How Much Does It Cost To Develop A Chat App Like WhatsApp?

Prateek Saxena September 26, 2022
How Much Does It Cost To Develop A Chat App Like WhatsApp

It was the year 1990 when the concept of instant messaging first hit the mainstream of the world. Fast forwarding 20 years, the year was 2009 when the impossible happened. A former Yahoo employee and his partner started working on an application that became a revolution in instant messaging. The name was – WhatsApp, named to sound like ‘What’s up?’

WhatsApp is the brainchild of two friends – Brian Acton and Jan Koum. In August 2009, with the release of WhatsApp 2.0, the number of active users suddenly spiked to 250,000 and it was then that WhatsApp had its first taste of success. It had discovered the nuances of getting viral.

According to recent studies, WhatsApp has now crossed the mark of 2 billion in the terms of monthly active users (MAU) and is one of the most successful instant messaging apps ever.

But, what is the cost of development for such a successful messaging app like WhatsApp? Let’s find out in this article. Also, let’s have a look at the various factors that affect the cost of a chat app like WhatsApp and the different features that contributed to WhatsApp’s success. 

Timeline of WhatsApp

Before talking about the WhatsApp development cost, let’s have a quick look at the timeline of the app and various turning points that contribute to its success.

Whatsapp Timeline

The above figure exhibits the evolution of WhatsApp from its launch till the time it was acquired by Meta. Here a few WhatsApp highlights and facts that you must have a look at:

  • WhatsApp was bought by Meta (formerly known as Facebook) in 2014 for $19 billion USD. 
  • After its messenger service and Instagram, WhatsApp is the third most popular property of Meta. 
  • WhatsApp initially used to monetize through a subscription model: $1 during download and $1 going forward after a year. However, Meta eventually removed this fee and made WhatsApp a free app with the objective that users would communicate with businesses (using WhatsApp for business feature) and ultimately businesses would pick up the cost. 
  • Since WhatsApp’s financial statements aren’t public, the app is estimated to monetize through business subscriptions, premium business features and payment gateway. 

WhatsApp Tech Stack

Let us look at how you can build a chat app like WhatsApp by discovering the tech stack responsible for WhatsApp’s success.

Whatsapp Tech Stack

Apart from the technical specification, WhatsApp success stories lie in the fact that after the launch of a basic model with real-time messaging, it went on adding features to the service which made WhatsApp become an indispensable part of an extensive user base worldwide, which are still growing in number. Let us look at all of those features and the development costs associated with each one, as we go.

[Also Read: How Much Does it Cost to Develop a Music Streaming App Like Spotify]

Basic WhatsApp features and the time it takes to develop them

WhatsApp is loved for the various features it entails. Besides being a free messaging application, WhatsApp has been experimenting with breakthrough technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and chatbots

On the other hand, WhatsApp has also tried its hands on offering brand management and enterprise level communication to businesses registered on its app. This acted as a big opportunity for eCommerce businesses looking to establish a positive communication with its customers. Below is a list of features that an app like WhatsApp must carry in order to gain success in today’s demanding arena: 

Basic WhatsApp features

Registration

For registration on WhatsApp, once the user enters his/her credential, i.e., the name, country and phone number, the application sends a message of authorization. In the Android version of the app, WhatsApp reads and submits the verification code automatically. Once the registration is done, the app syncs all the phone book contacts automatically to display the ones available on the WhatsApp messaging platform.

Approximate Development Time :  50-55 hours

Real time messaging – One on one, group chat and broadcast messages

Since you’re willing to build a chat app like WhatsApp, it’s indisputable to incorporate a messaging feature, which can be one on one chat or a multi-user chat. WhatsApp developers use customized XMPP (eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) which enables message delivery.

Also, WhatsApp chat enables Emojis, Stickers and GIF files.

Approximate Development Time : 210-220 hours (Both frontend and backend development)

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Voice calling

WhatsApp’s free calling feature is added to attract more users to it. It uses Internet traffic to call rather than your data plan minutes or your money. WhatsApp uses the PJSIP library to implement Voice over IP (VoIP). This is an open source multimedia communication library written in C. The library uses high-level API by combining the SIP (signaling protocol) with a multimedia framework and NAT traversal functionality.

Approximate Development Time : 200-220 hours (Both frontend and backend development)

Video Calling

Any reliable social media app development company can tell you how important a video calling feature is for any social media or social messaging application today. Every trending application such as Instagram and Snapchat supports the video calling feature, however, Whastapp started the trend since this was an important feature for the field.

Approximate Development time : 180-220 hours (Both frontend and backend development, depending upon Android app development or iOS app development)

Bonus Read- How Much Does Video Conferencing App Development Costs

Multimedia sharing

With WhatsApp, we can also share voice notes, video files and photographs. To create a chat app like WhatsApp, you can add such features too, as multimedia sharing is the part of the basic model of the application. The transmission procedure is performed by uploading a multimedia file to be delivered to the HTTP server (YAWS), then sends a link to the content together with its Base64 encoded thumbnail.

