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Signal: How much it costs to run a messenger app

Signal: How much it costs to run a messenger app
Signal: How much it costs to run a messenger app
Under the headline "Privacy is Priceless, but Signal is Expensive", non-commercial messenger Signal provides interesting insights into the infrastructure of a messenger app and its costs.

In a blog post, Signal, which is known to be data protection-friendly, has published figures on the running costs of its messenger service. Accordingly, the developers estimate the costs for the technical infrastructure alone at USD 14 million for the current year (as of November 2023). For 2025 they are even anticpating an increase to USD 50 million. And these amounts are said to be far below what the large, profit-oriented messenger services cost.

It is also interesting to see the breakdown of these costs:

  • Storage: $1.3 million per year
  • Servers: $2.9 million per year
  • Registration fees: $6 million per year
  • Total bandwidth: $2.8 million per year.
  • Additional services: $700,000 per year.

In addition to technical infrastructure, personnel costs for the approximately 50 full-time employees must be added, which amount to around USD 19 million. The costs for Signal are lower than those of its major competitor WhatsApp, not only because of the number of users, because the latter also stores and processes significantly more user data.

The number of Signal users worldwide is estimated to be in the mid to double-digit million range. According to a consumer survey by the German Federal Network Agency (2023), 92% of all messenger users in Germany use WhatsApp. At least 14% (also) use Signal. In between are the meta services Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct Messages. Threema, which is also considered data protection-friendly, only accounts for 5%.

In the blog post, each item is further broken down and the reasons given. The developers also use the information to draw attention to the possibility of donating via the Signal website or the app. Anyone interested in finding out more about the costs and structures of the Signal messenger service can read the full blog entry.


Signal blog entry, German Federal Network Agency Consumer Survey 2023 (in German)

Image: Screenshot Google Play Store (Signal)

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Christian Hintze, 2023-11-18 (Update: 2023-11-18)