Why super apps can be a super bad idea

By Ahmed Wafi

An all-in-one app might defeat the core purpose of the app in the first place.

There’s been a lot of buzz about super apps lately and if you don’t know what they are, you should because you probably have more than one chilling on your phone’s home screen. Grab, Shopee and TNG eWallet are some of the most common super apps.

How does an app qualify to be super? Well, basically it has to serve a variety of your daily needs meaning that by opening up one app, you can order food, shop for new clothes, pay for your groceries, book a car to get you somewhere, pay your bills and so on. In short, apps within an app.

Last year, there were even talks of MySejahtera expanding to become a super app! I certainly hope that update comes with notifications letting us know where we picked up the ‘casual contact’ status!

“Well, that sounds super!” Yes it does but how many people actually download one app for all of the services above? Speaking to a trusted full stack developer who’s responsible for designing a website with an average of about 2,000 users a week, he believes that with the app implementing many features and functions, it diverts from its original function.

In most cases, having more features in an app or a programme will not translate to more value for your users. Users can get confused and lost in what they can do with the app and ultimately lose interest.

Think jack of all trades, master of none.

This has been described by Shopify as feature creep. This often happens as a result of poor planning, insufficient product strategy and unclear direction or misaligned priorities.

If you’re a developer, feature creep is something you’d want to avoid like the plague. Staying away from it requires you to properly research and identify the problems you wish to tackle, no more than that. If it helps, create a roadmap of what you will be doing so that you don’t stray away from it and end up having unnecessary features.

Like all good reads, there has to be a ‘but’ and ours is super apps have been proven to work in the past. Apps like Grab and TNG eWallet have successfully implemented different features into their interfaces making them more valuable and useful for users.

Grab as you know started off as an e-hailing service but have ventured into food delivery (which might arguably be its most successful business!), parcel/item delivery, insurance, eWallet and more. Try opening up the app now to see all the different services they offer!

Problem here again is that with so many services offered, many people don’t even know these options are available and only click on the services they’re used to because in reality, how many of you actually get your insurance from Grab?

The same applies with the TNG eWallet app. Apart from making payments, sending money, the app also allows you to pay your electric and water bills, pay for public parking, order items from FamilyMart and even invest your money for daily earnings.

Our developer earlier feels that generally, it can be a bad idea especially for smaller organisations with limited resources to go into creating a super app. Larger organisations with more resources might not feel the pinch of the cost of resources though.

Although it has proven to work in the past, developers should tread carefully. Most times, super apps are a bad idea; some experts even go far as to say that they are ‘selfish’ and don’t even improve user experience but there have been cases where with the right planning, they go on to succeed and become a part of the user’s everyday life.

What’s your favourite super app? Tell us @graduan on Twitter!

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash and Aman Singh

Share this article: