What is a “multipurpose app” and why does Elon Musk want to create one?

By Sheila Dang

(Reuters) – Why is Elon Musk suddenly thinking about creating a “multipurpose app” and what does it mean?

The question arose on Tuesday after the billionaire CEO of Tesla Inc reversed his earlier decision not to buy Twitter Inc. Musk is now set to go ahead with his original plan to buy the social media company for $44 billion. and on Tuesday night he tweeted, “Buying Twitter is an accelerator to create X, the app for everything.”

The concept of a multi-purpose app, often referred to as a “super app”, is hugely popular in Asia, and tech companies around the world have tried to replicate it.

WHAT IS A GREAT APP?

A super app, or what Musk calls a “full app”, has been described as the Swiss army knife of mobile apps, offering a suite of services for users such as messaging, social media, peer-to-peer payments and e-commerce shopping.

These mega apps are widely used in Asia because mobile is the primary form of internet access for many people in the region, wrote Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at New York University and co-host of the tech podcast. “Pivot”, last year. .

WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF GREAT APPS?

Chinese super app WeChat has more than one billion monthly users, according to an estimate, and is an integral part of daily life in China. Users can hail a car or taxi, send money to friends and family, or make payments in stores. In 2018, some Chinese cities began testing WeChat for an electronic ID system that would be linked to user accounts, according to the South China Morning Post.

Grab, a leading Southeast Asian super app, offers food delivery, carpooling, on-demand parcel delivery, as well as financial and investment services.

WHY DOES MUSK WANT TO CREATE A GREAT APP?

During a Q&A session with Twitter employees in June, Musk noted that there was no equivalent to a super app like WeChat outside of Asia.

“You basically live on WeChat in China,” he said, adding that he saw an opportunity to create such an app.

Adding more tools and services to Twitter could also help Musk achieve his lofty growth goals for the company. During the Q&A with employees, Musk said he wants Twitter to grow from its 237 million users to “at least a billion.”

Musk and members of his entourage have sent multiple text messages about the idea of ​​adding digital payments to Twitter, according to posts during the discovery phase of the litigation between Musk and the social media company.

HAVE OTHER US TECH COMPANIES TRIED?

Yes, Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc, previously introduced peer-to-peer payments called Snapcash, but ended the feature in 2018. It also made inroads into mobile gaming and recently ended this company as part of cost reduction plans.

Meta Platform Inc’s Facebook and Instagram have also attempted to expand beyond social media and messaging into e-commerce.

(Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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