The age of Super Apps
In today’s digital age, competition in the mobile app market is fierce. However, a new trend is emerging that is shaking things up even more: super apps. These all-in-one apps are not just changing the way we use our smartphones, but they are also changing the way companies compete in the app market. Super apps offer a wide range of services and features, allowing companies to stand out by providing a more comprehensive experience for their customers. But as more and more companies jump on the super app bandwagon, the competition is only going to get tougher.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the rise of super apps and some its implications for the future that awaits us.
As you read through my posts on emerging tech, my hope is that they will spark your interest in the topic and inspire you to learn more on your own. I will provide you with an overview of the latest developments in the field and give you examples of how these technologies are being used in the real world. My goal is to give you a sense of the potential impact that these technologies will have on our society and economy, and encourage you to explore the topic further. To help you in your journey, I will suggest some useful resources like articles, websites and other materials that can help you to explore the subject more in-depth.
Super apps 101
The term “super app” was first coined by BlackBerry founder Mike Lazaridis in 2010, referring to a closed ecosystem of various apps that provide a seamless, integrated, and efficient experience. In essence, it is a marketplace of services and offerings, delivered through in-house technology and third-party integrations. However, in recent years, the term has become closely associated with the rise of Chinese super apps such as WeChat and Alipay, which offer a wide range of services and features within a single app.
One of the most well-known examples of a super app is WeChat, a Chinese app that began as a messaging service but has since expanded to include features such as mobile payments, ride-hailing, and online shopping. Another example is Gojek, a popular Indonesian app that offers services such as food delivery, ride-hailing, and online shopping.
The rise of super apps
Until today super apps have been more popular in Asia, compared to other regions, due to a combination of factors, including the widespread use of smartphones and mobile internet, the growth of the gig economy, and cultural preferences.
Firstly, the widespread use of smartphones and mobile internet in Asia has made it easier for people to access a wide range of services and information through a single device. This has led to an increase in demand for all-in-one apps that can provide easy access to multiple services.
Secondly, the growth of the gig economy and the increase in on-demand services in Asia has led to a greater demand for super apps that can provide easy access to multiple services, such as ride-hailing and food delivery.
Lastly, cultural preferences also play a role in the popularity of super apps in Asia. In countries like China and Indonesia, people tend to use their smartphones for a wide range of activities, including socializing and making payments. Super apps like WeChat and Gojek have been able to tap into this cultural preference and provide a convenient, integrated experience for customers.
The popularity of super apps in Asia, characterized by the widespread use of smartphones and mobile internet, the growth of the gig economy, and cultural preferences, is now spreading to the Western regions. Recently Gartner included super apps in the tech trends for 2023. Gartner expects that by 2027, more than 50% of the global population will be daily active users of multiple super apps. The supe rapp concept will also expand to include enterprise mobile and desktop experiences, such as workflow, collaboration and messaging platforms.
A recent example of this trend is the announcement by entrepreneur Elon Musk that he plans to turn Twitter into a super app, offering a wider range of services and features beyond social media.
All the above are strong tailwinds allowing super apps to gain momentum globally.
Hyperscaling is the ability to quickly and efficiently scale a business to meet the needs of a rapidly growing customer base. Super apps can be an effective tool for companies looking to hyperscale their business.
Super apps offer a wide range of services and features all within a single app, rather than requiring users to download and use multiple apps for different tasks. These apps can provide significant economies of scale for companies that develop and use them.
One key benefit is the ability to generate new revenue streams by offering multiple services within a single app. For example, an app that originally focused on ride-hailing could expand to offer food delivery, mobile payments, and other services, allowing the company to tap into new markets and revenue sources. This can help companies to increase their revenue and grow their business.
Another benefit is the ability to reduce customer acquisition costs by offering a wider range of services and features. A super app that offers multiple services can attract new customers and increase retention, which can help to reduce the need for expensive customer acquisition campaigns. Super apps can also provide valuable data and insights on customer behavior and preferences. By offering multiple services within a single app, companies can gain a more comprehensive view of their customers and use this data to improve their services and target marketing efforts more effectively. This can help to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
Building a Super app
The road to success for super apps is not without obstacles. Let’s delve into the main challenges that super apps face and how they can be addressed.
Developing a super app requires a significant investment in technology and resources. Super apps are not just a simple app, they are an ecosystem of multiple services and features, this means that the development process is more complex and requires a wide range of technical skills and expertise. This includes expertise in areas such as mobile app development, data management, user experience design, and security. Additionally, developing a super app also requires a significant investment in infrastructure and servers to support the multiple services and features offered within the app. This includes servers for data storage, servers for handling real-time transactions, and servers for handling a large number of users. Furthermore, super apps require a constant investment in maintenance, updates and new features, this is to ensure that the app remains user-friendly, secure and up-to-date with the latest technologies.
All in all, the development of a super app is a complex and costly process that requires a significant investment in technology and resources. This can be a significant barrier for smaller companies or startups that may not have the same resources and technical expertise as larger companies.
Regulations, privacy and a lot more
Super apps, due to the nature of the services they provide, face regulatory challenges. Super apps that offer financial services, such as mobile payments, may be subject to stricter regulations and compliance requirements. These regulations may vary from country to country and can be difficult to navigate. For example, super apps that offer mobile payments may be subject to the same regulations as traditional banks and other financial institutions. This can include compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) regulations, as well as data privacy and security regulations. Additionally, super apps that offer services such as ride-hailing, food delivery, and e-commerce may also be subject to regulations specific to those industries. These can include regulations related to worker rights, consumer protection, and data privacy. Compliance with these regulations can be costly and time-consuming, and non-compliance can result in significant fines and penalties. Furthermore, the process of obtaining licenses and permits required to operate in certain jurisdictions can be lengthy and complex.
In summary, super apps face regulatory challenges due to the nature of the services they provide, such as mobile payments and other financial services, ride-hailing, food delivery, and e-commerce. These regulations may vary from country to country, and can be costly and time-consuming to navigate.
Super apps also face competition from other super apps, as well as from traditional apps that focus on specific services. This can make it difficult for a super app to stand out and attract users. For example, a super app that offers ride-hailing and food delivery services may face competition from other super apps that also offer these services, such as Gojek or Grab. Additionally, the super app may also face competition from traditional ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, as well as from food delivery apps like GrubHub and DoorDash. The competition from other super apps and traditional apps can make it difficult for a super app to differentiate and attract users. To stand out, a super app must offer unique features and services that are not available on other apps. This can include exclusive partnerships, unique features, or a superior user experience.
As the trend of super apps is on the rise, more and more companies will jump on the bandwagon, this will lead to a more intense competition in the market. To stand out, a super app must offer unique features and services that are not available on other apps. It’s a fair guess to assume that competition in the market will become more intense.
Overall, super apps face a range of challenges, including significant investment in technology and resources, regulatory challenges, data privacy and security, competition, and user experience and engagement.
The future ahead
Super apps are shaking up the mobile app industry and are set to revolutionize the way we use our smartphones. They offer a wide range of services and features all within a single app, making them a convenient and integrated experience for customers. While they face challenges, such as the significant investment in technology and resources, regulatory challenges, data privacy and security, competition, and user experience and engagement, they are here to stay and will be a hot topic in the mobile app industry in the future.
Some of the big questions are, will super apps be able to overcome these challenges and dominate the app market? How will companies adapt to this new trend and what will be the impact on the mobile app industry in the long run? The answers are yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure, the development and evolution of super apps will be a fascinating journey to watch.
It’s an exciting time for the mobile app industry and I can’t wait to see how super apps will change the way we interact with our devices and change our daily life.