The good, the bad, the ugly
Let’s see what’s happening in the bots space.
I wont get into specifics a lot. That’s boring. We’ll look at just the trends and major things.
Let’s also throw in the messaging applications and AI tech into the mix as well.
Press hype is reducing. Well, Venture Beat is still all in.
That’s a great thing. I write for them 🙂
Venture investments are increasing.
Merger and Acquisitions are on the rise.
You were either a believer in the space for the past eight to ten months or you weren’t.
If you were already a believer in the potential of bots and whatever the new buzzword might be, the bot gold rush must have made your beliefs stronger.
Let’s say you were a non-believer for this past year. And, you have sufficient knowledge of what is really going on in the space. Headline skimmers don’t count. Your beliefs against the potential of the bots will get stronger. This is mainly so because we have a dozen bad experiences for every little good thing that pops up in this space.
It’s sort of like the impact our presidential debates have on decided voters. It merely reinforces what we already believed in. We see what we want to see.
So, now, what if you had no opinion on this space all this while?
You were too busy not caring about what’s happening in the messaging and bots world. Nothing wrong with that.
Let me give you three pointers that might peak your curiosity to actually look into the space and frame an opinion —
- Legacy companies like Salesforce and Oracle (!?) got into the game
- Skype is building out a bots platform. You know its a thing when Microsoft embraces it.
- Basecamp, whose product team might be one of the most thoughtful teams in our industry, has gotten into chatbots.
If bots weren’t a thing, world’s biggest names in the tech industry (which is no longer a siloed industry) are desperately trying to make this a thing.
So, if it weren’t a thing six months ago, it surely will be in the next six months.
Are bots ready for prime time? Nope. If you haven’t tried a bot yet, please hold off on trying one.
Do normal people need or want them? Nope, not yet.
Have we had any GREAT mainstream applications yet? Not that I know of.
Is a bot a feature or a business? Most bots right now are merely features. Most of them are websites ported into interfaces. A lot of them are are extension of existing software on other interfaces. BUT, we cannot expect a big standalone bot business just yet. Remember, fart apps on App Store?
So what are all these nerds geeking out about? Most believers are rooting for what this space will be and can become in the future. Even the most vocal believer will agree that the space is filled with shitty experiences. But, that’s how we progress as a nascent space via experimentation and learning. It’s a big part of the game.
The good part about this space is the community of operators, founders, agency folks and platform people emerging all over the world. There is a lot of sharing of knowledge and learnings that will eventually shape the space.
The bad part is the unnecessarily heightened expectation and hype around what bots and AI can do, can not do, should do, and should not do.
The ugly part is the lack of great early experiences deterring people from staying optimistic about the potential of this space.
The ecosystem is still very young. Yes, we have had two hype cycles already. Yes, the bot growth is surpassing the apps growth. But, that is because of rapid experimentation and low barriers to entry. The entire space is still developer-driven, not consumer-driven. The prime time will come when we enter the deployment phase. We are still in the installation phase. We are still figuring it all out.
No, mobile apps are not dead. Nothing is dead. Bots is mainly a new interface. We will have bot-first companies that will eventually become very successful. Were you expecting Ubers and Snapchats or the world back in 2007–2008?
Apps that became massive businesses leverage a lot of capabilities of smartphones, sensors, social networks, and content networks. Bots that will become successful businesses will unlock the power of artificial intelligence, APIs and networks.
Let’s just let the space breathe. No pressure.
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