Messaging apps are by far the most heavily used on smartphones. Being able to regularly communicate with our family and friends from anywhere in the world has always been one of the most valued features of our precious little devices.
Just take a look at the number of people using these messaging apps.
Those numbers are in the millions. Even Blackberry still has 91,000,000 users.
Retailers and advertisers go where the people are, and the people can be found here. When is the last time you heard of a completely untapped market with nearly a billion potential buyers?
Now, the question is, how do you take advantage of such a massive opportunity? How do you take something so basic and simple (sending text and sharing photos) and turn it into a seamless sales channel, without changing the fundamental purpose and structure of the app?
As usual, Facebook believes they have the answer.
Recently, Facebook announced a new feature that allows users to summon an Uber from within Facebook's Messenger app, talking to an "Uber Bot" as if it were a real human being. This bot would essentially act as your personal assistant.
This was just the beginning.
Facebook is giving select third parties access to development tools that let them build their own bots for Messenger, creating virtual chat partners that can automatically respond to customers' queries; returning information, images, and even processing payments.
Imagine if your "messaging app" was more like a personal assistant. Order takeout, book a flight, send money to your mom and dad back home, check the shipping status on those shoes you bought online, the possibilities are virtually endless.
Like most technological advances, they are already doing this in Asia, with messaging apps like WeChat.
And the obvious convenience isn't just for users either.
Chat app platforms relieve businesses from having to build, popularize, and maintain whole mobile apps for multiple phone operating systems. With so many apps flooding the app stores, getting people to discover them and go through the hassle of installing an app can be tough for businesses. It’s much more casual and less daunting for businesses to get users to simply message them.
Everyone and their mother has an app they want you to download on your phone. Why not have a handful that handle everything you need instead? This would also allow small and medium sized businesses to compete with larger ones with more resources, leveling the playing field a bit.
The machines are learning people. Artificial intelligence is being incorporated into more and more of our technology, learning about us, and finding ways to do things better.
I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.
Header image via Techcrunch
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