Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

I don’t need, want or believe in an “everything” app

The (first) screen of my iPhone has 23 apps and 1 folder containing 11 additional apps. The second and final “page” of my iPhone contains the App Library. It contains 8 (default) folders and some 45 apps, including all of the apps of my first screen.

I minimize storing apps on my iPhone. I prefer deleting seldomly used apps.

I’m always amazed by people who have 5-10 pages / screens on their phone, including some 100+ to 200+ apps. Often those phones have no (functional or alphabetical) order in their apps.

I don’t believe in an “everything” app. I doubt that I would want an “everything” app, would it exist. I assume that many non-Chinese people would also use, need and/or want an “everything” app, would it exist.

Hence, I disagree with the title of the Bloomberg article below.

China likes monitoring its people through their use of hardware (eg, phones) and software (eg, an “everything” app). That is the main reason why I do not buy or use Chinese technology. My motivation is simple: I do not trust the Chinese government.

I used to have a similar view on Japan because I refused driving Japanese cars. In 2018, my (then) Mercedes dealer screwed me during a transaction. After lots of scrutiny on alternative cars, I finally bought a Toyota hybrid in 2019. I used my “climate” beliefs to justify buying a Japanese car.

source: my 11 July 2023 blog

I do not believe in an “everything” app because it would be impossible to serve a user’s quality demands.

See the quality criteria diagram in my 11 July 2023 blog.

Most likely an “everything” app would be inflexible and slow and would have either few or (very) many updates.

Moreover, any “everything” app would be a privacy nightmare.

Last but not least, the person advocating for an “everything” app (see below), often violates basic trust issues.

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.

Nobody needs an “everything app” (Bloomberg)

By: Aisha Counts
Date: 2 November 2023

“I have 61 apps on my phone. I have an app to order burrito bowls from Chipotle, to track the movies I watch, to rent e-books from the library and to check the weather. If there’s anything I want to do, I can bet you I already have an app for that.

Elon Musk, the billionaire prolific poster who bought Twitter Inc. a year ago and turned it into X, wants me to use his app for basically everything: dating, sending money, watching videos, reading the news and even applying for jobs. Musk wants the social network to be YouTube, LinkedIn, Hinge and the bank all rolled into one. He touted the vision to X staff to hype them up for the future (around the same time they learned that the company is worth less than half what Musk paid for it.)

The problem is, nobody wants an everything app. It may sound more convenient, but it will likely be less good at each of the things you already have specialist apps for. We already have ‘everything apps’ like Siri and Alexa, which I use to make calls or turn on the lights in my apartment. But half the time I ask Siri or Alexa to do something, they misunderstand me or call the wrong person. Which means it’s just easier and faster to open the app I need myself.

I also like choices. Most of my friends have Bumble, Hinge and Tinder on their phones, for example. Why limit yourself to one dating pool when you can have three? It’s the same reason I like to have both Uber and Lyft so I can compare prices and pick the cheaper or quicker option. I don’t mind making a few extra clicks or swipes into a new app if I know it will be more effective at accomplishing what I need. As one colleague put it, we love our crowded home screens and app folders. 

When I asked a family member who has 113 apps on their phone if they would ever use an everything app instead, they said no. “I would be kinda concerned about that one app having access to my whole life,” they said. “And I definitely don’t want that app to be owned by Elon.”

Perhaps Musk hasn’t considered the trust factor. After months of erratic decision making and controversy, X has become full of misinformation, hate speech and spam. That’s not exactly the place I want to find a spouse or stash my 401k.

Musk has pointed to WeChat, which is used by more than a billion Chinese people, as an example of the app he wants to create. WeChat users can do everything from booking flights or dentist appointments, to watching videos and ordering food. But as others have pointed out, the circumstances of WeChat’s success were largely unique to Chinese culture, where credit cards aren’t as common and the Chinese government bans many non-Chinese apps. 

He’s also not the first tech executive to dream of replicating WeChat’s success outside China. Attempts in the US and Europe to make everything apps have faltered. Facebook’s shopping features and Google’s social network didn’t take off. Attempts by Amazon and Snap to launch payments and other features have also struggled.

Musk can try. But I’ll stick with my 61 apps. —Aisha Counts



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