Approximate Development Time : 40-50 Hours

Settings column

The settings part of WhatsApp consists of privacy settings, account settings and profile settings, where users can switch off or on the read receipts, change their profile picture or profile name, manage blocked contacts, delete their accounts, change status, change numbers, customize profile settings like chat notifications, etc.

Approximate Development time : 110-120 hours

Contact sharing

This is a small feature where the users can send and receive contacts from their phone memories directly with each other. It adds on to the convenience of the app. The procedure for contact sharing is identical to the message delivery; the XMPP protocol is also engaged here. Hiring the best mobile app development company takes the load off your shoulder and gives you an application worth your investment in the end.

Approximate Development time : 70-80 hours

Location sharing

The geolocation feature can be integrated into the app to share your current location or the location of any place. Besides this, your live location can also be shared with another person for a designated amount of time. To display maps in your apps, Google Maps Android API is a way for Android developers; the Map Kit framework is offered to iOS developers by Apple.

You should hire a right mobile app development company who knows its way with all the necessities of mobile app development. An expert in-house team of mobile app developers and UI/UX app designers is the best way to go.

Approximate Development Time : 25-30 Hours

Notifications

On WhatsApp, the user is notified about a personal chat message or a group message through mobile app notifications. They can even enable the feature where they receive a chat-on-screen pop-up when the phone is locked. This feature can be incorporated through Google Cloud Messaging or Apple Push Notifications.

Approximate Development time : 15-20 hours

Business profile (WhatsApp for business) 

Users can make a business profile with additional details such as business address, business description, type of product/service they offer etc. in the WhatsApp for business service. With this business feature, online businesses can catalog their products to any user anytime on a condition that the customer has to contact first. 

Another great feature that comes along is the automated reply that helps businesses send out automated greetings to any user that contacts the business account. This feature also supports a “send away message” tool which helps the user send personalized text if the business is unavailable. 

Approximate Development Time- Varies on the type business and service 

Chat labels 

Another helpful feature of a WhatsApp like social media app is chat labels. Businesses can label certain chats and then categorize them accordingly. Chat labels help the businesses categorize and customize according to colors, types of chat, new customer, new order, pending payment etc. 

Approximate development time – depends on the tech stack and tools used

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Steps on how to create an app like WhatsApp 

While planning to build a messaging app like WhatsApp, it’s important to have a blueprint of the entire development process much before you actually start with the development. Below are the general steps to follow when making a WhatsApp clone app: 

  • Choose a relevant business model that aligns well with the idea of your WhatsApp like application. The model must include factors like target audience, monetization process, app value, competitors, app store optimization etc. 
  • Reach an experienced team of developers that can guide you through the process of development. Outsourcing software development teams brings great benefits. There are flexible cooperation modes and the requirements and deadlines are usually met on time with outsourced teams.
  • Consider your development team’s location. 
  • Start with building the app architecture. Get acquainted with WhatsApp’s core architecture and learn what runs in the background. Moreover, try to include accommodating communication systems for app sustainability. 
  • Add MVP features to make it look like a customized app suited to your business needs. Features mentioned above are all the important functionalities of a basic messaging app like WhatsApp. However, you can also add customized features well versed with your business.
  • Further, design a basic module similar to the core of messaging apps. Your design is the face of the product. From color fonts, to icons make sure your app looks desirable to the audience. 

How much does it cost to develop an app like WhatsApp?

Now is the time to address the main part of the article – cost. A messaging app like WhatsApp MVP cost would be in the range of $40,000 to $50,000. However, this is a very rough estimate. 

The mobile app development cost may vary for different mobile app development companies or mobile app developers. Besides, there are a number of other, more advanced features that WhatsApp has added to its application, such as, WhatsApp web, Camera filters, WhatsApp upi payment, end to end chat encryption etc. which have raised the bar high for other social media applications. In fact, the team has also made it possible for mobile app developers to verify users on WhatsApp rather than on traditional SMS applications.

We hope this article was able to convey the complete understanding of WhatsApp development cost for the entire market potential. Moreover, we also discovered how to develop a WhatsApp like application, its near actual cost estimate, hence it is now time to seek expert professional app development services for a smooth development process.

How can Appinventiv help you with WhatsApp like app development?

Appinventiv offers a varied suite of services from custom social network website design to extensive development process, helping businesses connect with the world. Our expert team of social media app developers can fit social elements into traditional businesses along with modern app solutions. 

For instance, we recently developed a voice assistant-supported social media application, Vyrb for our client, Innovative Eyewear. The app allows voice posting on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook using bluetooth glasses and other wearables. 

Contact our social media mobile app development team to build a feature-rich fully functional social media app, or to get a clearer estimate of WhatsApp-like social media app development cost.

THE AUTHOR
Prateek Saxena
DIRECTOR & CO-FOUNDER
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