How much does it cost to make an app like Clubhouse?
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10 min read

How much does it cost to make an app like Clubhouse?

Have you noticed that Clubhouse seems to be on everyone’s lips lately? The app was an instant hit. Within a month, virtually all other social media platforms were buzzing with the news of who had gained access and how fantastic it is.  During the pandemic/lockdown era, Clubhouse redesigned virtual conversations, and its popularity grows by the day.

Table of contents

  1. What is Clubhouse?
  2. How popular is Clubhouse?
  3. What can you do in Clubhouse?
  4. Must-have features for Clubhouse-like mobile app development
  5. How much does it cost to make an app like Clubhouse?
  6. Summary

What is Clubhouse?

Clubhouse is an up-and-coming social media application that allows users to host audio chats. These voice-based conversations in so-called “rooms” are divided into three parts: speakers, listeners followed by the speakers, and the rest of the users listening. Each person who would like to participate in a conversation may “raise a hand” and, with the moderator’s acceptance, join the “stage”. That’s basically how it works.

There’s no distance between users: speakers nor listeners. You can join your favourite experts or participate in discussions in smaller rooms at any time. What separates it from webinars and live streams is that you can be an active part of each conversation and share your thoughts and experience with others. That’s probably the reason that Clubhouse’s user base multiplied by 5 in January alone!

At the moment, Clubhouse is only available on iOS devices, and it’s not open to everyone. To become a user, you need an invitation from another person already registered in the app. This sense of exclusivity is one of the factors that makes Clubhouse so unique.

Edit from May 28th, 2021: Clubhouse is now officially available on Android devices since May 21st, 2021.

How popular is Clubhouse?

The numbers themselves prove how popular this voice chat app has become. In December 2020, there were around 600k users in the app. At the beginning of February, you could find 6 million. By the end of February, it exceeded 10 million weekly active users.

Moreover, Clubhouse is already valued at $1 billion, up from $100 million in May 2020. At this point, over 180 organizations and venture capitalists have invested in Clubhouse. Being valued at $1 billion, Clubhouse is now considered a Unicorn startup that joins the ranks of Airbnb and Uber. In the AppStore’s “Social Networking” category, at one point Clubhouse was ranked 7th, falling just behind giants such as Facebook, Messenger, Discord and Telegram. These stats might probably grow even more when the founders decide to release the Android version they’ve been working on. 

Edit from May 28th, 2021: By April 2021, Clubhouse was downloaded almost 18.5 million times. Its value increased to $4 billion in a Series C funding. As mentioned above, the Android version is up and running.

What can you do in Clubhouse?

As a Clubhouse user, you have multiple ways to engage with the community. First, you can be a listener by entering various rooms based on your interests. Listening can offer many benefits, as Clubhouse users frequently host rooms where they exchange their knowledge, know-how and tips about a number of topics.

Second, you can actively participate in discussions or create your own rooms, thereby expanding your network, meeting new people, or presenting yourself as an expert. You can meet like-minded people and engage in conversations with those who disagree with you. This can offer exciting insight.

Last but not least, as with all social media platforms, you can focus on building your presence, growing your own account and gaining more followers. Especially now, since Clubhouse is still in beta mode, it’s much easier to find an audience that you can then move to your other channels and convert into clients.

Must-have features for Clubhouse-like mobile app development

Must-have features for Clubhouse-like mobile app development

From this point on, we’ll treat this voice chat app as a product you can build. The Clubhouse app is akin to radio or a club (in this case, you have conversations instead of music) with a social application.

Once you open the app, you’ll see the following features:

  • a search bar where you can look for users and clubs
  • the number of invitations you can send to your friends
  • a timetable where you can see all the events in the app, categorized into “all events” and “your events”
  • notifications that inform you about your new followers and new rooms of people you follow
  • your personal profile
  • a list of upcoming events you follow
  • a list of events happening at the moment
  • the possibility to create your own room: private or public
  • your list of contacts and their availability

From the technical perspective, the app is made of:

  • the front-end of the mobile application (iOS and Android),
  • the back-end that manages the logic of the app,
  • (probably) the admin panel that allows for moderating the users and the content.

How much does it cost to make an app like Clubhouse?

How much does it cost to make an app like Clubhouse?

As you may already know from our blog, we like to challenge ourselves to calculate how much a specific type of app might cost. Of course, that doesn’t mean the price discussed in this article is the exact budget you need. Each project has individual requirements that influence the final cost of the app. But here are our thoughts and an example estimation.

Was going iOS-only a good idea?

