Version 2 of Twitter, the so-called “super app,” will never happen. But by changing Twitter’s logo to Dogecoin’s (DOGE) mascot Shiba Inu, Elon Musk has at least feinted in the right direction.
The idea of a super app is more fantasy than reality. Many attempts have failed. Partial success stories exist in Southeast Asia and the App Store on the iPhone, but the only complete “app for everything” is WeChat, its status as the most popular app in China. Unique.
To make Twitter like WeChat, Musk would have to reinvent Twitter and nearly every service developed on the Internet since 2004. The “walled gardens” of big tech companies can’t necessarily interact with each other.
The only way to actually develop a superapp is with a decentralized app (Dapp). As open source apps, Dapps are open in the sense that they not only free computer code, but the entire network of Internet participants.
So developers on the distributed web benefit not only from composable software features (blocks of code that can be easily integrated into other open source projects), but also from “composable network effects.” can receive It’s the total value that participants add to the network that can be easily snapped together like Lego blocks.
Network effects and moats
Network effects are at the core of the world’s leading IT companies. Facebook, Google, and Apple are the top group, with Airbnb, PayPal, and Uber less than the top, but still impressive. The difference between the success of these companies and most other tech companies is often the difference between the network effects and the not having them.
It’s no wonder that the “network effect moat” (competitive advantage that protects companies) often appears in presentation materials. The greater the network effect, the wider the mote. America’s consumer web giants are so good at this logic that there’s no reason to drop a drawbridge against Twitter or just about anyone else.
I say almost because there is one notable exception. With the combined convenience of Apple and Google, Google’s search functionality is built into every corner of Apple’s products. Apple is the leading manufacturer of consumer IT hardware, and Google is perhaps the most important consumer web company. The relationship, which also targets regulators, is worth billions of dollars for both companies.
A principle emerges from the exceptions of Apple and Google. Super apps will not be born in the “mercantile Internet economy”, where companies hoard networks like they did during colonialism, when colonial powers hoarded precious metals.
Regulatory Pressure and Trust
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew told a US congressional hearing last month, “I promise the commission and all users that we will protect[TikTok]from any manipulation by any government. ‘ said. Imagine how easy Mr. Zhou’s job would be if Mr. Zhou could prove it using cryptography.
The Justice Department is stepping up its antitrust enforcement action against Apple and Google, separate from its longtime search partnership. Imagine what a Congressional hearing would look like if, either through an acquisition or through a clever idea, a Silicon Valley giant developed a super app with cross-industry functionality.
WeChat, on the other hand, is in a different kind of tough situation. Closely associated with the Chinese government, it is used not only for government communications, but also for censorship and surveillance.
It is extremely popular and has become indispensable for users. It has even been said that having a WeChat account suspended is sometimes the equivalent of being cut off from public infrastructure.
It is hard to imagine that without the help of a powerful state, apps could have the power or influence necessary to force super-app integration. Users who love privacy and free speech are right to question the trust assumptions that come with such public-private information partnerships.
composable network effects
The decentralized web, or Web3, is different. It’s permissionless.
If one project provides an app store and another provides search functionality, third-party developers can integrate their functionality into new apps without negotiating or asking for permission. One person’s finished product becomes another person’s Lego brick. The combination possibilities are not restricted by moats or regulators.
Such examples abound. The Ethereum blockchain is building the infrastructure to support such composability between Dapps (decentralized apps). Dapps can leverage Uniswap contracts for liquidity and rely on Aragon contracts for on-chain governance.
There are also Dapps that span multiple ecosystems. For example, Squid. Developed on Axelar, Squid can leverage liquidity on many on-chain decentralized exchanges (DEXs) to support cross-chain swaps.
But these apps aren’t “super apps.” But they all have one thing in common. Each one is a component of the Web3 open source code that together create something greater than the sum of its parts. It consists of network effects created by other apps.
This is a feature of the distributed web that can be called the “composable network effect.” In current apps it often takes the form of liquidity. It’s a network of buyers and sellers.
And composable network effects exist at every layer of Web3. Even something as basic as the security of the Ethereum blockchain is a composable network effect.
I’m not saying that Web3 should develop so-called “super apps”. It feels a little premature.
But composable network effects will attract developers and eventually create apps that were not possible on the 2004 Internet.
Galen Moore:Head of content at Axelar, an interoperable Web3 infrastructure. Former CoinDesk Professional Content Director.
｜Translation and editing: Akiko Yamaguchi, Takayuki Masuda
｜Image: Solana’s smartphone “Saga” (Danny Nelson/CoinDesk)
｜Original: A ‘Super App’ May Be Web3’s Super Power