How To Determine WhatsApp Development Costs: A Complete Guide

Prateek Saxena November 25, 2022
Whatsapp development cost

With over 2 billion active users, WhatsApp is one of the most sought-after messaging apps that has dominated the social media landscape ever since its inception. As the app rose to popularity over the years, major enterprises and startups started to invest in the similar app space and launched their messaging apps.

WhatsApp quarterly users data

But something is always lacking in the hundreds of messaging social media apps available at the app store and users wish for something that is as extraordinary as WhatsApp. Thus, there is always scope to develop a custom social media app that can offer a better and safer messaging experience to a wider user base. But how much would such a WhatsApp-like chat app cost?

This article aims to answer just that by helping you get a clear understanding of WhatsApp development cost. The article will also let you have a look at the various factors that affect the development cost of a WhatsApp-like chat app and the different features that contribute to WhatsApp’s success.

But before we begin, let us first take a brief look at the timeline of WhatsApp to know how the app has been dominating the business space for years.

Timeline of WhatsApp

The figure exhibits the evolution of WhatsApp from its launch till the time it was acquired by Meta.

Timeline of WhatsApp

Now, 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.
  • 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 anticipated to monetize through business subscriptions and premium business features.

Now, without further ado, let us help you understand the cost of WhatsApp.

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

To give you a rough estimate, the WhatsApp development cost can vary between $35,000 to $250,000. The overall cost can be further impacted by various factors like the design of the app, its development process, the platform it is to be designed for, location and hourly rates of development, etc.

The mobile app development cost may also vary as per the skills and location of the mobile app development company you are hiring for your project. Besides, there are a number of 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, thus increasing your overall development budget.

Get exact cost estimation of your social media messaging app

Now let us try and offer you a reliable formula that can help you determine an estimated development budget for a WhatsApp-like messaging app.

Cost of Chat App Like WhatsApp = Total Development Hours x Hourly Rate of Development

The total development hours taken to build an WhatsApp-like messaging social media app is the sum total of time taken to complete the app’s wireframe, design, coding, testing as well as maintenance.

Now that you have an exact formula to calculate the cost of a WhatsApp like app, let us move ahead and explain in detail the various factors that can impact the overall expenses.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Messaging Apps Like WhatsApp

Creating a well-defined and robust WhatsApp-like app requires a dedicated business model while needing professional expertise. Every technology and feature integrated into the app will impact its overall cost of development.

Here is the detailed description of all the factors that influence the development budget:

Factors Affecting the Cost of Messaging Apps Like WhatsApp

App Complexity

The overall complexity of the app directly impacts the cost of WhatsApp-like app development. A simple app with a basic feature list can cost you less compared to the one with an extensive feature list and a highly complex design. Let us try and give you the app development cost estimate as per the overall app complexity.

Messaging Social Media App Type Estimated Cost Time Frame
Simple App $35,000 to $60,000 3 to 6 months
Moderately Complex App $60,000 to $100,000 6 to 8 months
Highly Complex App $100,000 to $250,000 9+ months

UI/UX Design

A well-defined UI/UX design is important for the success of your mobile app while making way for an increased user engagement as well as retention. Creating a custom UI/UX strategy for your app further requires multiple testing parameters to be carried out that further impact the overall development budget.

App Platform

Before choosing the mobile app development process, it is important to decide the underlying app platform. Based on your user base, you can choose between iOS, Android or cross-platform applications. Even though there is negligible cost difference between creating iOS and Android apps, the latter can increase the app development cost based on stringent testing techniques required. On other hand, choosing cross-platform app development at the initial stage can also increase your development budget.

[Also Read: Android vs iOS: Which Platform is Better for Mobile Startups?]

Team Size

Team size for development also impacts the cost of WhatsApp-like app development. Outsourcing a project is usually more affordable as compared to hiring an in-house team. You can further optimize the costs if you outsource to an organization in a country with lower development rates. They can offer you professional expertise and skills at a reduced cost.

Also, growing an in-house team is a daunting task as you will have to go through a lengthy hiring process and manage everything from scratch. Outsourcing to a dedicated organization offers you all the resources you need in no time.

The minimum team requirements to create chat app like WhatsApp:

  • 1-2 project manager
  • 1-2 business analysts
  • 2-3 frontend developers
  • 2-3 backend developers
  • 1-2 designers
  • 1-2 quality assurance analyst

Location of the app development agency

The location of the app development agency directly impacts the costs for messaging app development. For instance, choosing an agency in Asia or South America can cost you less as compared to the one in the UK or US. Here is the estimated rate of development as per multiple regions of the world.

