Connecting the world cannot be the only motive of technology. However, WhatsApp started with the same giving a tough competition to contemporary players such as Wechat and Hike. With time, WhatsApp became the most popular chat application in the world. WhatsApp is a popular social app, which features messaging, voice calling, file sharing, documenting sharing, group chat, and GPS location sharing. WhatsApp takes the credit for changing the way, how people communicate with communities. 

WhatsApp covers a massive market share of 850 million users. The messaging app was bought by Facebook, where the FB messenger stayed at second rank with 740 million users. The messaging app WhatsApp is used for sending approximately 50 trillion messages which indicates a likeability to rise more in the coming year.  In 2020, the app was downloaded 96 million times, which indicates a rise of 42.4 percent from 2019. The huge market of any app always attracts investment for similar apps. WhatsApp also gave enough market to WhatsApp clone development.

Let’s take a look at the timeline of the popular messaging app WhatsApp, which will lay the ground for determining the cost of WhatsApp development.

WhatsApp Usage and Popularity Stats

Let’s take a look at the popularity statistics related to WhatsApp, which can really push you to think to develop an app like WhatsApp.

  • WhatsApp is the most used social media messaging app worldwide.
  • Every day, WhatsApp is used for sending 100 billion messages by its 2 billion active users worldwide.
  • Within the span of 4 years from 2016 to 2020, WhatsApp received appreciation by 1 billion users.
  • An average user spends 19.4 hours per month on WhatsApp messaging app.
  • After being taken over by Facebook, WhatsApp got a 365% increase in the count of its active users.

Prominent Features of WhatsApp

Now after looking at the popularity status of the app, it is time to know or calculate the cost of messaging platform app development. For estimating the cost, it is important to know the features. Although, if you are a novice in app development, it takes time to estimate the cost, for messenger app developers, it is too easy to derive the cost for app development. Let’s take a look at the salient features:

User Panel

When you develop an application like WhatsApp, the user panel is an important aspect to think of. The user panel screen must have a nice UX with encrypted messaging app development.

User panel features are described as:

  • Join the app

This is the primary screen to be seen by the User. Users can join the app by registering through email id and phone numbers.

  • Number Verification

Once the user inputs the phone number, a verification OTP is sent to the mobile number and email of the user.

  • View Profile and Manage Profile

After registering the app, the user can manage the app profile. The social media app development experts emphasize the need for an amazing user experience in setting profile pics, status, and online status.

  • List of Contacts

WhatsApp shows the list of users, who are using the app. If the contact of your choice does not use WhatsApp, you can send them an invitation through the message with an app download link.

  • Chat Wallpaper

Users love to make some custom enhancements to their interfaces. WhatsApp gives a feature to set the wallpaper and background images

  • Instant Messaging

WhatsApp allows sending text messages instantly. Users can share the text messages along with emojis to contacts, which are using the app

  • Multimedia Sharing

For an instant messaging app, users need to share multimedia files along with text messages. WhatsApp effectively handles the requirements which makes the chat more interactive.

  • Location Sharing

WhatsApp has a feature to share your current location or the address of your choice to your contact. 

  • Contact Sharing

The real chat application can share contact details between two users in an easy way.

  • Check Chat History

Users can check the chat history with any of their contacts. Also, they can archive the chat history. Here WhatsApp misses the feature of allowing to custom archive the portion of chat, instead of the whole chat history to archive.

  • Manage Privacy Setting

Users can set the privacy of their profiles. They can hide their online status or status updates. They can also block any user if he does not want to.

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Admin Panel

WhatsApp is a huge application, where you will hardly get to see the admin panel. But in fact, there must be an interface that handles the portal.  The prominent features which you will need in the admin panel are:

  • Update Management

Android does not stay the same. There are many versions it keeps rolling out. Therefore to make your app compatible with the latest version, a mobile app development company to has to offer timely updates. These updates are managed by the admin panel.

  • Edit or Delete Layouts

Admin can delete and edit the chat layouts.

  • User Management

Although WhatsApp does not interfere with messages and all messages sent on WhatsApp are encrypted. But still, the active users are monitored by the app.

  • Backup

Earlier, WhatsApp used to manage the data through a local repository in smartphones, but with the new updates, WhatsApp is storing history in its database. Alongside, all the settings related to account privacy, profile pic, etc. are stored in the database server.

