Did you know the motivation behind Jan Koum creating WhatsApp? Well, keeping apart everything else, he was missing too many calls at the gym. WhatsApp turned out to be a $19.1 billion solution to this problem. So, how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp?
In case you are wondering where that number came from, WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook for $19.1 billion in 2014. Fast forward to 2020, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app available in the market.
In this article, I am going to take you on an in-depth tour of how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp. If you are interested, I also did a similar article on how to create a streaming app like Netflix earlier.
In this article, I am going to cover everything you need to know about how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp:
- How Does WhatsApp Make Money?
- Is The Market Ready For Another Messaging App Like WhatsApp?
- How Do Messaging Apps Like Whatsapp Work?
- Technology Behind A Messaging App Like WhatsApp
- Must-Have Features of A Messaging App Like WhatsApp
- Extra Features To Make Your App Stand Out
- How Much Does It Cost To Build An App Like Whatsapp?
WhatsApp Business Model – How Does WhatsApp Make Money?
You must be wondering when thinking of how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp, how does the app make money? Well, to begin with, WhatsApp has 2000 million daily active users as of March 2020, according to Statista.
I would like to highlight a quote from the movie The Social Dilemma on Netflix – “If You Are Not Paying for the Product, You Are the Product!” But oddly enough, WhatsApp doesn’t run ads within the app. At least, not yet!
I find it interesting how this blog explaining why WhatsApp doesn’t sell ads begins with a quote from the movie Fight Club that reads – “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”
At the same time, here’s something interesting. The co-founder of WhatsApp – Jim Koum left WhatsApp in 2018. Techcrunch reported it as – “WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum quits Facebook due to privacy intrusions.”
You know it’s free to use instant chatting up without even bombarding user screens with ads. So, how does a messaging app like WhatsApp make money?
WhatsApp introduced a $1 subscription fee for using the app in some countries after a year of free usage but it also shut it down in 2016, making it absolutely free. Currently, one of the ways WhatsApp makes money is through its WhatsApp for Business app.
The WhatsApp for Business app was launched after Facebook acquired it. While it is also free to use, there is a hidden fee. If a business replies to a customer any later than 24 hours, it is charged a fee.
I think this a clever strategy. For users, this will encourage them to contact a business on WhatsApp, and for businesses, the incentives are to provide better customer service and to interact with their customers where they are – on the WhatsApp app.
Apart from this, Facebook also shows ads, click on which a user is directly taken to the WhatsApp chat option of the particular business. But, even here, the ads are shown on Facebook. So, I won’t count it under WhatsApp’s revenue model.
A very recent strategy by WhatsApp to make money is the introduction of WhatsApp Pay. WhatsApp has introduced WhatsApp Pay in few countries in 2020 using which users can send and receive payments as easily as sending a file attachment.
So, after reviewing the ways how WhatsApp makes money, you’ll notice that its power is its huge user base. And they can use it to make money in many different ways.
Which business revenue model are you planning to use when thinking of how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp? I, for one, would steer clear of the Ad Revenue Model as it is one of the reasons why WhatsApp is so popular.
Is The Market Ready For Another Messaging App Like WhatsApp?
Market research for an app idea before getting to the design & development phase has become the norm. So, this is a legit question you should address when thinking of how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp.
So, can the existing market handle another messaging app like WhatsApp?
As you already know, there already is a plethora of messaging apps like Whatsapp. If I had to name a few of them, Hike, Facebook Messenger, Viber, etc. would top the list.
Before addressing the original question in this section of how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp, let’s look at a few stats.
- The adoption of smartphones is increasing at a rate of 8-9% per year. So, there is obviously a market for a new messaging app.
- According to a survey, more than 50% of users utilize apps to connect with their families and friends. A part of these users could use your messaging app to connect if make the right one.
- Another study estimates that the average revenue of a messaging app per user is currently exceeding $15. There is a lot of money that can be made using your messaging app as well.
If one had to speculate using the above stats, there is a market for making another messaging app like WhatsApp. Having said that, the market is always open to unique ideas.
It doesn’t matter who came first and there are a billion examples of this. One of them is MySpace and Facebook. If you are thinking of how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp, you cannot expect to onboard new users by creating its replica.
For instance, one of the reasons why Telegram is becoming popular is because of its security and privacy features.
So, if you are thinking of how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp, you’ll have to think of at least one USP that makes it different from other messaging apps out there and market it using that.
Up until now, we have seen the business side of how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp. Let’s dive into the technical side with this question – how do messaging apps like WhatsApp work?
How Do Messaging Apps Like Whatsapp Work?
Before we move further in this guide on how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp, it is important to understand how messaging apps work.
WhatsApp, for one, uses Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) server – ejabberd along with a FreeBSD operating system to facilitate instant messaging between one or more users in real-time.
The robustness, reliability, and scalability of ejabberd make it a perfect choice for messaging apps. Besides, XMPP is decentralized which makes the entire thing more secure. HTML5 WebSockets is used to facilitate two-way communication.
WhatsApp uses ERLANG – a scripting language. This language not only stands at the core of WhatsApp but it is also used to further optimize the performance of the servers, making the process more robust with zero tolerance for downtime.
