This morning, at F8 developer’s conference in San Francisco, Marc Zukerberg announced “bots” for Facebook Messenger. Bots are humanlike robots built with AI algorithms that can interact between the user and business. For example, to order a Uber cab, you do not need to go into the Uber app, but directly ask for one via Facebook Messenger using a bot.
Facebook announced a new API today that will allow developers to build bots into Messenger. The idea is that brands and retailers like 1-800-Flowers or CNN can connect with users via messaging, and automate those conversations to eliminate the need for human-to-human interaction. That means you’ll soon be able to order flowers through private messaging without ever needing to chat with another human, for example. CNN and 1-800-Flowers were named onstage as early partners, but it’s likely that many more will be shown off throughout the conference. The more tasks you can accomplish within Messenger, the more likely you are to open the app every day. And the more purchases you make inside Messenger, the more potential revenue for Facebook. This is a brilliant stroke and a game changer.
There will be a way to search for bots in the app, and developers can advertise their bots on Facebook’s News Feed, driving users to Messenger to interact with the bot. For those who don’t know how to build bots (or may not have the technical artificial-intelligence chops to handle the language recognition challenges), Facebook is offering a “bot engine” to help developers build them. That engine will be powered by Wit.ai, an artificial intelligence startup it bought in January of 2015 to help people chat with robots.
Now the question is what will happen to the Apple store in the iPhone? Apple brings tons of business apps and makes a huge profit. Now Facebook users can bypass all that and directly interact with business via these bots. That will jeopardize the relationship between Apple (Facebook depends heavily on the iPhone for its mobile users) and Facebook. Will Apple be upset enough to cut Facebook off its iPhone partnership? Let us watch and see. The other question is – where is Google in all this?
This again shows the smart move by Zuck and team!