Signal Will Cost $50 Million Per Year to Run

Meredith Whittaker and Joshua Lund, writing for the Signal blog back in November:

Instead of monetizing surveillance, we’re supported by donations, including a generous initial loan from Brian Acton. Our goal is to move as close as possible to becoming fully supported by small donors, relying on a large number of modest contributions from people who care about Signal. We believe this is the safest form of funding in terms of sustainability: ensuring that we remain accountable to the people who use Signal, avoiding any single point of funding failure, and rejecting the widespread practice of monetizing surveillance.

But our nonprofit structure doesn’t mean it costs less for Signal to produce a globally distributed communications app. Signal is a nonprofit, but we’re playing in a lane dominated by multi-billion-dollar corporations that have defined the norms and established the tech ecosystem, and whose business models directly contravene our privacy mission. So in order to provide a genuinely useful alternative, Signal spends tens of millions of dollars every year. We estimate that by 2025, Signal will require approximately $50 million dollars a year to operate — and this is very lean compared to other popular messaging apps that don’t respect your privacy.

Signal funds itself through voluntary donations. Most of its competitors are funded through advertising. But iMessage is funded through device sales. If it costs $50 million per year to operate Signal, I’d guess it costs Apple more than that to run iMessage.

I know the Beeper thing is last month’s news, but the fact that iMessage costs a lot of money to operate is generally overlooked by those who think Apple should be forced to “open it up”, whatever that might mean.

Wednesday, 24 January 2024