Reality check about bots and platforms

The Information has a excellent, in-depth article about the key developments around bots during 2016. It definitely was the “year of the bots”, but as it turned out, bots might still be quite far from breaking into the mainstream.

From my point of view, the main challenge is that Facebook is not really a platform company. They sell advertising as their main business. They are not a platform company in the same way as for example Microsoft is. Facebook is not used to support 3rd party applications or integrations on a wide scale. This argument is especially well-explained by Ben Thompson of Stratechery in many of his articles.

Since that full article is behind a subscription wall, I will include few excerpts here.

“The optimistic view is that in 2016 we saw the “fart app” era of bots that will soon be superseded by great experiences. The usual suspect companies that always rush into developing experiences on new platforms — usually unsuccessfully (the desperate newspapers, 1–800-Flowers, etc.) — have had their crack. Now more patient and serious developers will have their turn at building real things.

The pessimistic view is that the enabling technology for building good, pure software bots might be at 90%, but that each incremental nine of reliability will be insanely hard. At the same time, with big platforms focusing on video as a next battleground, and having been burned by unsuccessful initial launches, quality apps and distribution are still a long time off.

My personal belief is somewhere in the middle. I think that some vertical applications that focus on specific use cases narrowly will thrive.”

I agree with the author’s personal view that there are definitely big challenges in the rise of bots, especially the challenge with Facebook perhaps not being the perfect platform for them.

Still, they solve real problems and provide an easy channel for consumers to complete simple tasks and communicate with brands.

We will see more good cases being promoted during 2017, but most likely we will not see a major wave towards bots.

media industry mobile apps Uncategorized

Perttu Tolvanen View All →

Perttu Tolvanen is a Web Technologies & E-Commerce Expert at North Patrol. Perttu assists clients on early-phase service design, defining requirements, and in technology selections.