Creating a superapp is like selling a “feature-phone”

I saw a published statistic that 50% of mobile phone owners now have smartphones. (I can only assume that the other 50% still have feature-phones.) Given the choice to upgrade, only senior citizens would not be willing to trade in their feature phone for a smartphone.

In the technology adoption curve I believe that smartphones are in (or really close to) the laggard stage.

In my business of connecting content to your dashboard, I have been under fire by companies offering a superapp strategy. Specifically these are companies that aggregate content (which is not curating or creation) into one app that can be accessed in the car.

My engineering team leader made a comment, which was a comment I have been trying to come up with for about 6 months. Phil said “Hey Jake, you know that what we are doing is like taking a feature phone to the smartphone world.” I’m not sure if he meant what I heard, but this made total sense. It’s not the phone that’s smart, it’s the person using the phone. They want their choice of what content is on their phone, and how they want to interact with their content.

A superapp for the car is the same way. What do you think a Pandora user is going to do when they buy a new car that doesn’t support Pandora? Are they just going to give up their tailored stations and subscription? I believe they will just plug their phone into the Aux in jack. This behavior is why we killed our superapp strategy IN 2009! Selling a feature phone means you get the features when you bought your phone. Sure the phone “can” get upgraded, but it’s not designed for scaling. And at best the owner is relying on the manufacture to figure out what they want.

Instead of a automotive company telling you what your car stereo will and will not support, drivers are going to choose their content with our without the car’s dashboard involved.

If the car doesn’t support it, the Aux In jack will.