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SOHOZ: OUR HOMEGROWN SUPER APP

Back in late 90s, people used to have device for everything. Mobile for calling, navigation system for maps, pager for messages, PDA for managing contacts, notes taking etc. Slowly it was getting difficult to manage all these gadgets at once (if a person can afford them all.

Technology evolved and converged into something that we know today as Smart Phones. Smart Phones through apps can do whatever a person could do with 10 devices in past. Now we have apps for everything. They empower us to send messages to each other, order foods online, get a ride to any places, and pay our bills and lot more.

An average smart phone user has 26 apps installed on his/her phone. But, credible report suggests that a typical user only needs 4-6 apps. In fact, a person ends up spending 50% of his/her daily smartphone time on just one app. This behavior has led to creation and adoption of apps that can do multitude of things and replace our 10 other apps. This type of app is called super apps.

THE RISE OF SUPER APPS

Super apps act as all-in-one Swiss Army Knife managing a consumer’s needs in one place, ranging from communicating with friends to getting taxi service. These apps are part of ecosystems and are enclosed experiences that make it easy to accomplish certain tasks — so long as the tasks occur within the walled garden.

WeChat, Grab and Go-Jek are prime examples of a breed of software called the Super App. In the U.S. and Europe, such services are offered separately for iPhone and Android users. That’s not the case in China and Southeast Asia, where the apps open the door for big changes to how people live and do business.

With more than 1 billion people using it at least once a month, Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat is the king of Super Apps.

The copycat of technology from the West that was China’s tech industry in the past, is dead. And it wasn’t curiosity that killed it. In fact, as China’s tech has evolved from these carbon-copy replicas re-stamped and rebranded with cheesy graphics and Chinese characters, much of China’s tech has become the central attraction for tech hubs around the world.

The emergence of amazing all encompassing capabilities and incredible pervasiveness of apps like WeChat are shifting eyes towards China as the central attraction.

Since its release in 2011, it has since become one of the world’s largest standalone apps, with over 1 billion monthly active users. In May 2017, CNBC reported WeChat received on average 29% of all time spent on mobile devices. In comparison, the most used app in the US, Facebook, that same year reached 19% of time spent on mobile phones.

Even more astounding is the complete market dominance WeChat has achieved domestically. WeChat accounts for around 90% of all messaging app users in China, while Facebook’s messenger doesn’t even touch upon 30% in the US.

What characterizes a super app is its seamless, integrated experience to major online hubs, bypassing individual company websites and disparate interfaces. These attract the attention of the new generation of smartphobe users who want to accomplish multiple tasks in the shortest possible times.

“There’s so much excitement,” Anthony Tan, Grab’s co-founder and chief executive officer told Techradar. “We see the price of smartphones and data falling, we see the democratization of technology. We see this world where the rise of millennials and they want everything now and they want it immediately.”

Singapore’s Grab, whose app has been downloaded on 125 million mobile devices, forecasts it will double revenue in 2019.

Nadiem Makarim, founder of Go-Jek in Indonesia, said the all-in-one apps are becoming key tools for the middle class. “We want to create this first-in-the-world kind of super app that encompasses all your daily transactional needs,” Makarim said.

Go-Jek, with more than 100 million downloads, is preparing to enter Singapore and Thailand after debuting in Vietnam, Makarim said. He said Super Apps have become integral to big cities, with their
dense populations and intense daily activities.

Grab and Go-Jek began as ride-hailing platforms, but swiftly evolved into apps offering other services centered on payments. By harnessing the data generated by users of multifunctional apps, these providers can gain more insight into their daily behavior and deploy that information to offer new products and services. That’s one of the key building blocks for digital lives.

BANGLADESH’S SUPER APP

So, what does the emergence of super apps in Asia mean for Bangladeshi companies developing apps and working towards increased knowledge, penetration, downloads, use frequency and recommendations?

As more open competition develops and boundaries between traditional industries are broken down, the app developers here experience an increased interest in creating some sort of super app that will collect services across markets, industries and borders.

With that motivation and intention in mind, Sohoz, a Bangladeshi app has been working to develop its brand into a Super app.

Started as a ticketing platform for buses, Sohoz has morphed itself into the ride sharing business as well food delivery business. It has also plan to expand its apps territory into other areas including trucking and payment.

Maliha Quadir, founder and managing director of Sohoz said, they basically want to introduce the concept of a Super app—an app that cater your multiple needs in daily life. “Shohoz’s goal has
always been to become the largest destination for online in Bangladesh,” she said.

In the subsequent pages, we have published a full interviews of Maliha Quadir and Ravi Garikipati, a director of Sohoz, who has been the former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Indian e-comemrce
giant Flipcart.

These interviews will give our readers an insight into our homegrown Super app.

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