by James G. Barr

Docid: 00018056

Publication Date: 2303

Publication Type: TUTORIAL


A “superapp” is a mobile application that offers multiple functions within a single platform. Often described as a software version of the legendary Swiss army knife, a superapp provides a variety of services including messaging, social networking, e-commerce, financial services, ride-hailing, and food delivery, to cite a few.  A superapp offers users convenience, while giving service providers commercial exposure.

Report Contents:

Executive Summary

[return to top of this

As smartphones became popular, commercial interests from neighborhood
stores to major retailers quickly recognized the opportunity to boost
sales through mobile interfaces, helping popularize the phase “we’ve got
an app for that.” In fact, today’s smartphones are littered with apps,
some pre-installed and others downloaded by users from app stores.

It figures, therefore, that consumers would eventually want to
consolidate multiple apps into fewer apps – a desire shared by providers
like WeChat, Amazon, and Facebook.

A “superapp” is a mobile application that offers multiple functions
within a single platform. Instead of entering and exiting separate
applications, a superapp user simply toggles between resident “miniapps.”

Faulkner Reports
Agile Software Development
DevOps Tutorial

Often described as a software version of the legendary Swiss army knife,
a superapp provides “one-stop-shopping” for a variety of services,

  • Messaging
  • Social networking
  • E-commerce
  • Financial services
  • Ride-hailing
  • Food delivery

Services can be provisioned via the app itself, or via third-party

A superapp offers users convenience while giving service providers
commercial exposure.

If superapps feel familiar, they should; their physical and digital
antecedents include:

  • The Sears catalog
  • Department stores
  • Supermarkets
  • Shopping malls
  • Cable and satellite TV
  • Internet radio
  • Microsoft Office suite
  • ATMs
  • Websites and user portals
  • In effect, any space where separate services can be aggregated,
    advertised, and delivered

The superapp concept originated in Asia with popular brands like WeChat
and Gojek. As described by analyst Connie Chan:

  • China’s “WeChat allows its users to text each other, access city
    services, pay for [their] utilities, send peer-to-peer payments, stream
    videos… the list is practically endless.”
  • Indonesia’s Gojek “combines a ride-hailing app with additional
    services like paying utility bills, moving and shipping, pharmacy
    delivery, all in one spot.”1

Like a supermarket, a customer may enter a superapp to procure one
product or service and wind up, either intentionally or incidentally,
securing two or three more. Gojek, for example, features five classes of

Transport & Logistics
with goride (take a taxi), gosend (deliver packages), gobox (get help
moving), and more.

Payments with gotagihan (pay
bills), gogive (make donations), gosure (get insurance), and more.

Food & Shopping with
gofood (deliver food), gomart (deliver groceries), gomed (receive
telemedicine calls and prescriptions), and more.

Entertainment with goplay
(binge-watch movies) and go tix (book tickets).

Business with gobiz (run and
grow a business), midtrans (accept and make payments), moka (process POS
transactions), and more.

Superapps offer logistical advantages that non-integrated apps cannot. As
observed by Deloitte, “By sharing data across services – and often with
third-party developers – superapps can deliver a more seamless customer
experience. For example, a banking service within the app may approve a
loan based on purchasing data from the app’s digital marketplace.
Similarly, a hotel booking service might offer a promotion in response to
a flight booked elsewhere within the superapp. This integration drives
additional third parties to the platform, which in turn can improve the
quality and quantity of data available.”2


[return to top of this

Although still an emerging application type, there is considerable demand
among consumers for superapps:

  • In the UK – 74 percent
  • in the US – 72 percent
  • In Germany – 70 percent
  • In Australia – 64 percent3

As reported by analyst Lori Perri, “Gartner expects that by 2027, more
than 50 percent of the global population will be daily active users of
multiple superapps. The superapp concept will also expand to include
enterprise mobile and desktop experiences, such as workflow, collaboration
and messaging platforms.”4

Musk Effect

In October 2022, Elon Musk tweeted that “buying Twitter is an accelerant
to creating X, the everything app.” Elaborating on Musk’s “state of play,”
analysts Sara Fischer and Hope King write, “Musk first began teasing the
possibility of creating an everything app in May [2022], just weeks after
signing a merger agreement to buy Twitter.

“Speaking on an investor podcast, he said: ‘If
you’re in China, it’s basically, you kind of live on WeChat – it does
everything. It’s sort of like Twitter, plus PayPal, plus a whole bunch of
other things. And all rolled into one with actually a great interface.’

“Musk went on to argue that such an app could
either be made by converting Twitter or by starting from scratch, ‘but it
does need to happen somehow.'”5


[return to top of this

Broadly speaking, there are two distinct applications for superapps:

Business-to-consumer (B2C) or
“Customer-facing” – A category occupied by WeChat, Gojek, Amazon,
Facebook, and others.

Business-to-employee (B2E) or
“Employee-facing” – In-house, private offerings designed to satisfy the
work-related needs of enterprise employees and their managers.