We’ve asked itCraft’s co-founder Karol to tell us what he thinks about Clubhouse. At first, he wanted to highlight the fact that startups should focus on the product and its essential features from the very beginning, especially if they’re going to verify the idea and test it on the market. In Clubhouse’s case, they couldn’t predict their big “boom” and investing in two apps for Android and iOS would consume more resources than they would expect. Scalability can always be added later, but the testing phase is crucial.

He also suggested that choosing a cross-platform framework might be an excellent solution for many startup owners that want to build their audience on both operating systems at once. We recommend using Flutter because it offers splendid functionality and visually appealing UIs. Check out our ebook that explains the difference between native and cross-platform development.

Overall, Karol thinks Clubhouse’s decision to start with iOS only wasn’t a bad idea. That being said, if they want to grow their business, they should hurry up and create an Android app.

Edit from May 28th, 2021: Android version was released a year after the iOS launch. That’s a long time but it is yet to be seen how it will influence the popularity of Clubhouse. 

Clubhouse app – technical aspects

We decided to create an example estimation for a Clubhouse-like app available on both systems at once. DISCLAIMER: This doesn’t mean that we claim this is how much the creators paid to get Clubhouse done. Remember that they created an app for iOS only to test the product with real users. We’re only presenting a similar solution with similar features dedicated to both iOS and Android.

Clubhouse doesn’t diverge a lot from early versions of Instagram or Facebook, making it a classic example of a social media app. Its social features include profile registration and edition, user search, following, content creation (in this case, opening chat rooms) and event invitations. It’s a mobile-first app that doesn’t have a web equivalent.

From the technical side, the whole product starts with the back-end. That’s where the business logic is stored. It’s responsible for the data processing for all social media features mentioned above. Core functionality provides a possibility for users to interact in real-time. This module is similar to the ones we know from remote work applications that allow people to call each other (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet). It’s not a significant innovation. The only difference is that the interface doesn’t include video calls, only audio. Still, it can be challenging in terms of scalability – the app has to handle hundreds or even thousands of live conversations at once.

There are several ways to introduce such a solution into a mobile app. One option is to process all audio streams via the server, which can be overwhelming in the case of the sudden, enormous popularity of the product. Still, it can be reliable for some projects – we know from experience. We’ve implemented something similar in the UNITI app, a digital product for the travel industry. It’s a voice-based software for travel guides used to communicate with tourists, and it’s an excellent alternative to ordinary headsets. In UNITI, guides open “rooms”, just like in Clubhouse.

The team needed for Clubhouse mobile app development

Now, let’s talk more about the team, which is crucial in any software development project.

To create two native Android and iOS digital products, you need four developers – two for each app. If you want to follow a different path and create an app for just one platform or build a cross-platform solution, this part of the team could be slightly smaller.

For the back-end, we would recommend four specialists and three or four testers to assure quality and prevent defects. They need to be engaged in the project from the very beginning to ensure there are no bugs that could escalate from the early stages of production. 

Of course, every client that collaborates with us gets a dedicated project manager. It’s the middleman between the product owner and the team. Their duties include communication, organizing meetings, keeping everyone up to date with the project’s progress and reacting to crises.

Having two designers – one UX and one UI – means we can create an excellent user experience reflected in the user interface. Visual aesthetics, usability and accessibility are crucial.

Additionally, we could invite one DevOps to the team if the project required it.

So how much does an app like Clubhouse cost?

We would predict that the app production process could last approximately 5-8 months. With the $50 hourly rate and the team composition we discussed, the project would cost approximately $600-800K.

Check out the table below for a detailed estimation:

Summary

Clubhouse is a rapidly growing product that’s already gained millions of users. People fell in love with these newly discovered audio discussions. The possibility to talk about various topics with experts and amateurs where people can share their thoughts no matter how many followers they have is very much appreciated. Since the app is relatively young, it is easier to speak up and present yourself to other users. There are also many themed rooms welcoming a variety of people. It’s a medium for all, even though it’s still platform-exclusive and invite-only at this point.

The possibility that well-known social media players will try to create a similar solution is relatively high. There’s also a chance that competition will arise. Clubhouse can be a market leader, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the only one. They’ve built something unique, although it might be a challenge for them if someone does it better.

Edit from May 28th, 2021: At the beginning of May Twitter released Spaces, which is a similar solution to Clubhouse and is gaining a lot of recognition.

So it is possible to build a similar mobile application. You can utilize similar features in a bigger project or try to give the users something more – the decision is all yours.

If you’re looking for an IT partner that will help you develop Clubhouse-like software, contact us. We have experience in audio-based apps and robust digital products. Our team of experts can transform your idea into something spectacular. Let’s work together!

Contact us regarding your Clubhouse-like software idea


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