  • Report User

If found or reported some wrong request, the admin reserves the right to block the user or discard the user from using the app again. The tough decisions are taken if users are handling some terrorist activity through the app.

  • Statistics

The statistical data related to the usage of the app, installation details, and updates are managed by the admin. The data are monitored by statistics shown on the dashboard.

Advance Features

Merely including a few features cannot be justified as the proper response for “How to make an app like WhatsApp?” Here it is important to know some advanced features, that the superior messaging app WhatsApp is offering.  You can replicate some or all of the features and can attract a good market share.

  • App Analytics

Application analytics is an important feature of the instant chat app. Admin should determine the number of users, features, install settings, etc. Admin can streamline the productivity and operability, which allows the admin for improving value.

  • Encryption

Your social media app developers will emphasize for encryption of chat. WhatsApp takes care of the messages from being interfered with.

  • Voice Recording

Users can send messages, along with their voices. You need to tap on the recording button and hold them for a long till you record your voice. Voice features come out really handy when users wish to send audio messages instead of typing the long messages. Audio calls make the conversation intuitive and comprehended.

  • Money Transfer

WhatsApp has not fully rolled out the feature for its users, but looking for the same. Many social media networks are providing such e-wallet options, where users can send the amount to their know ones who are using the same chat app.

  • Cloud Integration

For making the app rich and powerful, cloud integration plays a significant role. The communication details, chat details, and other options are stored on the cloud, which offers fluent availability. Not only faster but also secure. Cloud integration proffers app scalability and secures the data in a sophisticated way.

  • Compatible

A chat app cannot be determined for use on any particular mobile platform. Users can use any mobile phone and still be willing to use any app. You cannot leave that customer, who is willing to use your app for communication. Therefore, it is important to build an app runnable on every platform such as Android, iOS, and Windows. Alongside, WhatsApp development cost is influenced by the support for multiple protocols such as ICQ, Google Talk, and AIM. But looking at the reliability of communication, the cost is neglected.

  • Audio and Video Streaming

How the messages are stored client-side, really matters, but while becoming habitual of WhatsApp, users tend to send more audio and video links than text messages. The audio and video links must be streamable through chat app windows. The video links are generally taken from savvy or YouTube. Your app must be capable to play all the links; otherwise, it can be a huge reason for the uninstallation of the app.

  • Push Notification

Push notification is the attribute that is now common for almost every app. Push notification updates the user on the incoming messages and notifications. This comes out handy when you are not using your phone and some important message pops up. Push notifications can be fruitful for customer engagement. 

How do Apps like WhatsApp Make Money?

WhatsApp mobile app development cost is highly influenced by the technologies being used and other external maintenance factors. In the wake of the venture for developing an app like WhatsApp, business always gets interested in a creative way of monetization.

With the news of Facebook purchasing WhatsApp for $19 billion, social media application development experts withdraw their attention from the core work. The secret of how social media chat application like WhatsApp earns is no more a hidden fact. Let’s understand the ways, in which mobile chat app development can be a source of huge earnings.

WhatsApp Monetization

There are two revenue sources WhatsApp uses. One is the WhatsApp Business API and the second is the click on WhatsApp Ads.

  • WhatsApp Business App helps businesses to serve catalogs respond to customer queries and offer customer support. Although the business app version of WhatsApp is free, API for business generates income for the company.
  • As the WhatsApp Business API launched, huge companies such as Uber, Wish and other 100 firms appreciated and adopted the API within a month of launch.
  • If you want slow replies for your customer aka after 24 hours of the query, WhatsApp business charges money. The business app version can return you the incurred cost to create an app like WhatsApp.
  • Facebook advertisements are a great source of income for WhatsApp, as they are directly connected to WhatsApp. A user can be directly redirected to WhatsApp with the web app.

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Technology Stack

To develop an app like WhatsApp, it is important to understand the working of messaging app. Let’s understand the working of the app.

  • WhatsApp makes use of the Ejabberd server, which is backed by the Erlang language.
  • Erlang is adaptable to hotfixes and ad-hoc updates.
  • WhatsApp uses the XMPP protocol.

Here is the actual technology stack used by the most prominent messaging app.

1. Erlang

Erlang is one of the powerful scripting languages. The language is used primarily for the real-time application and the projects for the telecom, and instant messaging industry. Erlang is the primary reason behind the huge success of the WhatsApp app. Erlang enables WhatsApp to handle millions of users concurrently while zero downtime.

