Elon Musk’s revived $44 billion deal to buy Twitter sparked a new debate over what the billionaire will do with the service when he eventually takes ownership of it.
On Tuesday, Musk tweeted that buying Twitter is an “accelerator for creating X, the everything app.” He gave no further details.
Musk may be hinting at so-called “super apps” popular in China and other parts of Asia, developed by the likes of Chinese tech giant Tencent.
Super apps is a term to describe an app that often acts as a one-stop shop for all your mobile needs. For example, you can order a taxi or food via the app and make payments and send messages at the same time. This eliminates the need to have multiple apps for different functions.
The Chinese app WeChat, run by Tencent, is the largest super app in the world, with more than a billion users.
In WeChat, users can message people, do mobile banking, pay for things online or in-store by scanning a barcode, play games, post videos, shop online, stop a car, and much more.
When Musk talks about “the app for everything,” he could be thinking of WeChat.
Tesla’s CEO previously expressed admiration for WeChat calling the app “awesome” during a town hall meeting with Twitter employees in June. Musk said there is no WeChat equivalent outside of China.
“And I think there’s a real opportunity to create that,” Musk told employees. “You actually live on WeChat in China because it’s so useful and so useful for your daily life. And I think if we could achieve that, or even get close to that with Twitter, it would be a huge success .”
Musk said he wants at least one billion people to use Twitter, up from 237.8 million at the end of the second quarter.
Tencent runs the ubiquitous Chinese messaging app WeChat. The company has a short video feature in the app and has started monetizing it through video ads in the feed. Tencent said such ads could become a “substantial” source of revenue in the future.
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One of the biggest features of WeChat is WeChat Pay. This is a feature where users can scan a barcode in a store to pay via their mobile or send money to friends via chat. WeChat Pay can also be used for online purchases.
Musk said at City Hall that he thinks payments within Twitter are an “interesting thing to do.”
However, super apps like WeChat haven’t really taken off in Europe, US and other western markets.
WeChat, meanwhile, is heavily censored in China, something Musk is unlikely to do with Twitter given his past criticisms of the platform’s content moderation strategy, which the billionaire says has stifled free speech.
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