Musk Wants to Turn Twitter into an ‘Everything App’
If you ask someone from China what WeChat does, they’ll say “everything” — and you’d be wrong to think it’s an overstatement.
I was at a Chinese diner with my friend Irene when I first realized WeChat was an app made to rule them all. For context, Irene’s brother had married a few days prior, and she’d sent him money as a wedding gift. It’s a trick we immigrants do when we can’t show up to special occasions: don’t bother with gifts, just send cash and let them pick whatever they want.
I asked Irene which app she used because I was getting tired of high conversion fees. “Wait, isn’t WeChat a texting app?” I said. “They do money transfers now?”
Oh, they do much more than that.
Irene spent the following twenty minutes flexing the capabilities of the #1 app in her home country. There were blog posts, TikTok-like videos, recipes, flash sales, car rides, hotel offers, concert tickets, charities you could join, and even small games like Tetris and Space Invaders.
WeChat is called a Super-App for a reason.
A super-app is a mobile app with two layers, a core and a shell so to speak. The core involves basic services like chat and online payments. The shell is a platform that hosts third-party apps offering complementary services like the ones Irene showed me.
To grow an app into a super-app, you first need to expand your user base to the point where people join your app because all of their friends are already on it. The second step, perhaps the most important, is to integrate payment features that people can trust — bonus points if you make them fast and easy.
From there, the snowball effect activates.
The more features you add, the more useful your super-app becomes and the more new users it attracts, which leads to further growth. That’s how WeChat took over China in less than seven years.