The Covid-19 pandemic has had negative consequences for so many businesses around the planet. However, for platforms like Zoom, it came out like a shot to fame. The online video conferencing tool rose to instant fame during this period, and it continues to be the tool for meetings and collaborations in various MNCs and SMEs as well.
The lockdowns forced teams to work from home, and it wasn’t easy for the employees to adapt to this new normal. The sudden shift to the work from home environment resulted in a series of challenges. The biggest of them was the challenge to establish a seamless communication channel between the employees, which should also facilitate online collaborations.
Most of the MNCs already had the work from home arrangements where they were using enterprise-level collaboration tools before the pandemic. The biggest challenge was for the SMEs, which hardly had such arrangements in their regular ecosystem. Moreover, not all SMEs could afford expensive enterprise meeting tools.
That’s where Zoom became one of the most used tools by businesses of all scales for conference calls, online meetings, and collaborations. Apart from this, schools, colleges, gyms, fitness trainers, and all kinds of educational and training establishments used Zoom to present an online alternative of their services in the lockdown. To a significant extent, Zoom also became popular among individuals for staying in touch with friends and family via video chatting.
Do you want to build a platform like Zoom?
Looking at the sudden rise in fame of Zoom and other similar tools, it’s certain that video conferencing platforms are in big demand in all spheres of the market. You might want to develop such a platform for your company, or for launching a similar business like Zoom.
So, how much does it cost to build a video chat app like Zoom, and how to build a video chat app from scratch? To understand this, let’s understand how Zoom works and what are the most important features of such an app.
Platforms to select:
Like Zoom, video conferencing apps can work in two different ways to facilitate services on every popular platform.
A. Native Applications
You can build different native apps for Android and iOS using the officially supported technology stacks such as Java for Android and Swift/Objective C for iOS. Alternatively, you can also use frameworks such as React Native to build Hybrid apps that work on Android as well as iOS platforms.
B. Web-based Apps
C. Turnkey Scripts
You can either develop the above two solutions from scratch or use a turnkey script. For example, a decent Zoom clone script will do the job. A turnkey script is simply a ready-made solution that can be customized according to your brand identity and unique needs. Such scripts offer ready-made solutions and popular features out of the box.
A Zoom clone is a turnkey script to build platforms like Zoom with ready-made features straight out of the box. A clone script comes with two major solutions:
- A back-end admin panel
- A front-end Web-based interface
Some advanced scripts also come with ready-made native/hybrid apps for Android and iOS.
Why turnkey scripts are a better choice?
While developing a platform from scratch is not a bad idea, it’s an expensive and time-taking process indeed. To build a simple platform like Zoom from scratch, you will need to take care of the following process:
A. Selecting the technology stack:
For Android Native Apps:
- Programming language: Java
- Dev Tools: Android Studio, Android SDK
- APIs: WebRTC
For iOS Native Apps:
- Programming language: Switch
- Dev Tools: Apple Code, iOS SDK
- APIs: WebRTC
WebRTC APIs and other APIs:
- RTC PeerConnection
- RTC DataChannel
- Any real-time chat and communication API like OpenVidu, Pubnub, CometChat, etc.
B. Hiring the skills and resources:
You need at least the following skills or resources to build a video chatting platform like Zoom:
- Project Manager
- Technical Lead
- iOS developer
- Android developer
- Backend developer
- Graphic Designer
- Web Designer/UI Engineer
- OA and Testing Engineer
C. Cost of building an MVP from scratch (Minimum Viable Product):
With the above team and requirements, the time-frame for a proper SDLC in the Agile model would range between 1700 hours to 2400 hours. Taking the USA development rates as low as $100/hour, the project would cost you around $170,000-$240,000. If you outsource the project to a decent offshore development company in India, the Philippines, or Ukraine with per hour cost as low as $50/hour, the overall investment might come down to $100,000-$150,000, which is still hefty.
D. Cost of building an MVP from Turnkey Scripts
The cost of a turnkey script might differ from place to place, script vendor to vendor. A Zoom clone with Web-app and an Admin panel can be purchased for as low as $600-$700. If you also want the native mobile apps for Android and iOS, you can get the entire set of solutions for around $1500.
I suggest you go for a script that comes with open source-code access. With such a script, you can always customize on top of your MVP, get the choice of selecting your web hosting provider, and change your WebRTC APIs in the future.
Features to look out for in a Zoom clone script
While selecting a clone script with open source-code access is my recommendation, here is a set of features that should look for in any turnkey script to build a video chatting platform:
- 1-to-1 video calling: Ability to call a user in 1-to-1 private mode.
- 1-to-many calling: Group video calling with multiple participants.
- Screen Sharing: Share desktop screen with participants.
- Chat: While in the call, users can also chat via text.
- Integrated whiteboard: Interactive whiteboard for presentations and illustrations.
- End-to-end encryption: An added layer of security to prevent unauthorized interception.
- Record Meetings: Record call sessions and download the file for future reference.
- Mute participants: The host can mute individual participants.
- Remove participants: The host can remove participants from the meeting.
- File-sharing: A secure channel to host and share files among the participants.
If you are building your zoom-like platform for business, make sure you have enough monetization channels to generate revenue from it. The Freemium model would be a good way to start with. You can offer limited features and bandwidth free of cost, while users can be asked to purchase premium subscriptions to use the full features and bandwidth. You can also experiment with the number of participants allowed in free and premium versions of your tool.
Zoom has set the expectations pretty high for others in the market. However, it was not perfected overnight. Even Zoom had to face backlash from the users due to privacy concerns and lack of end-to-end encryption in the beginning. Nevertheless, they fixed the issues, and the platform is reportedly now safer and a go-to tool for online meetings and collaborations.
To create an app like Zoom, you too have to learn from these mistakes and avoid the pitfalls. Choose a solution that not only meets your business needs but is also secure. All the best.