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5 min

Super App or Super Service: The Difference and What to Choose for Business

Detailing the difference and seeing what works for you best

Diana Mesropian

Account Manager

Eva Petritski

Content Manager

November 24, 2022

Elon Musk said he would consider turning Twitter into a super app adding to the platform subsidiary services unrelated to its main functionalities, if he completes the purchase. He called WeChat, which is owned by China-based Tencent, a “good model” for the future development of Twitter.

Meanwhile, Revolut, a global neobank that entered the U.S. in March 2020, chose to go for a super service in the fintech industry, broadening the scope of its financial services with more tools for money transfers and management.

In this article, we will look into the differences between a super app and a super service, analyze the risks of these models and see which one is better for your business.

What is a super app

A super app is a multiservice mobile application. In other words, it is a mobile interface for an ecosystem combining its products and services on one screen. This is where users can issue credit cards, book flights, order food delivery and takeouts, request cleaning, book an apartment or a hotel all in one place. A super app may include any range of services.

Companies integrate such services via API or their own development framework. The services appear in a super app as separate icons. Developers give them different names: “applets”, “mini apps”, or “smart apps”, and aggregate them in a separate section.

Example. WeChat serves over one billion users monthly. The services include messaging, e-wallet, food delivery, inner-city courier services, public transportation e-tickets, car sharing, bicycle sharing, e-government services and more.

Over a year, AirAsia has turned its app for booking flights into a super app with food delivery, mobile wallet, insurance, messenger and taxi service.

What is a super service

It is also a multiservice mobile application, but centered around one industry. For example, a super service for drivers, a super service for repairs, or a super service for e-commerce.

Example. DriveU is an Indian super service for drivers. Earlier, it only offered hiring drivers. Then it added new features: searching for car washes, car services and online appointments, roadside assistance, a bulletin board for buying and selling cars, digital insurance, loyalty program and a personal account for storing insurance policy, driver’s license, etc.

A Philippine-grown super service mymall is a mobile-based technology platform for hiring trained partners to run such jobs as grocery delivery, personal shopping in malls, plumbing and carpentry works. Its goal is to combine such partners, products and services with the hiring process within one app.

Why develop a super service

A company develops a super service when it competes only within its core industry and is not going to develop non-core business areas and compete there. The company becomes an expert in its niche, studies all the business aspects, and provides services better than any other new player on the market.

Example. Revolut is a neobank with over 20 million users, 200 supported countries and more than 30 in-app currencies. It combines both retail and business banking in one app, along with device and travel insurance, investing, crypto access, and merchant services. Thus, it competes with such successful fintech services as Stripe, Adyen and Square, and does not go beyond its main area of expertise.

Why develop a super app

Super apps help to keep the audience within the ecosystem due to numerous services. For the same reason, a super app has a higher chance to land on the home screen of a smartphone: more benefits for customers and a higher demand for the application.

It is cheaper to attract users to one super app than to several applications. It is also easier to launch a new service with a warm audience than to promote it in a competitive niche from scratch. In addition, open super apps save on growth through partnerships and third-party developers.

Why a super service can win

The core business is of high quality. When there are several identical services on the market, and a vast number of ecosystems and offers, the quality of the service becomes the decisive factor. A company with the best service can keep its core audience, even without developing auxiliary services, and take customers away from competitors.

Ecosystem data is open to everyone. Governments want to regulate ecosystems and create fair competition. And in a few years, any market player will get the data that ecosystems and super apps are accumulating now. This means that ecosystems and super apps will lose their major competitive advantages and won’t be able to keep users with a unique personalized offer.

Partners help to move forward. If a financial company develops its own super service, like Klarna, PayPal or Revolut, it starts to deliver financial and payment solutions to other ecosystems and brands. It creates branded wallets, branded investment services or tools with instant issuance of bank cards in partner applications. Such a company expands its customer base by providing and placing its infrastructure and expertise under a partner brand.

Why a super service can lose

Digital barriers are emerging. Users are tired of logins, passwords, authorizations, linking payment cards and the constant leaks of their personal data. In a few years, voice assistants will allow users to solve tasks without having to touch the screen. Therefore, it will become more convenient to solve a wide range of tasks in a single interface, while a super service can solve only very specific ones.

For example, it is not possible to book a flight with Revolut. A user needs to open another app and use Revolut in that app. Some people like it this way. Moreover, they may get cashback and discounts on partner websites. Others, on the contrary, want to solve tasks without jumping between interfaces with different mechanics.

Diversification disappears. Focusing only on the quality of the core business is like putting all the eggs in one basket. If a company lacks competencies to beat competitors at quality, it will lose its audience. If users can get the same quality of services with additional value in a different interface, they will leave. A super service must provide the best service, the best conditions for customers, the fastest and most personalized service, and smooth operation. However, there is no guarantee that all this will work out.

Managing the product gets more difficult. The ecosystem model assumes common rules for the participants, a single standard for development and interaction. For example, Revolut partners with a variety of companies and services. Having individual terms with each of them complicates the management of its core product. After all, each partner has its own team, its own management approach, and operating procedures.

What to choose

Depends on what you want to achieve. A super service today works as a super app for a narrow industry, i.e., as a mobile platform for a horizontal ecosystem.

To choose a suitable model, the company needs to analyze the market and draft a product strategy. It is important to determine its capabilities and unique advantages, calculate risks and start development.

We at HeyInnovations help companies create the most efficient growth strategies and implement digital solutions that take sales to a new level. Drop us a line to receive personalized recommendations on how to scale your business.

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