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Here Comes the Super App

Here Comes the Super App

The phenomenon of the ‘Super app’ allows users to access a number of features that would typically only be available through multiple stand alone native apps.

In this blog post we will examine what a super app is and to what extent it should be seen as a threat or an opportunity.

Finally, we look into how companies should respond to super apps.

A super app combines a number of features

The world has long been following the Chinese super app WeChat: the equivalent of a Swiss army knife for apps combining many functions into one single app.

The benefits are obvious to users: They can translate messages into multiple languages, talk on the phone, share pictures, pay for various services and order a taxi all through just one service.

However, it is uncertain whether we will have a super app dominating the West the same way WeChat dominates in China.

In August last year, The Economist wrote an article examining the foundation for WeChat’s success in China. The article argued that the unique technological landscape of China set the stage for WeChat to take flight.

This is despite the fact that China has a healthy skepticism as a society and that the Chinese internet is a hub for cybercrime and malware, which could present challenges for software that gathers and stores massive amounts of data in one place.

The data accumulation creates huge benefits for advertisers, though, as they gain insight into how the user spends money, whom they interact with, what the communication is about, when it occurs and why.

But the question remains whether Western users and lawmakers will allow one provider to house so much personal data.

The most likely candidate for a super app in the West is Facebook Messenger, which in April last year, opened up for other companies to offer their services through so-called ‘bots’.

Currently, Messenger integrates with various solutions like weather services, games and news.

In September 2016, Facebook announced that they had added a beta version of a ‘buy’-button for the American market.

This marks the beginning of a new revenue avenue for the retail industry and others who wish to sell their products through Messenger.

Through the purchasing function in Messenger, a Facebook user can see an ad, press ‘Buy’, be redirected to Messenger, and then buy the product, all without leaving Facebook.

This video shows how Rayban plans on utilising the opportunities made available in Facebook Messenger: https://vimeo.com/174790467

The potential is great and we need to keep our eyes open for Messenger-like apps. With their huge user base, they are the most natural candidates for becoming the super app of the West.

Business Insider recently wrote that the four largest messaging apps WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger and Viber total more users than the four largest social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn combined.

More industries should consider a super app

What does the emergence of super apps mean for British companies developing apps and working towards increased knowledge, penetration, downloads, use frequency and recommendations?

As more open competition develops and boundaries between traditional industries are broken down, we experience an increased interest in creating some sort of super app that will collect services across markets, industries and borders.

Utility apps, like banking, weather or taxi services are especially suitable, but there are also opportunities within gaming, lifestyle, loyalty, content and media.

Another direction is to take advantage of other super apps, like Facebook Messenger and use them as a platform for displaying your own content or services.

Try adding Wall Street Journal or Quartz to your Messenger app.

Help clarifying:  5 strategic questions

Here at Nodes, we currently have multiple app projects where the client has requested that part of the native app is integrated with Facebook Messenger.

What direction should you go? There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question. But here are a couple of questions to consider.

  • Who are your customers and what media and apps are they using?
  • Should you own the data gathered from the user journey?
  • Is there a core feature that you could integrate with Facebook Messenger?
  • Would it create value for the user and your business to collect more apps or functions into one super app? A sort of one-stop shop.
  • Are there existing rules and regulations that would be relevant for your business in relation to super apps?

Do you need someone to talk through whether a super app is the right solution for you? Let us have a chat about your next step.

Laus Breyen-Vinding
Client Services Director

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