The American group Uber is launching a super app pilot project in the United Kingdom this summer. Uber will add train and coach ticket reservations to its successful ride-hailing app, which has since been complemented by Uber Eats delivery services.
Integration of multiple platforms via APIs
Before the end of the year, Uber will also offer plane tickets, hotel room reservations and car rentals. Uber will market these services through partnerships with platforms to which it will integrate via application interfaces (APIs).
Uber’s goal is to provide a one-stop-shop with a true suite of travel services. It should be possible to book your bus ticket to the airport, your plane trip, a rental car at your destination and your hotel room via the Uber app. If the results of this project are satisfactory, Uber could extend it to a European scale. Delayed by the pandemic, this super application project was announced in 2018 by Dara Khosrowshahi, boss of Uber, who planned to make it an “Amazon of transport”.
Chinese WeChat as a reference
With this project, Uber aims to model the super application model that we already find in China with the WeChat platform, a perfect example of an all-purpose application via a one-stop shop. This Chinese messenger launched in 2011 now brings together as many services equivalent to those of Facebook, Amazon, Uber and UberEats, Doctolib or Deezer. WeChat has over 1 billion active users in China and even integrates utilities. The American Tech giants are eyeing this super app economic model specific to the Chinese market and experiencing strong growth in Asia, India, Africa and South America.
The rise of super apps in these regions can be explained in particular because a large number of consumers have discovered the Internet there on their mobile phone and have quickly adopted a benchmark app. The emergence of super apps in China has also been favored by the blocking of American applications, thus leaving the field open to national companies without foreign competition. In contrast, the app ecosystem in the West has grown with multiple vendors modeled on Apple’s and Google’s app stores.
The challenge of creating a mother app and mini apps
A user permanently connected to a “mother” mobile application is a dream for a marketing team. But the integration of mini-applications developed especially for a great app requires colossal technical means. And in every major app-specific market where Western leaders are in place, it will be difficult for them to tie together other services within a single super app.
In Europe, the authorities for their part take a dim view of the constitution of monopolies such as super apps could be. Additionally, these awesome apps would likely come up against the regulatory requirements set out by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Super app projects launched by FinTech
Despite these socio-economic brakes and these legal constraints, the ambition to create a great app is shared and announced by several Western technology companies, mainly in finance, the Fintechs. Thus in December 2021, the French startup Lydia, a specialist in mobile payment, announced a fundraising of 72 million euros to become a super app.
In the United Kingdom, the online bank Revolut has launched Stays. The American application PayPal has launched “savings”. The Swedish Fintech Klarna launched a shopping application. That said, there are few web giants with a large enough user base to diversify their services and launch a great app. It is for this reason that Uber’s project with 118 million monthly active users will be particularly observed.
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Uber again involved in the launch of its super app
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