By Cathleen Cusachs
What if we could open one phone app and access messages, social media feeds, food delivery, rideshare services, and even our bank? China’s WeChat, a “super app,” does all this and more. Super apps include functions across a wide spread of daily life. Alex Heath from The Verge predicts their rise is only just beginning.
“Becoming a super app is mainly about becoming more integrated into people’s lives and maintaining a grip on their attention,” he writes. WeChat helped popularize this technology, though it started originally as a messaging app. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are itching towards it, having begun to expand into shopping and retail. But, Heath says Western apps like these still have a lot of catching up to do.
When an app becomes a super app, they have access to data they otherwise wouldn’t. For instance, currently, if Facebook wants to know users’ ride sharing habits, they would have to turn to a ride sharing app. Adding ride sharing features into their own platform would give them ownership over similar data. Therefore, Heath predicts that the biggest threats to super apps’ future dominance are regulators and their increased scrutiny on tech companies.
Regardless, WeChat— which contains millions of mini-apps— is dominating the field. The future of other potential super apps remains to be seen. Read Alex Heath’s full analysis here.