Daniel Prindii | Is it meta to think about a super app?

Is it meta to think about a super app?

Will Meta have a super app?

The recent launch of Threads has sparked discussion about the development of a super-app, or everything app, similar to WeChat-the Chinese app.

Threads is the new app from Meta, that wants to be the new Twitter competitor and to capitalize from the users alienated by Musk’s ownership and from those that find the decentralized microblogging platform, Mastodon, too hard to onboard and use.

The question that arises is if Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and now Threads, will be the creator of an everything app.

The possibility exists, but also the challenges.

For Meta to have an everything app, first it will need to survive all the antitrust processes and government regulations. The GDPR and DMA enforced by the European Union will be a hard checkpoint to pass.

Another checkpoint will be changing people’s habits. Will the majority of us want an app where the family chats, political rants, and holiday photos are in the same place? Maybe, all under a unique username, where the line between fun and professional is blurred?

And what about content moderation, fake news, AI spam, disinformation, and privacy? The first screenshots from Threads that you can find online are with the trove of data it captures. Privacy is one of the big motives why the app is not yet launched in the EU. Check their Privacy Center for all the data they collect.

By adopting the ActivityPub Protocol, Threads accounts will become available in the fediverse. This will bring greater control and portability for the user, but also a problem for the company that will need to be solved quickly: how will you monetize everything?
The challenge is to find a way to move from an ads-focused business model to another business model more diverse and resilient. Presently, the ActivityPub adoption is on the roadmap.

Are there any advantages of Threads being part of a super-app?

Firstly, being created by Meta, it’s part of a robust ecosystem that will a lot of knowledge, technology, and money to scale fast and experiment.
The fact that you can sign in to it with your Instagram username will boost the cross-pollination of followers and communities. Let’s wait and see if this is a useful feature, considering that the actual T&C says: “You may deactivate your Threads profile at any time, but your Threads profile can only be deleted by deleting your Instagram account.”

Furthermore, they can use those nearly 3 billion active users from Facebook to boost the reach and engagement of Threads. How the change community and vibe will change, remains to be seen.

Are there any future developments that will bring Meta closer to the super-app status?

Currently, Instagram and Threads cover: the original Instagram (Images) + Stories (like Snapchat) + Reels (like TikTok) and Threads (like Twitter).

The current development of WhatsApp communities can solve the need to communicate in small groups and share personal updates, like family groups, book clubs, or school groups.

To become a full everything app, Meta will have to tackle the audio and long-form (newsletters) mediums.

By creating a way to create and consume audio content, Twitter Spaces will become irrelevant. The same will happen with other apps in the space, like Clubhouse.

Adding newsletters and subscription options, the ecosystem will attract written content creators, like journalists, writers, bloggers, and businesses.
Tools like Email Octopus, Mailchimp, and apps like Substack will have their market segments attacked and possibly cannibalized by the Meta ecosystem.

In time, I believe, Facebook will be left out and retired from the ecosystem. Meta is already working on unifying the settings under the Accounts Center- a central place for security, privacy, and settings, that is close to the Instagram design.

Will Threads stay relevant in the future? With 30 million signups in the first 2 days from launch, the curiosity and the desire to recreate a Twitter vibe somewhere else is high. But the road ahead is not easy. Options like hashtags, lists, a more robust search, and a better recommendation system will be necessary to retain all these people and have them using the app.

The ActivityPub protocol adoption, the EU privacy laws, and other competitors will play a big role in making Threads a flagship app for Meta and a relevant one in our digital social communications.

Header image via Facebook.

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Daniel Prindii

Community Designer. Marketing Strategist.

Art Historian. Photographer.

Cluj, Romania/ Vicenza, Italy

danielprindii [at] pm.me

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