As an app development company, we at SDI know how quickly this market can change. You take your eye off for one second, and a bunch of people is trying to catch invisible monsters from a 20-year-old TV show. The recent rise of a new trend has similarly caught our attention: Messaging Bots.
It feels like we’re just getting used to having apps and already we’re seeing the replacement of our primary form of computer interaction. Well, that’s not entirely true; apps aren’t going away, not even close. But what bots can do is replace all the simple, super basic apps that we all have on our phones. Many Bots can actually replace multiple apps at once, and they’re cloud-based, so your phone memory won’t be hogged up.
But let’s take a step back and just talk about what in the world a Bot is, then we’ll go into the Bot Vs app advantages, and wrap up with a discussion on the future of app and Bot development. Don’t need any more info and want to build your own SMBs Bot? Contact SDI here.
What Are Bots
Bots are essentially an automated program that can operate within and without an app (which is basically a way to store software on your device). Bots are often seen on messaging platforms, notably with the app WeChat – who makes a cool $6 billion in sales every year – but everything from scheduling bots (think HootSuite) to Content bots (what are the top news stories today, Siri?) are all over the place.
A Bot generally operates on “the Cloud,” update automatically, and can have instantaneous access to your phone – literally, just start talking to a bot and it has everything it needs. While this walks the line between disturbing and useful, it’s still pretty awesome – and has big implications for the future of commerce.
Bots use Artificial Intelligence tools such as Natural Language Processing tools to understand and emulate natural human conversation. They use other machine learning tactics to better understand you, the user. Just like machine learning in apps, the more you use a Bot, the better a Bot understands what you need. In fact, many apps already use Bots within their apps to do just that.
The Advantages of Bot Development
When compared to apps, Bots have several distinct advantages:
1. Bot Development is easier, faster and cheaper than app development. They can run off nearly any platform, messaging or otherwise.
2. Growing your Bot’s userbase is ridiculously simple. So simple other bots can actually recommend bots.
3. Phone users tend to be human and humans prefer to communicate verbally. Bots make that much easier.
4. Because Bots can be updated and fixed much, much faster than Apps. In fact, many Bot development companies have been able to offer basically instantaneous updates or corrections, moments after a customer mentions an issue.
5. They’re just easy to use. Basically, a user can open up their messaging platform and ask for some Chinese and a bot will respond, confirm the address and the price, ask if you’re using your usual payment method, and that’s it. Pretty sweet, right?
Facebook just announced at Tech Disrupt SF some recent upgrades to their chatbots (Read more about that here). The CEO of Microsoft (Satya Nadella) basically said Apps were dead, and Bloomberg has announced some notable numbers that really demonstrate how quickly this market is growing:
♦ There were double the number of Bots 6 months after their inception, at 30,000;
♦ In 6 months, there 34,000 Bot developers; 14 months after the first app launch there were “only” 12.5k.
We already talked about WeChat and Facebook driving purchases, but there’s a new player in the game too: Bazillion Beings. This is a pretty cool startup that makes Bots (or Lifos, as they call them) cobbled together from open source services and codes (i.e. APIs) to create wholly new services, as users need them the moment they need them.
Even better, these Bots need to actually be effective and make enough money to cover their costs, or they automatically die; no unused bots cluttering up the web like unused apps on our phones.
What Do Bots Mean for Entrepreneurs?
There are couple things the rise of Intelligent Bots mean for the business and entrepreneurial-oriented. Sure, you could call SDI and build your own Bot; you’d make some money, they cost little in time or money, virtually no upkeep. All sounds pretty nice, but for a sustainable enterprise venture there are other opportunities here:
♦ Bots, like we see with Bazillion Beings, are generally an amalgamation of APIs that provide specific services (or portions of that service). What this tells us that, while Bots are certainly a growth market, APIs are really where it’s at. Build a bot, meet your one service; build an API, and have developers come to you.
♦ Messaging apps are quickly becoming the most used app on most people’s phones, if not already there. Yea, there are a lot of messaging apps out there; but most people have multiple messaging apps that they use and there is a ton of money to be made – WeChat’s 6 billion is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The faster the market for Bots grows, the more messaging apps with Bot Support will be needed. Want to know more about how to create a messaging app? Read more here.
This industry is just beginning. It’s had its issues, most notably with an early attempt at a bot emulating Millennial’s language patterns on twitter…turns out, Twitter is super racist. But the verdict is in: While they aren’t likely to completely replace apps, Bots ARE a huge market and will only continue to grow.
Want to know how to develop a Bot-Capable Messaging App like WhatsApp or WeChat? Give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!