Super-apps and the decentralized web seem to represent too diametrically opposite forces competing for the soul of connectivity! The winning direction (if there is one) will impact the future of tech innovation.
What does it all mean? Who will win? Should we care?
Super Apps !
A super-app, put simply, is an ecosystem of services (usually closed) that offer users an easy and integrated experience… Imagine chatting, shopping, paying for services, hailing taxis, managing finances in one place…
A typical example is Tencent’s WeChat.
It was initially a messaging app but its popularity led to the addition of many services including hotel reservations, payments, games, ordering taxis, medical consultations and more.
There are others, and many predict that Apple, Amazon, Meta, Google, or Microsoft might soon launch the next super-app…
Big-Tech would want to build super-apps – they already have the attention of billions of users, and maximizing the profit and engagement per second of attention is what they’ve been perfecting for years. This – however – is not entirely easy. It might lead to wars across the carefully created boundaries, and might awaken regulators to anti-competitive practices.
The Decentralized Web (Web 3.0)
The Decentralized web is an abstract concept that describes a trend (dream, vision, ambition) by many users to reorganize the internet by removing centralized control and data hoarding by different kinds of organizations.
Imagine a social network where the content creators get the benefits, and the community does the moderation of content. The data itself can – by using different types of decentralized databases (like the blockchain) – be distributed and decentralized, and not owned by a particular group.
Imagine a currency that isn’t created (printed & distributed) by a central authority, but is created by many, owned by many… without central control (hint: it exists… it is called Bitcoin).
The decentralized web is truly democratic way of thinking about handling the power of the internet.
It is quite clear, however, that the concept of the decentralized web runs somehow in the opposite direction of super-apps…
Will the web move towards more centralization? Would a centralized entity (like Meta or Google) be better for tech innovation than the distributed community? Or will Web 3.0 change this?
It is too early to tell… although would be interesting to watch the battle unfold.
Another interesting question would be : Could we see a morphing of the two… So a decentralized super-app?? (seems a bit far-fetched at the moment… but why not?).