B2E Superapp

While contoured to the needs of individual enterprises, a full-function
B2E superapp could provide access to:

  • Employee profile data
  • Employee benefits eligibility
  • Employee time tracking
  • Employee expense reporting
  • Employee personal planning
  • Emergency notification information
  • Enterprise policies & procedures
  • Security & safety information
  • Internal communication tools
  • Internal collaboration tools
  • Internal AI tools
  • Internal data mines
  • Enterprise workplace surveys
  • Enterprise news & alerts
  • “Whistleblower” protocols & tools6

Figure 1. A B2E superapp can transform an employee
smartphone from a workplace distraction to an enterprise asset.

Figure 1. A B2E superapp can transform an employee smartphone from a workplace distraction to an enterprise asset.


B2E Benefits

Personal Productivity

Superapps contribute to personal and group productivity. Rather than
being a workplace distraction, a smartapp-enabled smartphone permits
employees to perform their tasks more efficiently and effectively by
reducing the number of discrete applications and application

Digital Transformation

To remain competitive in a world dominated by digital advancements like
artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and edge computing, many,
if not most, enterprises are engaging in digital transformation (DT). DT
is the utilization of digital technologies to create new products,
services, or processes, or to enhance existing ones. DT projects are aimed
at streamlining enterprise operations, gaining operational insights and
capabilities, reducing operational expenses, and developing business
opportunities. Superapps will be vital instruments in affecting a digital

Remote Work

For anyone who works primarily with a computer, the era of remote work,
aka telecommuting or telework, has arrived. Rendered possible by decades
of technological innovations from portable dial-up computer terminals to
fax machines, personal computers, the internet, smartphones, and the
cloud, today’s global information infrastructure allows millions of
employees to work full-time (remote work) or part-time (hybrid work) from
their home or other non-enterprise location. Similar to digital
transformation, superapps will facilitate remote work by improving
communication and coordination between remote workers and their central
office counterparts.

Observations and Recommendations

[return to top of this

While superapps – both B2C and B2E – demonstrate great potential, certain
issues may delay development and deployment.

User Trust

No app, especially superapps, can flourish without user trust. As analyst
Connie Chan explains, “Superapps need to aggregate a great deal of user
data, so their parent companies must be incredibly thoughtful about what
data they share (or more importantly don’t share) with their partner
networks. They must also be sensitive to user control. With WeChat, for
example, if you want to prevent a business you’ve engaged with from
contacting you again, one swipe is all it takes. However, once this trust
with the user is established, it paves the way for payments, one of the
most important and foundational components of superapps.”7

When promoting a superapp, especially in an era when ransomware and
identity theft are rampant, developers should stress function,
convenience, and privacy.

App Interface

Since a superapp, with its many miniapps, often serves a large and
disparate user community with wide-ranging tastes, developers should
solicit user input during the superapp design phase, perhaps even
generating interface mockups for preference testing.

When considering the user interface (UI) and user experience (UE) design,
analyst Sumeet Thakkar suggests the following factors:

  • “Color scheme
  • “Typography
  • “Placement of the important app services for easy navigation
  • “Eye-soothing effects & transitions, and much more”8

Quality Assurance

Owing to their complexity, superapps require super testing:

  • Functional
  • Performance
  • Capacity
  • Security
  • Privacy
  • Interoperability (with other apps)
  • Compatibility (with previous superapp versions)

To guard against developer and local QA bias, part of the testing regimen
should include third-party penetration testers.

Finally, since superapps are more volatile than regular apps, requiring
more frequent functional upgrades and bug fixes, new versions should be
released quarterly, perhaps even monthly, particularly during a superapp’s
early maturation period.9

[return to top of this


1 Connie Chan. “What Is a Super App?”  Andreessen
Horowitz. 2023.

2 Gopi Billa, Zach Aron, and Mark Purowitz. “Forecasting the
Future of Super-Apps.” Deloitte Consulting LLP | Dow Jones &
Company, Inc. October 4, 2022.

3 Sumeet Thakkar. “Developing a Super App – The Complete
Guide.” MindInventory. August 30, 2022.

4 Lori Perri. “What Is a Superapp?” Gartner, Inc. September
28, 2022.

5 Sara Fischer and Hope King. “Musk’s “Super App” Vision.”
Axios. October 6, 2022.

6 Sumeet Thakkar. “Developing a Super App – The Complete
Guide.” MindInventory. August 30, 2022.

7 Connie Chan. “What Is a Super App?”  Andreessen
Horowitz. 2023.

8-9 Sumeet Thakkar. “Developing a Super App – The Complete
Guide.” MindInventory. August 30, 2022.

About the Author

[return to top of this

James G. Barr is a leading business continuity analyst
and business writer with more than 40 years’ IT experience. A member of
“Who’s Who in Finance and Industry,” Mr. Barr has designed, developed, and
deployed business continuity plans for a number of Fortune 500 firms. He
is the author of several books, including How to Succeed in Business
BY Really Trying
, a member of Faulkner’s Advisory Panel, and a
senior editor for Faulkner’s Security Management Practices.
Mr. Barr can be reached via e-mail at

[return to top of this