD eventually grew into a full-service firm. They consider themselves a “boutique” agency that specializes in, among other disciplines, product strategy and brand identity. Their employees work from offices in multiple locations.
Locations: New York, San Francisco, St. Petersburg in Russia
Notable Clients: Sony, Tipster, Uber, Samsung, T-Mobile, Toyota, and Merck
We consider WillowTree to be one of our friends down the road since they are located in Virginia as well. They have expanded to two locations in the Southeast. They take advantage of their proximity to universities in particular as part of their recruiting strategy. They mostly work with larger, established brands.
Location: Charlottesville, Va. and Durham, NC
Notable Clients: General Electric, TimeWarner, PepsiCo, Fox News, Regal Entertainment, Aol, United Healthcare
Fueled is an app agency in New York, where the competition is stiff. They are active in the startup community and do more startup work compared to the others in this list. They even offer a co-working space for startup companies in need of a physical location.
Location: New York
Notable Clients: Namely, Apple, HBO, Google, Verizon, Summit, QuizUp, Hallmark, VanityFair, AfterLight
Raizlabs is also active in the startup community. They offer an incubator to help companies with their mobile endeavors and host events for startups in particular. We also know Greg Raiz from presenting at 360iDev.
Location: Boston, San Francisco
Notable Clients: Six Flags, B&H, Virgin Pulse, Bloomingdales, Macy's, HubSpot, Localytics
Mercury Intermedia was founded before Apple introduced the App Store in 2008 but became active in apps from the outset. Like many of the others on this list, they mostly work with brand businesses. We know Rusty Mitchell, their VP of Design, from the local community including speaking at similar events.
Notable Clients: Comcast, Panasonic, TED, Univision, The Washington Post, Showtime, USA Today, Smithsonian Channel
Website: Mercury Intermedia
Big Nerd Ranch
Big Nerd Ranch is known for their training. They host bootcamps and publish development teaching guides for individuals as well as corporations. Since their founding, they've grown to offer app creation services for mostly brand-name businesses, especially those who took advantage of their training services.
Notable Clients: Google, Facebook, GE, Manheim, Spotify, Airbnb, AT&T, NASA
Website: Big Nerd Ranch
Ustwo invests a lot into their own products and it shows. Their mobile game, Monument Valley, for example, won an Apple iPad Game of the Year in 2014 and was an Apple Design Award winner that same year. It's still one of the top paid apps in the App Store. While not commercially successful, one of our favorite games back in the day was ustwo's Whale Trail. In the past we chatted with their founder John “Mills” Miller about various app-related topics.
Size: Extra Large
Location: London, New York
Notable Clients: Google, Sky, Ford, Adidas, DeepMind, Dice, Moodnotes, PAUSE
There are many considerations that go into choosing the right app agency for your project. Check out our articles on when contracting an app makes sense, how to hire a mobile app developer, or how to build your own app team. Drop us a line if you have any lingering questions about selecting the app agency that's right for you.
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