YAWS – a high-performance web server, written in ERLANG, is used for storing your multimedia files.
When a user sends multimedia files like pictures or videos, they are temporarily stored in a queue which is emptied as soon as the person at the other end receives them.
The database management of WhatsApp is handled by Mnesia DB which ensures quick responses and improves the efficiency of the entire process. This makes WhatsApp capable of handling over 50 billion messages per day.
So, let’s list out technologies that you would need when thinking of how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp.
Tech Stack Of A Messaging App Like WhatsApp
Here are a few of the elements that stand at the core of the technology stack of a messaging app like WhatsApp.
- Erlang – a programming language
- Lighttpd – a secure & flexible webserver
- SoftLayer – an open-source lightweight web server
- YAWS – a high-performance web server
- ejabberd – an XMPP server
- FreeBSD – a Unix-like operating system
- Mnesia DB and MySQL (or PostgreSQL) – for database management
- PHP – a scripting language
Business Tools that a messaging app like WhatsApp would need:
- G Suite
These were some of the technologies and languages that are crucial for creating a messaging app like WhatsApp.
I didn’t want to bore you with any more technical details of what goes into creating messaging apps but you, as an entrepreneur, understand that the tech stack behind apps like WhatsApp is what makes users like them.
With on-point marketing, you can get users for your app but its usability is what makes users keep using them. So, when thinking of how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp, you should make it a priority to get the best development experts by your side!
I have covered how to hire a development team for your business in my previous blog.
Must-Have Features of A Messaging App Like WhatsApp
When you are planning to launch a messaging app in today’s market, you’ll have to consider the features they are offering, how they offering them, and what can you do differently.
In this section of how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp, I am going to list out a few must-have features of a normal messaging app in today’s market.
User Registration is an important aspect of any mobile app, especially for messaging apps like WhatsApp. There are many reasons for this. Here are a few to begin with.
A smooth onboarding experience increases the chances of app user retention. Besides, it also brings a sense of security among your users when user registration is the first step of using your messaging app.
While user registration/onboarding is important, it is also crucial to keep it as easy as possible. If you use a lot of apps, you must have noticed how most apps have multiple user registrations/sign up options – via mobile number, email address, social media, etc.
When thinking of how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp, going with a mobile number for user registration is a safe choice. To state the obvious, using saved contacts, you can make it easier for a user to interact with their friends and family members.
This is crucial when you are thinking about how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp.
It’s 2020 and your users expect a smooth chatting experience when using your messaging app. Even a minor lag or bug can drive users away from your app. There are many other messaging apps users can go to.
To prevent any delay in the delivery of messages, I recommend that you go with a server-based chatting app like WhatsApp instead of a client-side messaging app.
The awareness about privacy & security has grown over the past few years. As such, chat encryption becomes a must-have feature when you are wondering how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp.
With an end-to-end encryption option, your users will feel more secure about their data which definitely will play in the favor of your app. For instance, Telegram has a feature called “Secret chats” that allows its users to send encrypted messages that won’t be stored on the app’s servers.
Another feature that has become quite popular among messaging apps is self-destroying messages. In a way to look at it, self-destroying messages are the primary reason behind Snapchat’s success.
Push notifications are a clever way to keep your users engaged and increase retention of your messaging app. You can do a lot of experiments with push notifications while keeping in mind that too many notifications will just annoy your users.
If you are planning to create a messaging app like WhatsApp, you can use push notifications in a better way. Instead of just sending notifications when your users get a new message, you can notify them of other things as well such as when their favorites come online.
Voice & Video Calls
Messaging apps today have become more than just sending text messages. They have become a place where users can get together with their friends and family members online.
This is why Voice & Video calls become a must-have feature when you are thinking of how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp.
In a survey about Facebook’s Messenger, sending a photo was its second-most-popular feature.
As such, multimedia and location sharing become must-have features of a messaging app. Besides, WhatsApp also allows its users to synchronize their data – chats and multimedia over cloud – Google Drive, iCloud, etc. So, you can consider cloud synchronization as well if you plan to include file sharing in your messaging app like WhatsApp.
These were some must-have features that you should consider when planning how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp. Apart from these, there are some extra features that you should consider for making your messaging app stand out.
Extra Features To Make Your App Stand Out
- Payment – WhatsApp has recently launched its payment features where users can send money to their contacts as easily as they send files. This can also help you monetize your messaging app like WhatsApp.
- Stickers – Stickers are fun but there are only limited messaging apps that allow their users to send customized stickers to their friends.
- Schedule Messages – Even a popular messaging app like WhatsApp doesn’t allow message scheduling for occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, etc. As such, it becomes an important extra feature to consider when creating a messaging app like WhatsApp.
- Send Messages Programmatically – This is another extra feature that can make your messaging app popular among businesses. WhatsApp uses this in their Business API and hence, allowing businesses to connect better with their customers.
- Games – I personally don’t prefer this but messaging apps have become more than just messaging. You can also include lighter games in your messaging app like WhatsApp to attract more users.
How to Make A Messaging App Like WhatsApp? – Final Words
I hope that this article helped you to get a basic outline of how to make a messaging app like WhatsApp. Having said that, a mobile app is only as good as the team that develops it. This is where we can help.
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