Elon Musk, the entrepreneur behind successes like SpaceX and Tesla, has set his sights on the “everything app,” drawing inspiration from the triumphant super apps of the East, such as WeChat, Grab, and Gojek. These innovative apps have revolutionized the East and South East Asian markets by seamlessly integrating payments, lifestyle services, and social media functionalities.
While the “everything app” has recently garnered attention, its origins can be traced back to as early as 1999 when Elon envisioned a financial services venture named Project X. The culmination of this idea eventually led to the creation of PayPal, as he merged the concept of Project X with Confinity.
On Twitter (now rebranded as X) last October, Elon expressed that “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app.”
Intriguingly, his fascination with the potential of an all-encompassing app dates back to the turn of the millennium.
Elon Heaps Praises on WeChat
Fast forward to today, Elon is now on a quest to develop an app that could potentially emulate the phenomenal success witnessed by super apps in the East. WeChat, in particular, stands as an awe-inspiring exemplar, having become an indispensable part of daily life for millions. By blending payment systems, lifestyle services, and social networking capabilities, WeChat has revolutionised the way people engage with their surroundings, making it a model that he seeks to emulate.
Source: Youtube Shorts
“We don’t even have an app as good as WeChat like in China. And like in China, you can live on WeChat. Basically…you do payments, you do everything…it’s great! WeChat is kickass and we don’t have anything like WeChat outside of China. So my idea would be like how about we just copy WeChat? Copy them!”
Elon Musk talked about how good WeChat is and how the west should have their own version of it as seen below.
What drives Elon ‘s desire to emulate WeChat? The term “super-app” hardly does justice to its vast array of services. From messaging and voice/video calls to social media, food delivery, mobile payments, games, news, and even dating, WeChat seamlessly integrates functionalities akin to WhatsApp, Facebook, Apple Pay, Uber, Amazon, Tinder, and a plethora of others, all within a single platform. The sheer scope of WeChat’s offerings raises intriguing questions: Is he aiming to replicate this all-in-one phenomenon?
So What Can This So-Called Everything App Be Used for?
Embarking on a grand venture, the “everything app” or Project X, holds the promise of reshaping the mobile app landscape as we know it. Envisioning a super app construct, the possibilities it brings forth are nothing short of boundless. Picture a mobile platform that seamlessly caters to all user needs, an all-in-one hub for convenience and efficiency. Such an experience has already captivated users in China and parts of Asia through the remarkable success of WeChat.
Considering X’s extensive reach with over 368 million users as of last year, its user base could serve as a pivotal catalyst in propelling the growth trajectory of the everything app. However, the scope extends far beyond this mere user count. The everything app’s potential encompasses a comprehensive feature list, elevating user experiences to unparalleled heights.
At the heart of this endeavour lies the xAI initiative, an intelligence powerhouse that drives the dynamic feature set and user interactions. With X’s substantial user base in the equation, the everything app gains the momentum it needs to thrive. Moreover, the data amassed by X holds the potential to become the fuel that powers the xAI initiative, paving the way for an enthralling synergy between the two.
Imagine the possibilities if X, a powerful distribution channel, were harnessed to turbocharge the creation of a super app experience. Beyond that, X possesses an abundance of valuable data, ideal for refining and training a cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) engine. The fusion of these capabilities holds the key to unlocking the potential for a ground-breaking super app of our generation. Elon describes X as representing “the unknown, the potential, the possibility,” hinting at the limitless horizons that lie ahead.
Everything Has its Risks
In the ever-evolving landscape of social media giants, X has not been exempt from regulatory scrutiny, especially concerning data privacy and protection breaches. European regions, known for their stringent data regulations, have been particularly vigilant in overseeing the practices of AI firms grappling with these challenges.
The integration of user data to fuel an AI engine, designed to inform and optimise the development of a super app and its marketplace, presents yet another venture with inherent risks. The watchful eye of regulators may fall upon this endeavour, given their past struggles in effectively regulating AI offerings from notable firms like OpenAI.
Is the Future Bright or is it Just a Pipe Dream?
Elon ‘s vision is ambitious – to consolidate a myriad of features within one comprehensive application. While WeChat has demonstrated the potential of this approach, Project X might face its share of challenges. Some users have grown disillusioned with the platform due to its lack of stringent verification requirements, which raises concerns about trust and credibility. Furthermore, the competitive landscape has intensified with TikTok introducing text posts and Meta launching Threads.
In the face of these developments, the fate of Project X hangs in the balance. Can Elon’s ingenuity and determination overcome the hurdles that lie ahead? Will users rally behind this all-encompassing app, or will it struggle to regain their trust? We can only wait and see if it will carve a lasting legacy in the world of mobile applications.