Super apps are mobile applications that combine several services. They keep the user within a single ecosystem of the services of a particular company. Most often these are mobile banking, lifestyle, delivery of goods, taxi ordering, and personal services.

The term “super app” was first coined by Mike Lazaridis, the founder of BlackBerry. According to him, a super app is a closed ecosystem where many apps exist simultaneously.

The first mobile apps were simple: one service in one app. This approach was easy to explain, and in many ways contributed to the fact that the app ecosystems reached unprecedented sizes. But at the same time, the number of apps installed on every smartphone is starting to go beyond the reasonable. It is unrealistic to install all messengers that are available in an app store on a single device.

Super apps help the user not only clear the smartphone’s memory of digital junk but also make the use of digital services convenient. It is easier and faster to navigate between options within a super app than to switch between multiple apps. At the same time, the super app adjusts to the user’s behaviour. For example, on the start screen, it can offer a taxi on a frequent route or help with ordering food from your favourite restaurant.

Benefits of Super Apps

Super apps have a huge potential to change mobile marketing. On the one hand, they narrow down the playing field for standard apps, and this can lead to businesses and niche services losing their users. However, they allow smaller companies to enter the market with in-house super app products, which are much easier and faster to develop.

Game companies have been publishing mini versions of their games as applets in super apps for a long time. This strategy gives them a new channel to acquire users, and users of mini-programs eventually turn into users of the full version of the product.

Super apps are changing the very nature of user acquisition. For many companies, app installs will no longer be the first metric. Users will use their products because they are already available in the super app.

Registrations will also become obsolete, and it will be necessary to rethink what counts as user churn. This is because there is no such thing as deleting a super app – users can remain in it as long as they want, but perform completely different tasks.

Examples of Super Apps

The first super apps were founded in Asia, however, the Western app markets have also adopted this trend. Let’s take a look at the most famous examples of super apps in different parts of the world.

Asia: WeChat, Alipay, Grab, Line, Gojek

The Chinese messenger WeChat, launched in 2011, is the main reference point for the creators of super apps. China banned other instant messengers and online platforms like WhatsApp or Facebook. As a result, WeChat combined financial, government, and household services. Here you can communicate, apply to government agencies or apply for a loan, and pay for goods and services.

In the first three years, WeChat was earning about $7 per user. As of Q1 2021, the app has reached 1.24 billion users

WeChat has become a platform for many brands and online stores, including international ones. Here you can buy wholesale and retail, rent, book, play games, or consult a doctor. Each developer can create their own mini-app based on WeChat for iOS or Android. In the mini-apps section, you can even order food from McDonald’s. The super app also features WeChat Go, a travel service used by 120 million overseas Chinese tourists annually.

The Chinese payment system Alipay, owned by Alibaba, is also built into the ecosystem. Through it, you can pay for goods and services, including mobile communications and financial services. Like WeChat, you can pay with Alipay by scanning a QR code.

But the most interesting detail is that Alipay collects user transaction data and transfers it to Ant Financial. Based on these data, a special rating is formed, on which many things depend: the chances of obtaining a loan, access to public services, and even flying abroad. Such social credit system is an example of what the future can hold for us if all apps and services start integrating with each other.

Another Asian super app is the logistics service Grab in Singapore. In the app, you can order a taxi, deliver food and parcels, rent a bike or scooter, get a loan, and pay for goods and services. Now the company is introducing online medicine and insurance services. Grab is available in eight Asian countries and has 144 million users. Grab has recently partnered with online movie theatre HOOQ, making it Netflix’s top competitor in Asia.

The Japanese messenger Line with 86 million active users is also creating a super app with a payment and credit system, built-in third-party mini-apps (like WeChat), food delivery, and logistics for restaurants.

The Indonesian app Gojek also integrates 18 services for courier delivery, taxi, online shopping, food delivery, and ordering services. As of 2020, the app reached 38 million total users across Southeast Asia.

USA: Uber, Google, Facebook

The Western market is arranged differently. Apps and services here have to constantly compete with each other. So far, Uber and Google have come closest to creating super apps. But unlike WeChat, they are widely distributed across the world.

With the help of Uber services, it is already possible to call a taxi and car-sharing (including drones), order food and goods delivery, and make payments. In October 2019, the company took the first step toward a super app: now in some regions, you can order both a taxi and food delivery through Uber Taxi. Later, car sharing and other transport were also included here.

To conquer the Asian market, Uber acquired some of the business from Grab and Careem. As a result, the payment services Uber Money and Uber Wallet appeared. Later, the service was integrated with the Apple Pay and Google Pay systems. Drivers, couriers, and customers of Uber services are connected to Uber Wallet. 

In Google Maps, you can get directions and plan regular trips – for example, from home to work; book tours, hotels, and flights; book tables in restaurants; order food; call a taxi and other transport from Uber. Available options vary by country. 

Instagram, with the help of Facebook’s recent rebranding to Meta, is also evolving into a super app. It is a separate digital ecosystem, a place where you can shop, order a taxi or rent a car, chat with friends and make an appointment with a doctor. 

5 Tips to Make a Supper App Successful

The development of a super app is a very difficult task for a business. It should not only have the necessary set of services that are provided to consumers through a mobile app but also have a technological platform that can ensure its operation. Here are some tips that you can use to develop a successful super app or turn your existing app into one:

  • Personalization. Each user has their own set of favourite and useful services. If they do not get access to them with a single tap, they will go to where it will be easier and faster to use the necessary services.
  • Announcement of changes. If you want to turn your app into a super app, do not hurry. Add the super app features gradually, so that the users get used to them. Such an approach allows you to smoothly change the user experience without forcing people to abruptly switch to a new, unfamiliar system.
  • Informational security. The list of user data that the app collects must be open, relevant to the app’s tasks, and, of course, not be transferred to third parties.
  • High quality. Users still install apps to solve their problems. No matter how well the app is made, without high quality and good customer service, it will not receive any positive reviews. Before you start developing, make sure that your proposal meets the needs of the target audience.
  • Minimalism. Do not overload your super app with all kinds of services. Add only those that your audience needs. You can ask them beforehand in the form of polls and questionnaires.

Over to You

Super apps are apps that unite many helpful functions in one place. The most known examples are the Asian apps – WeChat, Alipay, Grab, Line, and Gojek. Uber, Google, and Facebook are now also following the trend of uniting many apps in one.

A super app is one of the easiest user acquisition and engagement tools because it is more convenient to use a single app with many services than switch between multiple apps. However, do not overload your app with lots of functionality; add only those features that your users really need. Good luck!