What is X, Elon Musk’s super app project?

After buying Twitter, Elon Musk intends to use the social network to design a great application. Explanations.

Owner of Twitter recently, Elon Musk plans to make many changes to the social network, especially in terms of content moderation. However, even before buying the platform, the multi-billionaire mentioned another project: “Purchase of Twitter will accelerate the creation of X, the all-purpose application”have tweeted the businessman at the beginning of October, when he again changed his mind about this acquisition. Elon Musk wants to create a great app, but what will it look like and can this project actually be done?

A popular concept in Asia

Before talking about X, let’s go back to the super app concept. It is an application that provides various services that are used in daily life. This allows for example to chat with friends, read the news or pay for purchases in the store. For his application that can do everything, Elon Musk was inspired by WeChat in China. “You usually live on WeChat in China. If we can recreate that with Twitter, we will have great success”the Tesla boss said in a virtual meeting with the company’s employees in June.

WeChat has evolved from a simple messenger to an app that offers several services, including in-store payment.©Sorbis/Shutterstock

WeChat is the best known example of super apps. Originally an instant messaging app, today it can be used for chatting, paying bills, making doctor appointments, ordering a taxi, and even starting divorce proceedings, among others. things. It has over 1.2 billion monthly active users according to Statista. In addition to WeChat, there are other “all-purpose applications” in Asia, such as Grab in Singapore, where it is possible to deliver food, send parcels or book a hotel. Similarly, Line in Japan allows users to make phone calls and send messages, as well as listen to music, read news and search the Internet.

Towards efficient applications in the West

These super apps are in Asia, but they are not in the West. “There is no WeChat equivalent outside of China”, Elon Musk also announced in a virtual meeting with Twitter employees. However, applications seek to approach this model by offering certain functions. Such is the case with WhatsApp, Meta’s messaging service, which allows users in India and Brazil to send and receive money. Similarly, in Messenger, which also belongs to the Californian group, it is possible to book and pay for a train ticket directly from the application thanks to the SNCF chatbot.

Elon Musk plans to create an application similar to WeChat, which will be called X. Initially, X was the name of an online bank co-founded by the billionaire in 1999, which then merged with PayPal. In 2017, the businessman bought the domain name X.com from PayPal, but currently the site only displays “x”.

A project far from feasible

Despite his will, Elon Musk’s project is unlikely to see the light of day, because if there is no good Western app today, it is mainly for a question of competition. The different services found in WeChat, Grab or Line are actually divided into different applications: Apple and Google offer mobile payment solutions, Meta is present in the social network and messaging market on Facebook or WhatsApp, etc. “In China, there is not really the same problem. On the contrary, the playing field is perfect, there is little competition in the West, the market is very large and, finally, there are no antriust laws comparable to those found in the West, which may prevented the Chinese groups from thinking about the activities they were doing. want”recently explained by Maxime Recoquillé, tech journalist at The Express.

Elon Musk’s project is incompatible with the competition laws of some Western countries. Within the European Union, for example, the regulations being implemented are aimed at “ensure fair and equitable conditions for businesses, while promoting innovation, the harmonization of standards and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises”. The European Commission, which is responsible for controlling anti-competitive practices, can impose fines on companies guilty of them, which will – according to both companies – have the effect of limiting consumer choice.

After opening an investigation in June 2020, the Commission, for example, informed Apple in May that it suspected the company of abusing its dominant position in contactless payments, by preventing competing solutions from working on its device. If the company is found guilty and does not correct its practices, it will be liable for fines of up to 10% of its annual turnover. With antitrust laws aimed at fighting monopolies, it is therefore unlikely that Elon Musk will build a Western WeChat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *