Super Apps: A Useful Discussion

December 7, 2022

Super apps are the equivalent of popping up a level. Think about Microsoft Word. Word became part of Office. Then Office became Office 365 and includes video functions and a number of baby apps like games. (Great for productivity, right?) The idea is that umbrellas are built to make multiple apps into one big, seamless app. The objective is to make life easier, faster, and cheaper. No one says, “Pick any two.” Few raise questions about centralization, monopolization, or termination of innovation.

Could We Have One App for Everything? We Ask an Expert” does raise a handful of interesting points. Among the topics addressed are [a] Chinese vendors’ interest in super apps, [b] risk of centralization of large amounts of personal data, and [c] the appeal of convenience.

I want to focus on one point in the cited article. The write up quotes Esther Dyson who allegedly said, “The last example of successful convergence was the clock radio. Everything else has been a bad compromise.”

But what’s been lost? The write up does not probe Ms. Dyson’s thought. How about a few ideas?

  1. Meta plays can generate oodles of cash because the appeal of new, improved, and easy are what some call “thirst traps.” Meta makes the modern world go round because monopolies are good.
  2. More information means more opportunities to monetize user information. Money is good.
  3. Super apps facilitate concentration. Concentration means engineering efficiency. Efficiency yields alleged cost savings. Money is good.

Based on my understanding of the meta play benefits, super apps are inevitable. Now think about a Telegram-type service just for cyber crime.

Stephen E Arnold, December 7, 2022

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