ANALYSIS | Can Elon Musk make Twitter an ‘everything app’? Experts Say It Doesn’t Look Good | TBEN news


The ongoing turmoil on Twitter, which has also raised questions about the ultimate fate of the social media site, may also have thwarted some of Elon Musk’s other plans for his new asset – to make an app for everything.

The billionaire, a frequent Twitter user, has spoken of buying Twitter as part of his crusade for a free speech forum important to the “future of civilization” as a “common digital city square”.

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But he’s also revealed some hints that he has another goal in mind with the acquisition: to create, in his words, “X,” “the everything app.”

While the details are small, Musk has suggested that his inspiration might be China’s WeChat, which offers a range of services for users such as messaging, social networking, peer-to-peer payments and e-commerce shopping.

Currently, Musk is dealing with the fallout from some of his corporate moves. Hundreds of Twitter Inc. employees are estimated to have decided to call it quits following a Thursday TBEN from Musk that staffers sign up for “long, high-intensity hours” or leave.

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The company has also told employees it will close its offices and limit access to badges until Monday, according to two Reuters sources.

Meanwhile, staff departures and ongoing unrest have fueled speculation that the site’s collapse is imminent. But even if Twitter survives, Musk will likely face some major challenges in making his everything app, including a potentially skeptical North American market, some analysts say.

Washington’s Sha Zhu shows off the WeChat app on her phone on August 18, 2020, which she uses to keep in touch with family and friends in the US and China. (Jacquelyn Martin/The The Bharat Express News)

A handful of successful super apps

“So far, we’ve only seen a handful of successful super apps in Asia, like WeChat, not in the West. There are good reasons for that,” Xiaofeng Wang, principal analyst at global market research firm Forrester, said in an email to TBEN. News.

While Musk hasn’t said much about his plans, he tweeted in October that “buying Twitter is an acceleration in creating X, the everything app.”

And during a question and answer session with Twitter employees in June, Musk talked about the lack of a super app like WeChat outside of Asia.

“When I think about WeChat in China, which is actually a great, great app, but there’s no WeChat movement outside of China,” he said. “And I think there’s a real opportunity to create that. You actually live on WeChat in China because it’s so helpful and so helpful to your day-to-day life. And I think if we could achieve that, or even in come close to that with Twitter, it would be a huge success.”

The Chinese super app WeChat is estimated to have over a billion monthly users and is a ubiquitous part of daily life in China. Users can hail a car or taxi, send money to friends and family, or make payments in stores.

“We now see him trying to take some elements of the super app and integrate it into Twitter,” said Jasmine Enberg, an analyst with Insider Intelligence. That includes the Twitter Blue Check subscription service, for $7.99 per month.

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Easier to start from scratch

But Enberg added that Musk faces an uphill battle to turn users into customers on a platform they are used to accessing for free.

“It probably would have been easier for him to start all over again,” she said.

Also, consumers in North America are used to using different apps for different activities and may be more concerned about privacy issues, she said.

Twitter’s headquarters is shown in San Francisco on October 28, 2022. Staff departures and ongoing unrest have led to speculation that the site’s collapse is imminent. (Jeff Chiu/The The Bharat Express News)

“Bringing payments to a social network is an incredibly difficult task because there are already a lot of security and privacy issues with social networks,” said Enberg. “And it’s going to be hard to convince users to send more personal and payment information to Twitter at this point.”

Julian Birkinshaw, the academic director of the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital at London Business School, said he believes Musk’s plans for a super app are a “non-starter.”

He suggested that Musk cannot just copy WeChat’s success because it evolved at a time in China when they didn’t have a proper payment system.

‘No problem to solve’

“If someone tries to do that in Europe or Canada, a lot of people will say, ‘Well, I don’t need that. I already have my Apple Pay, I already have my PayPal… [or] I just use my debit card.'”

“There’s no problem that needs to be solved. And so trying to fold in some kind of new functionality, when in fact people are very comfortable with their ingrained habits about how they live their lives – there’s no reason to do that, said Birkinshaw, who has researched WeChat.

Wang said WeChat’s success was based on a high level of consumer confidence. According to one of their company surveys, 58 percent of consumers in China trust the content brands post on social media, while only 20 percent of consumers in the US do, she said.

Chinese consumers are more willing to engage more with brands on their official WeChat accounts, purchase products through their WeChat mini-programs and complete transactions directly with WeChat Pay, share personal information and participate in loyalty programs through WeChat CRM , she said.

“It would be a lot harder for a western social media app to build the same level of trust and create a fully functional business ecosystem on the platform,” said Wang.