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Rise of the super app

Verge | | Nov 1, 2021

super apps - Rise of the super appSocial media companies are increasingly super apps that encompass more of what we do online, for better or worse

Say you want to see Japanese Breakfast play in Sacramento next week with a couple of friends. The process of going requires jumping between at least a few apps — you might coordinate plans on WhatsApp, check out SoftGoza to learn how to download & use whatsapp, buy your tickets from Ticketmaster, book a ride through Uber, and pay each other back for drinks over Venmo.

But what if all that activity happened in one app on your phone?

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Over the next several years, I predict that the biggest social media companies around the world will become super apps, acting as gatekeepers to a wider array of things people do online. While they started as ways to mainly keep in contact with friends and family or be entertained, these social networks — Facebook, Snap, and TikTok, for example — will become increasingly important ways people shop, bank, and entertain themselves. Some of these firms that started in the US, such as Snapchat, are already starting to resemble super apps, even though they’re still primarily thought of as social networks.

The idea of the super app first gained popularity in China with WeChat, the messaging app that essentially acts as a platform for facilitating life online in the world’s most populous country. WeChat doesn’t just let you message your friends and see their updates in a feed; it can also be used to take out a loan to buy your next car. Commerce done through mini-apps that WeChat lets other developers build on its platform reached a staggering $240 billion last year alone, more than double from the previous year.

In the Western world, social media firms are playing catch-up. They’re morphing from single or dual-use case apps — messaging friends or browsing feeds of content — to encompass more and more of what people do online. Last year, Facebook started adding shopping features that keep users from needing to complete purchases elsewhere. The head of Instagram, which is part of Facebook’s family of apps, recently made headlines when he said the app was no longer primarily about sharing photos.

Becoming a super app is mainly about becoming more integrated into people’s live

See: 

Regulators worry tech giants ‘Too Big to Fail’ because they are hosted in the cloud

Lina Khan: The 32-year-old taking on Big Tech as new Chair of the US FTC

Lawmakers Take Aim at Big Tech with Push for Sweeping Overhaul of Antitrust

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