How to Get a Successful Startup by Creating a Messaging Application?

How to get a successful messaging startup

Mobile Messenger apps market grows extremely. The number of mobile phone messaging apps users in 2017 goes to 1.82 Billion worldwide, as of July 2020 only WhatsApp accounts 2 billion active users monthly, followed by Facebook Messenger with a monthly number of active users а 1.3 billion. Is there a place for your startup messaging app, and what functions should a messenger include to become popular in a highly competitive field?

Because of the extreme growth of mobile apps market and a number of smartphones, low-cost or free instant messaging apps have become a cheap alternative to messaging via SMS or MMS. Messenger apps offer a wide range of opportunities for users, such as group chats, photos exchange as well as stickers or emoticons, even video and audio sharing.

Trends of Mobile Messenger Apps Global Market — Asian Products Are Snapping at its Heels

WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger app have topped the market for over 3 years already, followed by Asian WeChat and QQ. Asian mobile messenger app market is continuously expanding local apps, and is actively competing for leadership.

Most popular mobile messaging apps worldwide as of July 2020, based on number of monthly active users (in millions).

WhatsApp messenger interface

If you want to create a messaging app and turn it into a successful startup, you should consider what opportunities are already provided to the users by the giants of messaging industry. You might also be interested in 10 tips on getting real with your startup ideas.

WhatsApp

Only in the United States, WhatsApp gained 68.1 million active users in 2019. This figure is projected to grow to 85.8 million US users in 2023, but the most interesting thing is that this messaging app is especially popular in markets outside the U.S. while facing strong competition from Asia-based social messengers.

The number of daily active WhatsApp Status users grew almost 3 times from 1st quarter 2017 to 1st quarter 2019.

WhatsApp messenger interface

In 2009 WhatsApp was released as mobile messaging app for startup, and since then it has firmly gained the ground of the world’s most popular messenger, available for almost all mobile operating systems. WhatsApp is a cheap alternative to carrier-billed SMS-messaging, especially since it is profitable for international or group messaging. WhatsApp’s popularity on mobile markets is also based on its key features:

  • Quick registration, using the number of mobile phones;
  • Real-Time Events;
  • Files and images sharing;
  • Recording the voice mail;
  • Voice calls.

WhatsApp messenger interface

Also, in WhatsApp, you can upload files from third-party apps like Google Drive, OneDrive and iCloud into a message. For iOS, it is integrated with Siri, that can send messages or make voice-calls on the app directly. How much does it cost to develop a messenger like WhatsApp you may find here.

Facebook messenger

In 2011, Facebook decided to build a chat app — Messenger, being dedicated purely to chatting, it is as famous as WhatsApp when it comes to messaging. The Messenger has a clean and light interface that is easy to use.

Huge number of bots in FB messenger

Besides text messaging, emoticons and photo sharing it is very rich in features:

  • Voice and video calling;
  • Use of In-Chat Reactions, GIFs and Stickers sharing;
  • Indeed a huge number of Bots;
  • Ability to add people to Messenger by clicking the Scan Code tab to scan the user’s Profile code;
  • Rich number of games inside the messenger;
  • Function of setting Reminders for Plans;
  • With the recent update, user can also share his/her live location to friends.

Facebook Messenger ranks consistently as one of the most popular mobile apps in the United States and globally. In July 2020, it had more than 1.3 billion unique monthly visitors. The messenger imports Facebook’s contact and is easy to use both on a desktop computer and mobile devices.

Most popular FB messenger activities:

Most popular messenger activities

WeChat

WeChat, owned by Tencent, a Chinese tech giant, has more than 1.2 billion monthly users. It is the third most popular mobile messaging app, however, it offers much more than simply a text message exchange:

  • Voice messaging,
  • Stickers exchange,
  • Audio and video calls,
  • Sharing photos through the Moments feed,
  • Real-time location sharing,
  • Finding random people nearby,
  • Reading articles through Public Accounts,
  • Instant money transferring and paying in stores. You can pay for things with WeChat practically everywhere in China.
  • Sending virtual red envelopes with real money to friends,
  • Repaying credit cards, paying utility bills, and many more financial operations,
  • Getting access to third-party services like hotel booking, ride-hailing, shopping online, food delivery, and so on,
  • Public services access — booking appointment with a doctor, visa application, driving records checking,

WeChat is called an app for everything in China, even doing business, people prefer it to email.

Moreover, there are mini applications integrated within the service and all of them combined make it a one-stop app for its users.

Companies in China nowadays prefer mini-programs for WeChat instead of standalone solutions. It allows access to a user base exceeding a billion users. More about WeChat integration you can find here.

Viber

Viber was launched a decade ago as a messaging app, and the number of its unique user IDs neared 1.2 billion in almost 200 countries as of March 2020. Like the other messenger solutions, Viber allows its users to stay in touch and not only, but:

  • Install the app on multiple platforms and devices,
  • Synchronize history and transfer calls,
  • Make audio and video calls
  • Exchange stickers, GIFs, and emoticons that allow more customization
  • Record and send immediate audio and video messages,
  • Share pictures, music, videos, and files,
  • Delete read messages and conversations,
  • Create communities.

Viber Out also allows quality international calls to any landline or mobile worldwide, but you should have a positive balance for the purpose.

In addition, chat extensions allow users to search and share restaurants, events, hotels and more without even leaving the chat.

Telegram

Telegram, a cloud-based instant messaging service, emerged in 2013 and disrupted the market by claiming to be the most secure messenger app. As of July 2020, it boasts 400 million monthly active users and is targeting one billion by 2022.

Telegram has made security its distinctive feature and claims that all its activities: chats, groups and media are encrypted. Telegram even changed headquarters jurisdiction several times to evade problematic regulations, now it’s Dubai.