2. FreeBSD

FreeBSD is the Unix-like OS developed by Berkley Software Distribution. The capable operating system is used for powering modern servers, embedded platforms, and desktops. It withholds millions of messages being transacted every day. Beyond WhatsApp, FreeBSD is used by Nintendo, Netflix, and play station systems.


Erlang-based web server, YAWS is the best-suited high-performing server, which can be run as a standalone web server or can be embedded into other Erlang-based app servers. The server uses a lightweight threading system built by Erlang, therefore works amazingly with high concurrency.

4. Lighttpd

Lighttpd is a highly reliable open-source server. The server is well-optimized for a faster environment while delivering guaranteed security and flexibility. The open-source server is used for handling a large load of WhatsApp messaging.

5. PHP

PHP is the server-side scripting language, which covers almost 60 percent of the web market. The aristocracy of frameworks in PHP makes it suitable for a wide range of applications. The language supports WhatsApp messaging service because of being faster than all scripting languages. The language is platform-independent and renders a huge number of libraries.


Extensible Messaging Presence Protocol, aka XMPP, is the message exchanging protocol. This works on the network for exchanging XML elements in real-time. The protocol is used by WhatsApp for the real-time exchange of well-structured data between networks.

Alternate Technologies

Other than the primary technology stack, the following is the list of alternate technologies that are used for developing an app like WhatsApp:

1. GWT

Google Web Toolkit is an open-source development toolkit that enables developers to maintain, develop and optimize JavaScript-based front-end applications. GWT is popularly used for developing many products at social media app Orkut and services like Google Ad words.

2. Datastax

Datastax is the apache Cassandra-based NoSql database, which is highly scalable for advanced applications. Datastax is used by leading 400 enterprises including Capital One, Comcast, Sony, Walmart, and McDonald’s for building the powerful application deployed on the cloud. 

3. Twilio

The American communication platform for software developers. Twilio allows programmatically receiving and making phone calls, transacting text messages, and performing communication.

4. Mandrill

Mandrill is the leading transactional email client from MailChimp. With Mobile chat app development, Mandrill enables businesses to send emails. Customers can interact with web apps using fast delivery and personalized emails.

5. Real-time Analytics

There are several choices of real-time analytics available for developing an app like WhatsApp such as Hadoop, Cisco, IBM, Spark, etc.

Cost of Developing a Messaging App like WhatsApp

The above features easily determine the mobile app development cost.  Messaging app development market is high on rising and therefore the expectations of users are also rising with the competition. Zooming in a little more the cost of making an app like WhatsApp depends on 4 important factors:

  • The platform of the code
  • Features of the app
  • Geolocation of the mobile app development company
  • The complexity of the features

Before, starting the app development or before you hire mobile app developers, it is a must to determine the proper answer to the above factors? Although it is impossible to determine the fixed cost of mobile messaging app development, still we can give an estimate as per the features given above.

If your most proximate market share is android, means if you are targeting android users, the cost to develop an app like WhatsApp will be around $20,000-$25,000. The cost is estimated for the given features. For building an iOS-based instant messaging app with the above features, it will cost you around $25,000-$30,000.

Building an app for both platforms can cost you a little more, but can open up many opportunities. The cost to develop an app like WhatsApp will be around $40,000-$45,000, which, may scale up with the number of features.

Final Words

Building a messenger app is a profitable but complicated process. Truly speaking, if you want a clone of the WhatsApp messaging app with all the features fueled into it, it will incur a huge cost. The WhatsApp application is built to be used by billion of users at a time.

This is the best time in the market to clone WhatsApp with a few important features. A powerful messaging app can help you in gaining a significant market share. The app development involves the use of various technologies for each part of the app, database storage, data encryption, UI/UX development, Load balancing, cloud services, etc. Managing all the components increases the cost to create an app like WhatsApp, and also increases the recurring cost. Collaborating with a trusted social media app development company is very helpful for reaching an optimal solution.

The above discussion gives you a clear picture of the features and estimated cost. Here we can summarize the points to remember:

  • Choose the native app platform
  • Prepare the feature list
  • Decide the max and min limits of the budget.

You can sit and relax till the development team is working. But remember it’s your project, for which you need to dig out something extra to be the cherry on the cake. Keep yourself in the loop with the developers and IT managers; keep discussing probable upgrades as per the market.

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