Microsoft Super App Has Arrived, and It’s Not All That Great: The Information reveals that Microsoft Start was evaluated for this role, but it ultimately decided to focus on another program, while Microsoft’s “super app” concept is said to be something else entirely. At the end of this post, I mention that one key distinction between Microsoft Start and whatever the company has cooking is the lack of messaging or a social network.
Microsoft is looking to create a “super app” to compete with Apple and Google in the mobile search market, according to a story published this morning by The Information (opens in new tab).
Huh, that is intriguing, to say the least. Microsoft must have a solid plan in place if they hope to compete with Google and other digital giants.
So, what exactly is a “Super App”?
The idea of a “super app” has been around for some time, and its purpose is to get users to spend as much time as possible within a single app, as more time spent within an app means more views, which means more clicks, which means more money. Although Facebook has made an attempt at this by including useless information like news, markets, video, and more, the concept is largely novel to Westerners.
Reports have surfaced that Elon Musk, who has dreamed of an “X: The Everything app” (cue eye roll), may try to transform Twitter into it by adding support for cryptocurrency payments, online shopping, and more. The last thing anyone needed.
This is not a novel concept; the Chinese app WeChat serves as a useful precedent. Everything from instant messaging to social networking to news to live streaming to shopping to marketing to customer service is available on WeChat.
Since its inception in 2011, WeChat has amassed an audience of over 1 billion people.
Just what is the secret to its immense popularity? China has effectively eliminated its competitors in the realm of websites and social networks by banning them altogether. That’s why it’s cut off access to Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, Twitter, Vimeo, Dropbox, OpenVPN, Flickr, OneDrive, and Twitch.tv, Tapatalk, and pretty much every major Western news outlet.
The ability to create a Super App is facilitated by the exclusion of the game’s most prominent players.
And since this is China, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the government allegedly monitors WeChat users both inside and outside the nation.
That’s right, you thought Google was horrible.
What’s This? Microsoft’s Making a Super App?
The Information claims that Microsoft is considering taking similar action to counteract the mobile search advancements made by Google and Apple. Alternatively, as today’s Seeking Alpha writer put it:
Similar to how Tencent’s WeChat functions in China, Microsoft’s “super app” may be created to combine a variety of services into a single app, such as shopping, texting, web searching, news feeds, and more. WeChat, which includes online gaming and grocery ordering within its app, among other services, was reportedly an influence on Microsoft’s strategy, according to a report by The Information.
This seems to be the standard operating procedure for every large technology firm looking to acquire the next great thing (NBT).
Of course, our Senior Editor Zac Bowden is unaware of any plans to develop such an app.
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But there’s a bigger problem here, and it’s rather obvious: this is old news, and the app already exists.
Referring back to Seeking Alpha’s description, this reminds me of… Microsoft Start. During that time period, in September 2021, the Microsoft News app underwent a rebranding. Just so you don’t have to think too hard about it:
Microsoft Start, the company’s new personalized feed website, aims to centralize premium publishers’ news and information feeds for ease of consumption. With improved AI and machine learning and human moderation to assist in curating material, Microsoft claims that Microsoft Start builds on the success of MSN and Microsoft News.
Microsoft Start is available as an app for Android and iOS as well as a component of the new Widgets Panel in Windows 11 and the New Tab functionality in Microsoft Edge.
Whether it’s for shopping, checking the weather, doing a web search, playing a game, setting a new wallpaper, reading the news, or tracking your own interests with Microsoft Rewards, Microsoft Start is already rather useful. I don’t know what else to call it besides a “super app.”
Did you know that it may be made the system-wide default SMS client on Android? It wasn’t until I started writing this piece that I realized it. To this day, I have no idea how it operates, but it does. Since Microsoft Start is powered by Edge, you can also make it your default browser.
In any case, there’s more where that came from!
Apps like Buy Direct, COVID-19 data, discounts, games, health tools, mathematical calculators, nearby, Money, OneDrive, video, a unit converter, World Cup coverage, and more may all be found under Microsoft Start. In a few seconds, the math tool can solve, graph, and explain any problem you snap a picture of, making it a truly elegant solution to the age-old dilemma of how to get a human to understand math.
You can even get your money back if you scan your receipts. Seriously.
Is it true that Microsoft has been developing a “Super App”?
People, it’s been standing before our eyes for well over a year. But now we must wonder, is it any good? A solid meh is what I have to say about it. Even though I primarily use it for news, there’s no denying that Microsoft has packed this app full of features in the hopes of making it a super app. It’s a great effort and a clear representation of what such an idea may look like, but I feel it doubtful it would gain much support simply because we reject such things in Western markets.
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Controversy also surrounds news curating, which is now primarily performed by AI rather than human journalists (as it was in the past before Microsoft laid off all of them). To an extent, it can learn your preferences, but just like any other form of artificial intelligence, it can make mistakes. Futurism, a website, just just stated “MSN Deletes Fake News About Mermaids and Bigfoot, Runs New Story About Haunted Ventriloquist Dummy.”
Maybe I’m wrong, and Microsoft Start is the NBT and will lead this big app mania in the U.S. and worldwide, but my gut tells me this won’t work. One thing that Microsoft Start is lacking is a social network that would keep users engaged. Maybe that’s more motivation for Microsoft to buy Twitter. But if you’re waiting for Microsoft’s super-secret app to debut, the good news is you can download it today (or fourteen months ago) (or fourteen months ago).
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