An “everything app,” in Musk’s eyes, resembles WeChat, China’s massively popular app that billions of people use to grocery shop, text, video conference, play video games, follow the news, and most importantly, for Musk, make digital payments––a capability he wants on Twitter, highlighted by new state-issued fund-transferring licenses.
"If you're in China, you kind of live on WeChat," he said. "It does everything — sort of like Twitter, plus PayPal, plus a whole bunch of things, and all rolled into one, with a great interface. It's really an excellent app, and we don't have anything like that outside of China."
It’s true, Musk’s aspirations identify a likely gap in the Western app world. But is Twitter––which, over the past year, has lost major street cred from the business world, not to mention revenue and users who are now fleeing to Meta’s competitor Threads––really the social platform most likely to start the revolution?
My money is on TikTok.
The app––linked directly to China via its parent company and its Eastern twin Douyin––has taken the world by storm through an eerily addictive and reliable algorithm that users love. It has amassed over a billion users while winning the respect of marketers and brands, despite highly publicized political drama over potential national security risks.
TikTok isn’t just an app that pushed short-form video and the vertical video feed into the mainstream, with every leading social media company stealing/integrating these features into their own apps, desperate to capture the attention of Gen Z users. It also has lofty ambitions to scoot its way into a variety of industries.
A driving force behind WeChat is ecommerce, which TikTok and ByteDance have been trying hard to integrate into Western mainstream culture via “Project Aquaman,” a companywide initiative that includes plans to create an ecommerce supply chain with streamlined delivery and returns for customers, similar to Amazon.
While TikTok’s livestream shopping efforts haven’t taken off in the West, there’s no saying its ecommerce efforts won’t. It is testing a “Trendy Beat” shopping feature in the U.K. where products are sold and shipped by a Singapore-based ByteDance-owned company. And last week TikTok began testing a “Shop” tab that displays an additional product-based feed beside users’ regular “For You” and “Following” tabs.
The China-owned app is also doubling down on securing its place in the music industry, while attempting to grow opportunities for musicians on its platform by expanding its partnership with Warner Music Group and launching a new music streaming platform that wants to rival Spotify and Apple Music.
Obviously, there’s a long way to go for these initiatives to take hold––or not––but TikTok has already supplanted itself as an irresistible presence across the globe, among users, brands and the media as a whole. If its ecommerce efforts succeed, it could be a force to be reckoned with.
Then again, looking at the incessant proliferation of copycat features in the social media space, there’s a likely chance all apps will soon become “everything apps.&