100 billion messages!

That’s the number of messages shared using WhatsApp daily.

From a casual ‘Hi’ to closing a business deal, many things happen on WhatsApp.

When WhatsApp rose to popularity, many peer-to-peer messengers were introduced to the market such as Signal, Telegram,etc. But WhatsApp crushed the competition with around 2 billion active users.

Investing in a messenger app like WhatsApp is still a good idea since people are always looking for a better and safer environment to share their messages.

In this blog, you will learn how much will you need to spend to create an app like WhatsApp from scratch.

So if you’re planning to create one, you can set your budget easily and save more time.

Let’s get started.

WhatsApp was founded by Brian Acton and Jan Koum in 2009 when they released the app for iOS users alone; later, they released the app for Android in 2010. In February 2013, WhatsApp hit 200 million users; in 2014, Facebook bought the app for a whopping 16 billion US dollars.

This is the timeline of WhatsApp; when WhatsApp 2.0 hit the stores, there is no going back. The incredible results have been witnessed by most of us.

WhatsApp build its supremacy in the messaging field; let’s look into some fascinating facts about WhatsApp.

      • As of 2021, WhatsApp has more than 2 billion active users
      • The total number of messages exchanged daily – 100 billion
      • WhatsApp is used in more than 180 countries
      • It’s also ranked as the most used mobile messaging ap
      • An average WhatsApp spends more than 19 hours per month on the app
      • India has the world’s largest WhatsApp community- more than 390 million users
      • You can create a group with a maximum of 512 people in WhatsApp
      • There are more than 18 million downloads of the dedicated business app – WhatsApp business
      • Approximately 175 million messages are sent to WhatsApp business accounts every day
      • About 26% of male and 21% of female in the US population uses WhatsApp
      • During its early days, WhatsApp used to charge the user 1$ for a yearly subscription. After some time, the app has withdrawn the payment method and made it free

Source: ThinkImpact

How does WhatsApp work?

WhatsApp uses the internet to send messages to a friend or a friend group. Like SMS services, WhatsApp messages are not charged.

WhatsApp uses Ejabberd (XMPP) server, which helps to instantly transfer data from one user to another or to a group in real-time.

The programming language used to build WhatsApp is Erlang, which is so flexible to adapt for faster updates and quick fixes.

Essentials features of an app like WhatsApp

When you build your app, especially your first app, you will have a surge to add all the features you thought of in your app.

The cost to build a messaging app will increase when the features increase. You can’t go so minimum and obviously not maximum.

So how to prioritise the feature before the development stage; here is the answer you need to find out what features your app needs. Then you have to split the list of features into two types – Need and Want.

The features in the Need category will be included early stage, and other features in the Want category will be later included in the app iteratively.

WhatsApp has a lot of features, and they are added time by time. You must need a better understanding of your target audience and your unique selling point to prioritise the features.

To help you better, we have curated a list of most needed app features to build an app like WhatsApp.

Features for your messaging app

Needed features
Wanted features
Registration Favourite contacts
Contact Integration Reacting to messages
Group creation Bio-Metrics protection
Text messaging Back up
Smiley Search option
Voice messaging GIFs sharing
Media file sharing Group voice or video calls
Voice and video calls Message encryption
Document sharing Read receipts
Contact info Location sharing
Profile creating
Starred messages or Bookmarks
Push notification
Access to camera
Data storage
Dark mode

When you move further in this technology world, customers will be expecting more than they have already experienced, so your app needs to have more advanced features in the later stage to pace the competition. Some advanced features like the following.

Advanced Features
Real-time location sharing
QR codes for accounts
Status or story update
Business account
Multiple accounts in a single device
Web application
Desktop application
Analytics for businesses

You can start your app journey from Need – Want – Advanced features.

Tools and technologies required

Once you have a final decision on your features list, you can move to the tech stack needed to build an instant messaging app.

Programming language Erlang
Webserver YAWS and Ejabered
Database Menesia
Offline database SQLite
Protocol used XMPP
Development of native apps Java/C++/C#/objective C

Note – Your developers can also choose the tech stack which will be comfortable for them. According to the tech stack selected, the cost to build a messaging app will fluctuate.

