Superapps are not convenient, so why pursue?

By Waseem Khan, CFA

Head of Research

EDGE Research & Consulting

Posted on: 20 Feb, 2023

We keep seeing pitches for various types of “super app” aspirants. Well, it sure would be great if you could do everything better than everyone else, but this is rarely feasible. Beyond the gold rush, there are a few issues that consistently get overlooked.


It works only if you are super early: The only real super app around is probably WeChat, this was launched way back in 2011 when the Chinese app ecosystem was super nascent (international apps were mostly blocked). Because WeChat was so ahead of the curve, it became the way users got acquainted to the internet (similar to Google), eventually becoming something of an Android/IOS landing page of sorts. If WeChat were to launch today, this would not be possible simply because there are so many excellent standalone apps which do their work extremely efficiently.


“Superapps” in post WeChat era are “clustered apps”: In the post WeChat era, what we mostly see are apps which offer a similar cluster of service into one app, i.e. "transport superapp", "payments superapp", one dude on a bicycle superapp (food delivery, grocery, parcels) etc. What keeps these apps going is usually one or two key services where they excel. This is quite different compared to the likes of WeChat which has integrated some pretty wild stuff into one app.


They are not convenient: Let’s say you want to access something using a “super app”, you will invariably end up in a landing page which asks you to select which service you want, hence two taps are needed before you reach your service point in the app. In contrast, if you were using standalone apps, you could directly land into your service point with just one tap. It gets worse if the superapp in question has like 10 functions while you only ever use 3, leading to 7 unnecessary apps you never use which further clutters the interface.


Do people really want fewer apps? Kind of hard to buy into this when in reality people have multiple apps for a single use case instead of having one app for multiple use cases. I consider myself a light user, and I have 3 video conferencing apps (teams, zoom, meet), 3 food delivery apps (foodpanda, pathao, domino’s), 2 grocery delivery apps (chaldal, foodpanda) and 2 ride hailing apps (uber, pathao).


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  • superapp, super app, weChat, foodpanda, pathao, domino's, uber, chaldal