Region Hourly Rate of Development
US $95-$100
Western Europe $80-$90
Australia $70-$90
Eastern Europe $50-$55
Asia $25-$40

Maintenance

The development process doesn’t end with launching the app in the app store. You have to make considerable efforts to ensure that it runs smoothly on all the platforms. In addition to this, offering constant updates and integrating modern technologies as per the market requirements makes way for the app’s overall success. All these measures contribute to increasing the overall app development costs.

[Also Read: How Mobile Application Maintenance is a Key to Your App’s Success?]

Tech Stack

A strong tech stack for your mobile app further impacts the development costs. WhatsApp is one of the most popular social media messaging apps across the world with a growing user base every month. Now, backing this app is an entire stack of scalable technology that helps keep the level of innovation intact but also impacts the costs.

WhatsApp tech stack

Feature List

The features integrated into your app further affect the cost of WhatsApp-like app development. Building an app with an extensive feature list can offer you a much-needed edge in the otherwise competitive social media marketspace.

Now that you have a clear understanding of various factors that impact the cost of app development, let us now discuss in detail the multiple features required to create a robust WhatsApp-like social media app and their time frame for development.

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:

Features for Developing an App Like WhatsApp

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)

Voice calling

WhatsApp 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

WhatsApp 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 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 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

Feature Approximate Time Frame
Registration 50-55 hours
Real Time Messaging 210-220 hours
Voice Calling 200-220 hours
Video Calling 180-220 hours
Multimedia Sharing 40-50 hours
Settings 110-120 hours
Contact Sharing 80-80 hours
Location Sharing 25-30 hours
Notifications 15-20 hours
Business Profile Varies on the type of business niche
Chat Label Varies on the type of tech stack used

Now that you have a clear understanding of all the features it takes to build an app like WhatsApp, let us move ahead and determine how to create a chat application like whatsapp?

Get custom feature list for your social media messaging app

How to create a messaging 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.

Now while we have discussed almost everything related to WhatsApp development, including its tech stack, feature-set, and costs, there might come a question to your mind, should you at all be investing in WhatsApp-like app development? Let’s find out in the next section.

Should You Invest in Creating an App Like WhatsApp?

While WhatsApp has been capable of dominating the messaging social media app landscape, there are still many other messaging apps that have created a space for themselves in the majority of their target countries.

Most popular global mobile messenger apps

All these apps have been able to provide a unique proposition to their users, which has made them successful in the market.

For instance, Telegram is one of the apps that has made it to the most downloaded messaging apps of the world as it offers heavily encrypted self-destructing chat modes to the users. In addition to this, the app has a wide range of stickers that makes way for an increased user engagement.

Another famous messaging social media app Snapchat has gained major popularity over the years and has offered a tough competition to WhatsApp by offering users an in-moment communication. From photo sharing to messages, users can select to auto destroy the chats as they please.

So, if you have a unique business idea that is capable of offering a unique user experience, you must invest in the social media messaging app ecosystem.

However, while diving into the social media messaging app space does look like a daunting task, what you need is a dedicated social media app development services company to put things into perspective. So, in our last section, let us brief you a bit about how we can help!

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.

VYRB

We hope you have a clear understanding of the WhatsApp development cost and the various factors that affect it. 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.

FAQs

Q. How to create a chat application like WhatsApp?

A. Creating a chat app like WhatApp requires you to carry out the following steps:

  • Analyze your market and target audience
  • Choose a relevant business model
  • Hire a dedicated app development organization
  • Carry out the app’s wireframe
  • Finalize the features to develop the app MVP
  • Complete the UI/UX design process
  • Make several measures for quality assurance
  • Deploy the app in the market
  • Maintain as per the emerging social media app trends

Q. How do messaging apps like WhatsApp make money?

A. The various monetization models that are used by messaging apps include subscriptions, in-house advertisement, in-app purchases, etc. In addition to this, apps also earn money by looking for sponsors.

Q. How much does it cost to make an app like WhatsApp?

A. The overall cost of making an app like WhatsApp varies between $35,000 to $250,000. The prices can further vary depending on the number of factors like UI/UX design, location of the app development organization, quality assurance, app maintenance, team size, etc.

Q. How long does it take to build an app like WhatsApp?

A. The time frame required to build an app like WhatsApp varies as per the app complexity as well as the number of features to be integrated. For instance, creating a basic app with minimal features can take around 3 to 6 months while creating a highly complex app can take around 9 to 12 months.

THE AUTHOR
Prateek Saxena
DIRECTOR & CO-FOUNDER
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