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2020: are Super Apps taking off?

We hold many apps on the palm of our hand. Are these going to merge into a Super App providing a single interface to most of our services? Image credit: Forbes/Getty

As we turn into a new year and a new decade there are plenty of technology foresight, both short and long term. If you missed the IEEE Computer Society 12 tech trends for 2020 you can find them here. If you want to explore more, different trends just google for them.

It is a no brainer to foreseen a continuous growth of services accessible through apps on our smartphones. By the end of last year (that was not that long time ago, wasn’t it?) there were 2.2 million apps on the IoS store and 2.8 million on the Android store serving 2.7 billion smartphone users. Overall, more than 200 billion app downloads. The apps market is foreseen to generate 189 billion $ this year (2020).

We are using very few apps, as shown in this graphic half the time we use just one app, the first 3 apps we use account for 77% of our apps usage. Image credit: BuildFire

I don’t know about you, but I am losing track on what apps are out there. Even though I am browsing periodically a few specialised apps review websites I get to see some 100 new apps every month, a fraction of the 180,000 apps appearing every month (either brand new or updated ones).

More than that! I probably have a hundred apps on my smartphone but I end up using just a few of them, some several times a day, others a few time a month, other… never!

This is where the Super Apps come in.

Super Apps aggregate in a seamless and meaningful way several “apps”, actually services provided by several apps providing the user with a single service space .

India is at the forefront of this trend, with several start ups chasing the new Graal. Forbes in a recent article speculates on the possibility that Super Apps in this new decade may change the overall user experience and the apps landscape.

On the one hand I see the reason for a shift to super apps, particularly steered by some big guy looking to a different way of implementing a portal, aiming at funnelling a broader market audience through its app. On the other hand the very success of apps has been a grass-root growth with hundred of thousands of developers/inventors proposing their niche-app to the market.
Personally, I think that this will continue in this decade. We might be seeing a few super apps emerging, as we have seen a few portals emerging (like TripAdvisor, Expedia, Booking in the travel sector) but the relentless flow of apps will keep coming through this new decade.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.