Quartz Obsession Podcast

Superapps: There can be only one

Despite antitrust scrutiny, the dream of building a superapp in the US persists.
Superapps: There can be only one
Graphic: Vicky Leta
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Apple’s early App Store ads famously proclaimed, “There’s an app for that”—anything you wanted to do on your phone, the company insisted, you could do through an app. That marketplace ethos still holds today. But when smartphones came to China, there was just one app that really mattered—WeChat, the self-styled “superapp.” In China, people use WeChat for just about everything, so why did the US and Chinese embrace such different mobile ecosystems? And why is the dream of building a superapp in the West so persistent? Read the full transcript here. (Presented by Deloitte)

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Scott Nover is a tech reporter at Quartz and the host of season 5 of the Quartz Obsession podcast. He is obsessed with TikTok, fantasy football, and The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.

Ananya Bhattacharya is a breaking news reporter at Quartz. She is obsessed with dancing, watching home makeover shows, and writing unfinished poetry in her Notes app.

Show notes

Managing the Message: What you can’t say about the 19th National Communist Party Congress on WeChat” The Citizen Lab, University of Toronto, 2017

For your eyes only? Ranking 11 technology companies on encryption and human rights” Amnesty International, 2016

That song Scott is trying to sing


The Quartz Obsession is produced by Rachel Ward, with additional support from executive editor Susan Howson and platform strategist Shivank Taksali. Our theme music is by Taka Yasuzawa and Alex Suguira. This episode was recorded by Eric Wojahn at Solid Sound, in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Octavius Studios in Mumbai.