The other advantage of the solution that it can be used on multiple devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops) and platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows NT, macOS, Linux).

The key features of the messenger are:

  • multimedia messages,
  • scheduled and silent messages,
  • voice and video calls,
  • photos and videos editing before sending,
  • self-destruct messages on secret chats,
  • unlimited customization possibilities,
  • free unlimited online storage,
  • live location sharing,
  • adding contacts based on user location,
  • bots,
  • slow mode (can be activated by the group admin),
  • polls,
  • creation channels to broadcast messages to large audiences,
  • sending uncompressed video and images,
  • possibility to lock conversations,
  • termination of active sessions.

What is more, Telegram has launched its own digital currency, Gram, claiming its goal is to create an everyday, mass market cryptocurrency.

Slack — a rising star of corporate communications

Slack messenger for mobile and desctop

Workplace chat programs become more and more popular. Since Slack was founded in late 2013, it has become one of the top corporate messengers, boasting 12 million active daily users in March 2020. One-third of respondents said that after adopting Slack their team productivity has increased by 20 to 40 percent.

 Corporate messenger Slack boasting 5 million users

Slack users can send private messages to each other and use a wide range of functions for interacting and entertaining:

  • The ability to create many different channels for specialized conversations;
  • The Slackbot, that works like a virtual notepad for jot down ideas you want to keep an eye on;
  • Messages can be searched by keyword, also users can set up alerts to stay on top of conversation by keyword as well;
  • Integrations with third-party apps like Asana, Dropbox, and Google Hangouts, help pull information from different sources;
  • Slack is integrated with Giphy (the app for searching GIFs from the web), user access it by simply typing " /giphy" and a keyword like «Hello world!»;
  • The minus of Slack is that it doesn’t keep messages story for long period. But, cencearning the dynamics, users don't really mind it.

Is There a Place for a New Messenger on Play Market?

If you are planning to make a messaging app, you should be ready to face high competition on apps market. Learning from top-rated messaging companies, we may conclude that the most important thing is to find your target audience and satisfy its demands, by providing rich functionality. For example, Slack has occupied its market by providing solutions for corporate needs. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger demonstrate that two products with similar functionality, and even with similar interfaces, can successfully coexist on the market.

WeChat is popular due to its extended functionality and also Facebook is blocked in some Asian regions. Telegram took its audience by claiming they get high-level security and privacy with the app.

Just think, how many messengers you have on your mobile phone. Why do you have several? Most likely, you use different applications for different purposes: one for work, another for chatting with friends, some more may be for studies and business development.

Your mobile messaging app for startup should combine functions of different messengers and match various purposes, or it might make a step up and bring an originally new solution to the market. In a constantly changing world, there is always a place for new creative ideas!

However, as soon as you have an idea, you also have a question how to make a chat app and avoid development pitfalls. Let’s see into a process a bit.

How to build a messaging app step by step?

Discovery phase

To create messenger app and not mess up completely, you should follow the common process of a mobile app development. The first stage of which is discovery. Stfalcon always starts its projects from market research: who the current players are, what they offer, what products exist and what features are implemented, which user pains they relieve. Then you should understand the users as well: what they seek in the solutions they use, what they value most, what pains they still have and what you can offer to beat competitors. When all the questions are answered and the client’s requirements are taken into account, we create the general concept of the product-to-be.

Design

The concept approved by the customer; we move on to design stage. To make an instant messaging app really instant you should craft an intuitive UI, without sacrificing functionality. With such a severe competition, all the slightest details should be considered and polished at this stage. We also agree the design of any product with the customer.

Backend

The business logic of any application is wrapped up in an external server, which is an essential medium an app turns to. The server centralizes the logic of the solution and serves as a mediator which stores and transmits messages. We traditionally use PHP Symfony for backend development to make its work smooth.

Mobile App Development

Finally, we proceed to the solution itself and create iphone text messaging app or Android, or both, depending on the task. As a rule, Stfalcon developers would choose Kotlin make a messenger app for android or turn to Swift for iOS application.

Technical Implementation

Summarizing all the above we can conclude that to make a chat program, the following key features should be implemented in it:

Registration

Since the sign up is usually realized via smartphone, it’s reasonable to make it through using a mobile phone number, with an SMS for confirmation. Then a special library may be used. Social Media authorization is also an option.

Real-Time Events

To notify a user about receiving a new message, friend request, statuses updates in real time push notifications and WebSocket protocol are mostly used. To make a chat application for corporate usage on our client’s request we also used

  • Mobile database Realm
  • Library DataBinding
  • RESTful API
  • Library Retrofit 2.0
  • Firebase Cloud Messaging.

Files and images sharing

At present to make a texting app is not enough to gain the audience, users share photos, videos, files and links. We have developed a library to implement the necessary algorithms for the purpose.

Voice messages

Modern life is dynamic the option to record a voice message is already a must for the apps of such kind. It should be played in the chat window, and have a pause and rewind features. Fortunately a standard set of OS functions can help to implement it.

Voice calls

You may postpone this feature implementation, since it’s rather complex and will come to you at cost. PJSIP library, providing multimedia communication, can be used for VoIP functionality.

Our Experience

Stfalcon has little experience with messenger app development, but we have created the open source library ChatKit - a set of UI elements, for the simple realization of moderately complex chats. It contains users’ dialog list, message thread, and message field and is designed for easy implementation of chat representation logic.

Library of UI elements for easy chats implementation

Besides, a few years ago our company has developed a  Thismo messenger with real-time events, like WhatsApp, but for corporate users, like Slack.

Mobile messenger for business

Final Word

We have strong experience in creating mobile apps of medium and enterprise level. Need MVP development, iOS and Android apps or prototyping? Check out our portfolio and make an order today!