Andy Heriaud Written by Andy Heriaud 4 min read

Stream Alternatives: comparing Stream to their competitors

Chat APIs are everywhere these days, and while that’s by and large great news for product teams everywhere, it does mean product managers have a lot of options to sort out. At Weavy we’ve spent a lot of time researching the competition, and in this series we’re sharing what we’ve learned to help you make the right decision for your product.

Stream compare

Stream at a glance

Based on their aggressive bidding strategy in search ads, Stream is aiming to position themselves as one of the top names in Chat API. Stream gives product teams an easy way to add in-app chat and activity feeds features to their app utilizing a Rest API that connects to Stream’s servers. 

 

Stream operates similarly to Stream competitors PubNub and Sendbird, where they provide subscribers with access and documentation for their APIs, while charging for hosting and support fees. One place where Stream seeks to stand out is through their comprehensive set of UI kits and front-end SDKs for various programming frameworks. However Stream doesn't let subscribers host their own Chat SDK, meaning that there’s zero opportunity for skilled developers to expand the functionality of in-app chat or activity feeds on the backend.

 

Stream’s Features

Though Stream primarily advertises chat, they have positioned themselves as a mobile first offering with a heavy focus on infrastructure. Working off this premise, they offer two primary types of services:

 

Stream Features:

  • Chat
  • Activity feeds

How Stream’s features compare

First, a quick breakdown of the features of Stream competitors.

 

PubNub Features:

  • In-app Chat
  • App alerts and notifications
  • Location tracking
  • Virtual collaboration
  • IoT (Internet of Things) device management
  • Data streaming and dashboards

 

Sendbird Features:

  • Chat
  • Calls
  • Virtual customer support

 

Weavy Features:

  • In-app chat
  • Activity feeds
  • Document collaboration

 

Stream’s alternatives each take a different approach to their feature offering. Sendbird desires to position themselves as the all-in-one communication platform, offering robust frontend support for chat, video calling, and customer support. PubNub offers a wide variety of data streaming and processing services without any clear focus on target customers other than “enterprise.” Weavy is focused on productivity and collaboration.

 

Stream’s primary focus seems to be on creating the most seamless user experience, the way they do this is by focusing primarily on two things: infrastructure and UI. Every time a user interacts with these features, an API call is made to the servers, which return the appropriate data. One of the biggest issues that arises in hosted services like this is latency. Every API call and response call has to travel from the end user to the server and back again. 

 

All data must physically travel to the server, and the farther the distance, the greater the latency. One way Stream tries to sidestep this problem is by employing a proprietary edge network. The easiest way to describe this without a 101 class on network infrastructure is that Stream employs a series of smaller servers closer to the location of their end users. In theory this means that the data doesn’t have to travel as far in either direction, creating a more instantaneous user experience and sidestepping the need for a dedicated server. Weavy seeks to circumvent this issue altogether by having the collaboration SDK hosted on the same instance as your app server.

 

Stream has done work to make their features easier to integrate through extensive documentation and UI Kits for a wide variety of platforms and frameworks.. This stands in stark contrast to Stream competitor Pubnub, which only offers that level of front-end support for their chat service. The Stream alternative that best matches their level of documentation and support is Weavy, who offer extensive and exhaustive tutorials for deploying all of their features, as well as a drop-in UI that allows developers to add collaboration features without having to design a front-end for them. 

 

Stream pricing

Similar to Stream’s alternatives, Stream operates on a multi-tiered pricing structure covering a large spread of price points and service tiers. These tiers each have a different name and levels of functionality. The biggest differentiators are how many Monthly Active Users (MAUs) are allowed.

 

Stream Prices:

Chat

$499/month for up to 10,000 users

$1299/month for up to 25,000 users

$2299/month for up to 50,000 users

 

Activity Feeds

$59/month for 400k API Calls

$269/month for 2M API Calls

$899/month for 10M API Calls

 

Once you exceed 50,000 MAU, you have no choice but to use Stream’s enterprise plan.

 

How Stream’s pricing compares

First, a quick breakdown of the price structure of Stream alternatives.

 

PubNub Starter Prices:

$49/month for up to 1,500 users

$249/month for up to 5,000 users

$499/month for up to 10,000 users



Sendbird Prices:

Developer Chat

Free for up to 100 users

Starter Chat

$399/month for up to 5,000 users

$499/month for up to 10,000 users

$1199/month for up to 25,000 users


Pro Chat

$599/month for up to 5,000 users

$749/month for up to 10,000 users

$1799/month for up to 25,000 users

 

Video Calls

Pay Per Call

 

Help Desk

Enterprise Pricing



Weavy Prices:

Chat

Free for unlimited  monthly active users and API calls


Starter (Chat + Activity Feeds + Document Collaboration)

$1299/month for unlimited monthly active users and API calls, up to 250 directories


Pro (Chat + Activity Feeds + Document Collaboration)

$2299/month for unlimited monthly active users and API calls, up to 1000 directories

 

Compared to Stream alternatives Sendbird and Pubnub, Stream’s pricing is fairly well aligned, however with one major caveat: they impose limits on concurrent MAUs, and those limits and the overages they charge scale with each pricing tier. What this means is that Stream only allows for a small percentage of your MAUs to be using their services at the same time. If this limit is exceeded, Stream charges overages for each concurrent user over the limit. Another big thing to factor in is that many quality of life features like Single Sign-on or SAML are limited to their Enterprise tier, meaning you’ll have to pay the most for the best user experience.

 

The clear standout by a wide margin is Weavy. In addition to offering in-app chat completely free, Weavy offers two paid tiers that don't impose limits on volume of API calls or MAUs, just the number of directories you app can use. Additionally, SSO and SAML work out of the box as Weavy is designed to match the authentication system of your app.

 

Is Stream the best fit for your product?

If you’re building a mobile first platform that requires low latency, enterprise class infrastructure for users all around the globe, Stream is a strong option with industry standard prices. Stream competitors Sendbird and PubNub offer a wider breadth of features, but each plays to different segments of the market, with PubNub focused on enterprise and Sendbird focused on B2C applications. 

 

But when your product team is interested in adding collaboration features to your platform, Stream’s offering is severely limited and will require heavy lifting when it comes to UI customization. Like Stream, Weavy offers Activity Feeds and In-App Chat. On the chat side of the equation, Stream doesn’t support third-party integrations that power users rely on, and in general Stream doesn’t give users a way to share or collaborate with files. So if you require a form of Document Collaboration, Weavy is the strongest choice.

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