Mehul Reuben DasDec 27, 2022 21:34:19 IST
Although it is not exactly a new concept, super apps are set to make a comeback in 2023, not just in India, but in a number of other countries as well. App developers and studios have realised that in order to get more and more users onto their platforms, super apps will be essential.
A super app is a mobile application that offers a wide range of services and functions, often including social networking, messaging, e-commerce, ride-hailing, and other features. These apps are designed to be a one-stop-shop for users, providing them with access to a wide range of services and functions from within a single app.
Super apps are popular in countries such as China, Indonesia, and Singapore, where they have become a dominant force in the mobile market due to their convenience and versatility.
Some examples of super apps include WeChat – which is extremely popular in China and is used by people for practically everything from online payments, booking a cab, instant messaging, ordering food, booking tickets etc, – Gojek, which is extremely popular in Indonesia, and Grab, which has a significant hold over Singapore.
Even in India, we have a few apps that have tried to turn into an “everything app” or a super app, but to varying degrees of success. The best example that we can think of will have to be PayTM. While a few years ago, it was just another platform to get talktime and internet plans for your cellular connections topped up, the app today has become a portal of sorts to pay for all kinds of things – from your credit card bill, rent, electricity bill to a medium to pay your local kirana stores. The app also allows you to pay for challans in certain cities, and will also let you book tickets for trains, flights and movies.
Super apps are popular in certain regions of the world, particularly south-east Asia, but they have not gained as much traction in other parts of the world. There are a few reasons why this may be the case.
One reason is that the market for mobile apps is very competitive, and there may already be a large number of apps that offer similar services to those found in super apps. This can make it difficult for a new super app to gain a foothold in the market.
Another reason is that the business model for super apps may not be as well-suited to certain markets. For example, super apps often rely on monetising their user base through in-app purchases and advertising, which may not be as effective in markets with lower disposable income levels.
Additionally, the regulatory environment in certain markets may need to be more conducive to the development of super apps. For example, there may be restrictions on the types of services that can be offered through a single app, or there may be barriers to entry that make it difficult for a new super app to enter the market.
It’s difficult to say whether super apps are making a comeback, as they have never really gone away in the regions where they are popular. However, it is possible that super apps may see increased adoption in other parts of the world as the trend towards convenience and consolidation continues.
One reason for this is that super apps offer a range of services and functions within a single app, which can be convenient for users who want access to multiple services without having to download and manage multiple apps. This can be especially appealing for users who are looking for a more streamlined and efficient way to access the services they need.
Additionally, the rise of e-commerce and digital payments has made it easier for super apps to offer a wide range of services within a single app, as users can make purchases and transactions directly within the app. This has helped to drive the popularity of super apps in certain regions, and it may continue to do so in the future.
What will really push the development of super apps across the world though, are Microsoft and Elon Musk’s Project X or X.com as it is sometimes referred to.
Microsoft lost the smartphone war to Apple and Google and has been desperately trying to get its footing back. In order to do this, they are considering developing a “super app” that would offer services like search, shopping, messaging and news.
In addition to boosting the tech giant’s ad business, Microsoft executives hope such an app could help bolster its Bing search engine and drive more people to Microsoft tools like Teams.
Although Google and Apple’s ecosystem currently work well, and already come with all the features in-built that a person might need, these functions and features are scattered across apps. As a result, no matter how well these apps are integrated to the ecosystem, jumping from one app to the other, setting them up, kills the seamless user experience that mobile developers are aiming for.
Elon Musk’s Project X, on the other hand, will be something similar to what WeChat does. Musk essentially views X.com as a global WeChat and not restricted to a particular country.
“WeChat is actually a good model. If you’re in China, you kind of live on WeChat. It does everything. It’s sort of like Twitter plus PayPal plus a whole bunch of other things all rolled into one with actually a great interface,” Musk said on the All-In the technology podcast, back in May. “And we don’t have anything like that outside of China. So I think such an app would be really useful.”