Friday, 16 September 2016

Apple, Facebook & Google see bots outgrow apps for first time

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The bot economy is growing faster and becoming bigger than the app economy. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) could push a change in the mobile environment from the app economy to bot economy, according to one analyst.

Citigroup analysts Mark May noted the recent efforts of Apple and Facebook to make money from chatbot also known as internet/web robot or simply called bot—a software application that runs automated task over the internet. The bot relies on artificial intelligence (AI) to perform its task. 
In a note to investors, Mr. May wrote, “Moves by players like Facebook to increasingly commercialize its Messenger platform and Apple’s recent announcement that it will launch an app/bot store specifically for iMessenger with the launch of iOS10 point to a possible momentum shift in the mobile landscape from the app economy to the bot economy.”
Facebook could gain from the potential growth of a bot economy
He noted that in the early stages, bots are increasing dramatically than apps on Facebook’s Messenger. There were 11,000 bots compared to 7,500 apps during the three months of the platform’s operation, and climbed to 30,000 bots compared to 15,000 bots during its six months of operation.
Mr. May also observed that the number of Messenger bot developers surpassed the number of app developers in the months following the launching of its respective platforms. The number of bot developers rose to 34,000 in six months, with 12,000 app developers in 14 months.
According to May, “Facebook appears to be in a good position to benefit from the potential growth of the bot economy.” The social network giant repeatedly expressed its intention to commercialize bots. In a previous interview with Bloomberg, David Marcus, the head of Facebook Messenger, said, “Today there is no revenue. Gradually, we’ll build monetization on the platform.”
Bots could become an everyday technology
Mr. May suggested that there is a possibility that bots could become part of users’ daily technology. He said, “While the impact the bot economy will have, and the form it will take, remains to be seen, the data suggests that there is significant potential for bots to become an everyday-technology, similar to the app store.”
Some of the consumer applications for bots include making hotel reservations, purchasing movie tickets, ordering food from restaurants, sending daily news updates among others.
May is also watching Apple and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG), both of which are benefiting from the growth of apps.
For now, the iPhone maker is sidestepping the excitement surrounding chatbots as it is only allowing developers to build app extensions on iMessage Apps. 
The search engine giant is developing AI-based bots within Allo, Google Now, Google Assistant, and Google Home. “Think of the assistant, we think of it as a conversational assistant, we want users to have an ongoing two-way dialog,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai during the company’s I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California May this year.
The development of a new “bot economy” comes days after Forrester released research, indicating that 6% of jobs worldwide could be displaced with the development of artificial intelligence. Low skilled jobs such as that of a customer service agent or truck drivers are all subject to change, as businesses look to remove overheads by automating tasks. A trend no less, which the tech companies realise is the next area of growth.

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