10 Steps to develop a messenger app

Before you start to build your app, you need better planning and a well-versed blueprint to make sure you reach the desired end product. It demands a collective effort from different team to make this happen.

      1. Research your market and target audience
      2. Choose a relevant business model
      3. Hire an experienced team to develop your product
      4. Start with app architecture
      5. Add MVP features that suit along with a unique solution
      6. Start designing your app
      7. Test again and again
      8. Deploy in app markets
      9. Start adding more essential features
      10. Go with the emerging mobile development trend

Once your target customers reach your product; you will get a lot of feedback to consider, take a deep look into it and make changes accordingly. With every trend, try to add new features and more security. Maintenance plays a crucial role in app success; you can’t just deploy and reap benefits. You need to work on the updates and security features to acquire success in the long run.

Factors impacting the app development costs

From choosing the business model, an app like WhatsApp demands a lot of investment. Every tech stack you choose will make fluctuations in the app development cost. Some important factors influencing the app development costs

1. Number of features

The more the features the higher the development cost. So, it’s always good to start with essential features. You can add complex features at a later stage post release.

2. UI/UX design

Making the app simple will be a wise choice to go for at the initial stage. Not only does it lower the cost to build your app, but it also makes the app simple for users.

3. Tech stack you choose to develop

Many choose tech stack based on the developer’s choice or new technologies to cope with the future demands. But finding an exact match to handle the tech stack will demand some investment too.

4. Platforms you choose to build – Android/iOS or Both

Now we have cross-app platforms to build your app with single coding. But it also demands separate front-end development for every platform.

5. Server infrastructure

At the initial stage, you don’t need to invest a hectic amount in server infrastructure. When the user base increases renting a cloud service won’t be an ideal deal. For every customer increase, you need to invest a good amount of money in the server infrastructure to store data.

6. How you choose to develop the app – In-house or Outsourcing

Hiring an in-house team demands a lot of time and money but comes with the advantage of more reliability. Outsourcing with an experienced team will provide you with more technical expertise at a  reasonable cost for development.

Team requirements

Before we estimate the average cost to build a messaging app, Its better to understand the team requirements. The minimum team requirements are

      • Project manager (Not required for MVP. Can be added at a later stage)
      • Business analysts
      • Front end developers
      • Back end developers
      • Designers
      • Quality assurance analyst

Every one have their own role and if you need to develop the app in less time. Then the number of team members will increased.

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

If you choose to develop or outsource your app development process, app developers’ location will significantly impact app development costs.

The average cost to build a messaging app like WhatsApp will range from $30,000 to $70,000. If you choose to hire app developers, the average cost per hour of developers will be based on the country. Look how much developers paid per hour across the globe.

If you are a non-technical person looking to build an app or need guidance to develop your app, then you can rely on experienced app development companies to build an app like WhatApp with the features and tech stacks of your choice.

App Development Cost
Rate per Hour
Eastern Europe
Western Europe
Northern America

Interesting read: If you are a person with non-technical background, here are some 7 platforms where you can build your own mobile app without any codes.

How NeoITO can help you build an app like WhatsApp?

NeoITO has been in the field of software development for more than 8 years and offers a extensive tech expertise to founders and startups looking to build their products faster.

We have been working on emerging technologies for the past couple of years to build top-notch software solutions. If you find yourself looking for a reliable software product development partner, then you can contact us to develop your app and get more than expert solutions.

Note: Here is something for you If you are wondering should you hire a full-stack developer or a team of specialists for your business. This comparison will give you an idea.

Final thoughts

A good messaging app with unique features and better privacy and security terms will acquire a good number of users. Building a full-fledged messaging app like WhatsApp is an expensive affair.

Hope this blog provided you with better information about the cost to build a messaging app and also a glimpse into everything in developing an app like WhatsApp. A better way to stand out from other messaging apps is to create a unique user experience for your users.

If you have any queries about the cost, get in touch with us today to get a project estimate.

Bonus FAQs

WeChat, Signal, Viber, Skype, and Telegram are some of the most commonly used apps similar to WhatsApp.

Start with brainstorming some unique features and have a list of features to be included. Then you can move on to find a source for investment, and then you can hire developers or outsource your development to develop your app.

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